A toddler was hospitalized Wednesday morning after the family dog ripped off the child's left ear in the backyard of a Riverside County home.
The dog, identified by authorities as a 2-year-old neutered male pit bull, attacked when the boy was at his Jurupa Valley home with his grandmother, according to officers. The child was in the backyard with the dog about 8 a.m. when the grandmother, who was inside the home, heard screams.
The boy, identified as Daniel Sanchez, was hospitalized with what authorities described as severe injuries. The severed portion of the boy's ear was placed in a freezer in hopes surgeons could reattach it later, the grandmother said.
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The dog had released the toddler by the time his mother had arrived home from running errand.
"My daughter was screaming and crying. I called 911, I almost passed out," said the grandmother, Alejandra Martinez. "She called me, 'Mom, why did you let the baby out?' I was in the restroom, he was sleeping in the bed."
Riverside County Animal Control officers at the home on Pontiac Avenue found neighbors with baseball bats who had responded after hearing the child's screams. It was not immediately clear whether the residents used the bats to fend off the dog, named Poncho.
"They were standing outside with bats because they heard the attack and went out to help the boy," Animal Services Officer Tiffany Fuller said.
Officers used a control stick to retrieve the dog, which was surrendered for euthanasia. The dog was licensed and neutered, according to animal services officers who met with the boy's mother at Loma Lina University Medical Center.
"It just broke my heart -- he's just a baby," Fuller said of the boy. "To see him in that shape, in that condition. He'll be scarred for life."
The boy's mother told officers she had not experienced previous aggression issues with the dog. Animal services officers said the dog displayed no signs of aggression toward them. The family also surrendered two other dogs.