A dog that ripped open the face of a 7-year-old girl visiting a private animal rescue near Menifee could be euthanized in the coming week, the Riverside County Department of Animal Services said Friday.
Agency spokesman John Welsh said the attack happened Sunday while the victim and her parents were looking at canines placed with A Passion for Paws Akita Rescue, also known as "Akita Ranch,'' in the 28900 block of Ellis Avenue, just off of Menifee Road.
Welsh said other serious attacks have been connected to dogs from the rescue.
In the most recent case, the child was reportedly trying to play with the 2-year-old male Akita, putting her face close to the dog's, when he lunged and clamped down on the right side of her face, biting her until her parents and rescue volunteers got him off, according to Welsh.
He said she required 1,000 sutures to repair the wounds and is recovering.
Animal control officers seized the canine, which had been transferred to the rescue from a Los Angeles-area pound in February, and initiated destruction proceedings.
According to Welsh, the dog is in quarantine at one of the county's shelters. The rescue operator declined to surrender the animal for humane euthanasia, so the case was taken to an independent hearing officer, who heard testimony Thursday on whether the Akita should be put down, Welsh said.
A decision is expected to be handed down by Monday.
"It is crucial that we protect the public from dogs that may not be suitable for adoptions,'' Animal Services Director Allan Drusys said. "We respect all of our rescue partners very much. These groups are helping us save lives. But it's critical that everyone recognize that some breeds may not be a good pet, especially for households with children.''
Welsh said officers' research confirmed five similar attacks by Akita Ranch dogs going back to 2013.
"In November 2017, a man adopted a dog from the rescue, but returned the dog after he was attacked and suffered bite wounds to both arms,'' Welsh said. "A similar incident happened in February 2018, when a man adopted a dog, but was bit in his hands and arms. Both adopters returned the dogs. Animal services issued dangerous dog restraining orders for both.''
Akitas originated in Japan and were at one time used to hunt bear, wild boar and deer, according to the American Kennel Club.
The organization noted on its website that "not everyone'' is suited to the breed, but hundreds of Akitas have been certified by the AKC as "therapy dogs'' for hospital and nursing home patients.