WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A dog was euthanized Thursday evening after it attacked four people, including a city firefighter and a 3-year-old girl, authorities said.
The brain tissue of the dog, a cane corso mix, will be tested for rabies as a precaution, said Dianne Sauve, director for Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, which removed the dog from the home.
West Palm Beach Fire-Rescue crews were called to the 1300 block of 13th Street around 6 p.m. after the dog bit a 13-year-old girl on the arm, city spokesman Allan Ortman said.
Indications are that the dog had bitten its owner's grandmother before it attacked the girl, but the woman did not require medical treatment, Ortman said.
While Fire-Rescue crews were the treating the girl, the dog broke free from its restraint and grabbed the buttocks of the 3-year-old. A firefighter intervened and was bitten on the forearm and hand as he tried to separate the girl from the dog, Ortman said.
The firefighter and the two girls were taken to St. Mary's Medical Center. The 3-year-old was to be admitted to the hospital tonight with injuries to her thigh and buttocks, Ortman said. The firefighter and the 13-year-old were expected to be treated and released tonight.
The 13-year-old girl does not live at the residence, Ortman said. It was unclear whether the 3-year-old lives there.
It is not known what, if any, charges the dog's owner will face, Sauve said. After the attack, the dog was classified as vicious and the owner would not have been allowed to keep it, she said.
The owner was in violation of some regulations. The dog was not current on rabies vaccinations, and indications are it was not licensed, which would be a civil infraction, Sauve said. The dog also apparently was not vaccinated, which would be a violation of state and local law. It also was unclear whether the dog had been sterilized, as required by local ordinance, Sauve said.
Sauve said it could not immediately be determined whether Animal Care and Control officers have responded to previous complaints about the dog.
Any number of factors, including the environment in which the dog lived, could have affected its behavior this evening, she said.
"All too often, a dog is demonized, euthanized and forgotten after such a tragedy," Sauve said. "It is human nature to attempt to blame the dog or the breed instead of looking deeper to determine how and why the incident occurred."