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Activists Campaign To Save Dog That Killed 1-Year-Old

Activists Campaign To Save Dog That Killed 1-Year-Old

Should a dog that killed a 1-year-old little boy be euthanized or allowed to live out its life at a sanctuary? It’s a question that will be debated in Las Vegas, NV on Friday after a tragic attack left Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan dead on his first birthday.

Jeremiah’s grandmother, Elizabeth Keller was exhausted when she gave the toddler his bottle and laid him down on the living room floor at 10p.m. on April 27. The family had finished celebrating the boy’s first birthday and was ready to relax. Their dog Onion, a 6 year-old Mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix, was already asleep on the floor. Jeremiah crawled over to Onion, as he had done many times before, and grabbed onto the 120-pound dog to pull himself up. As his grandmother reached down to pick him up, Onion acted out of character and latched onto the boy’s head. Jeremiah’s father immediately rushed into the room, but the damage had been done. Jeremiah’s neck was broken and his face was mutilated. The baby was airlifted to a trauma unit where he died the next morning.

The boy’s father, Christopher Shahan, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he lost two family members on April 27, his cherished son and his beloved pet. He voluntarily surrendered Onion to Animal Control for the dog to be euthanized after a 10 day quarantine period.

“For what he did to my son, he deserves to be punished,” said Christopher Shahan. “I’ve already accepted the fact that he’s dead.”

Onion was scheduled to be euthanized on May 8, but was given a reprieve by a local judge after lawyers working for the Lexus Project, a dog advocacy group, filed a temporary restraining order. The Lexus Project wants to send Onion to a Colorado sanctuary that specializes in handling large and aggressive dogs.

“We’re happy about the judge’s decision,” Lexus Project president Robin Mittasch said. “Now Onion will have his day in court.”

“It’s a tragedy what happened, believe me, I’m a mother and grandmother,” Mittasch said. “But on the other hand, the dog didn’t do anything wrong. He doesn’t know what he did.”

Les Golden, a Chicago-area dog rescuer said, “The dog deserves to be saved.” Based on news reports Golden believes Onion is not dangerous and acted “instinctively after being spooked by the child” while he slept.

Lisa Kavanaugh, owner of Blue Lion Rescue where Onion would be sent if he gets his reprieve, said she would welcome the dog to her 35-acre ranch. She said, “Any dog from any breed can bite under certain conditions.”

“If it’s an accident, why not give him a chance?” said Kavanaugh. “He’s never, ever going to get a chance to hurt anybody else.”

Animal Control officers feel differently. They declared Onion a vicious dog and the state mandates that he be euthanized.

“The dog attacked and killed a child,” said Keith Paul Animal Control spokesperson. “It would be irresponsible for us to allow this dog to be adopted out.”

Onion has been with the Shahan family since he was a puppy. The family credits the dog with helping Jeremiah’s grandmother battle lung cancer and say he never showed aggression toward anyone including the 1-year-old prior to the mauling.

Should Onion be given a second chance to live at a sanctuary or should he be euthanized?  And if Onion is allowed this special consideration, shouldn’t every dog sitting in an animal shelter waiting to be euthanized, be given a second chance too?

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Photo Credit: DallasKrentzel

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362 comments

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12:13PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

Anyone who seriously thinks "the dog didn't do anything wrong" as Robin Mitasch stated in the article has more than a few screws loose.
I'm also an animal lover, but a persons life is way more important than an animals life.
If someone spooked/startled me & I reacted & killed them ("reacted instinctly") I would at the very least be charged with manslaughter.
Having said that, with all the cases of dogs killing or maiming children over the years, parents should know better than to leave large, powerful dogs alone with small children.
Children also should be taught or prevented from pinching, poking & otherwise causing pain to animals, the way most one yr olds do.

10:54PM PDT on Jul 9, 2013

As horrible as this incident is, I believe that the dog was not at fault and should be allowed to live out it's life in a sanctuary. Killing the dog serves absolutely no purpose. It will not bring the child back. Previously the dog was not aggressive and was a beloved pet. Unfortunately, the family has to take responsibility for not monitoring the situation of a sleeping dog that can be scared if suddenly awakened and grabbed by a child, which should not have been sleeping on the floor next to him. The dog did not try to kill the boy, but it was an terrible accident. It could have happened with any breed of dog, but this one just happened to have a strong bite. Also, too many people allow young children to hit on them, pull ears, etc. which is totally unfair to animals and should not be tolerated.

11:10AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

This do has never shown aggression, and therefore should definately be given a second chance at life. I blame the grandmother for not watching more carefully this baby around this dog. The dog was sleeping and acted from instinct. Young children and dogs do not mix very well and need to be closely supervised at all times despite how gentle a dog is. It's an unfortunate situation but don't blame the animal. The adults involved need to take responsibility too!

1:09PM PDT on Jul 1, 2013

i'm sorry but if the dog killed a child a one year old. then he should be put down

4:07AM PDT on May 20, 2013

Okay so if it is alright for a DOG to do this then I should be allowed to "instinctively" kill whomever I chose as well... GROW A BRAIN PEOPLE!

3:55AM PDT on May 20, 2013

Why should a dog be killed for reacting instinctively? We wouldn't do that to a person. Are human children so sacrosanct that they can do anything to a dog and the dog will be persecuted for reacting on its instincts?

8:43AM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

I remember this story, especially as I was attacked for supporting euthanasia for the dog. What upset me was the lack of empathy of so many posters for the little boy...I remember one woman calling him a "little snot"...and the implication that the child's life was worth far less than the dog's life.

Just for the record, I love animals, and support animals rights with time and money.

Like Emma, I am wondering whatever happened to the dog.

8:32AM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

To Kathy p regarding your comments, you also need to learn a bit about animal behaviour. Why do you scold your dogs for nipping your child, don't put your dogs in that position and don't let your child annoy the dogs. Next thing it will be your child with a serious bite and you will be surprised

8:28AM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

I doubt whether the dog acted unnaturally. Mpre likely he had been giving warnings which had been ignored or misinterpreted. I don't care how good the dog is NO DOG should ever be left at will with kids, you cannot second guess what a child will do and any dog not used to the noises that children make or the sudden movements will react. Sadly this infant died the dog will probably be euthanized.
People really need to be made more aware of dog behaviour and understand them better - only then will these tragic accidents stop happening.

10:42PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

The poor dog reacted and didn't know he was going to kill the little boy...it's 2013...does anyone know what happened to the dog...?

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