A 6-year-old dog named Dexter thought to have mauled a toddler in Southern California was returned to his owners on Wednesday after an investigation revealed Dexter was not responsible for the attack, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
Kaidyn Sutton, a 1-year-old boy, suffered a large gash over his eyes when a dog bit him while he was playing at a park Nov. 14 in the Inland Empire's French Valley, near Murrieta.
The dog that attacked Kaidyn was initially described as a large dog, possibly a Rottweiler. But an investigator spoke with the boy's family and a friend, who identified a Labrador mix as the dog that attacked Kaidyn, officials said in a statement.
The boy's grandfather led authorities to the Labrador owner's home, where they found Dexter.
But after a second interview with a witness, the investigator said the woman "could not say with certainty that Dexter was, indeed, the dog."
Based on that interview and an "assessment of Dexter's behavior," Dexter was released to his owners Wednesday.
Now, county animal officials are asking for the public's help to find the correct dog.
"A large dog caused severe injuries to this little boy and someone might have valuable information to share," Animal Services Director Robert Miller said in a statement. "It’s important that we receive that information as soon as possible. We do not want anyone else to be injured if this dog is still in that community."
The boy's mother, Michaela Sutton, said her son may have long-term damage due to the attack. She said the child was at home playing while recovering days later.
"He did great, he looks great. There may be some nerve damage in his forehead and they fixed one tendon that works one eyebrow but couldn't exactly pinpoint the other but (because) he's so little they hope it will grow back," Sutton said in a Facebook update.