A dog that attacked an 8-year-old boy while he was playing catch in Baldwin Park on Monday night likely won't be put to sleep, according to an animal control official.
Anthony Cardenas was playing catch with his older brother and father at Sierra Vista High School when two dogs—a German Shepherd and a Terrier—escaped from their home, located near the 3600 block of Frazier Street.
- Read our initial report of the incident
- See photos of 8-year-old Anthony's injuries
While Anthony was running to retrieve the baseball his brother had thrown, the German Shepherd allegedly attacked him, leaving his head scratched and requiring him to receive two stitches in his right ear.
"We're not clear whether the injuries sustained by the child were bites or scratches upon further investigation," said Aaron Reyes, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC). "The boy was chasing a ball and it is plausible the dogs were doing the same."
But Anthony's mother, Cynthia Cardenas, doesn't agree with that scenario.
"Scratches would have not required stitches," said Cardenas. "Once Anthony dropped the ball and the dog kept attacking, I think it is clear what its intentions were."
The German Shepherd, "Chico," is still a puppy and likes to play regularly, said owner Ofelia Flores.
"My nieces and nephews like to throw balls or Frisbees and the dogs run after them and bring them back sometimes," said Flores. "When you're around the dogs, they're very loving."
Because Chico is a pure-bred German Shepherd, he's a pretty big dog, said Flores.
"When he gets excited he likes to jump up on me and lick my face, and he's a big dog, you know?" said Flores. "I'm sorry for what happened, I'm a mother myself."
DACC spent time with both dogs, who showed no signs of aggression, and decided that it may be able to work with a rescue group to place them in rescue, said Reyes.
The dogs will remain in quarantine, a 10-day process, where the L.A. County Health Department will check them for rabies and other public health risks. Animal care officers will also monitor their behavior for the duration. On Oct. 1, the dogs will undergo a "temperament test," at which time animal control will decide if rehabilitation is possible.
If rehabilitation is decided for Chico, he could be transferred to the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County.
Investigators are also canvassing the neighborhood and talking to residents for clues as to whether there is a history of "menacing behavior" associated with Chico.
Incidents go unreported all the time, said Reyes, so it's important to be thorough when considering ending a dog's life for aggressive behavior.
According to a DACC press release, records show only a prior complaint for the dogs being tethered illegally.
"This is irresponsible dog ownership and as a result of the irresponsibility and neglect, my nephew had to suffer through this ordeal," said Angie Franco, Cardenas' sister.
Franco was at the school park the night of the incident and translated Anthony's father's statement to animal control officers.
Animal control has extended an invitation to the Cardenas family to visit the animal care center and the dog to help Anthony recover from the incident emotionally, Reyes said.
"Young people can become traumatized by such events resulting in a life long fear of dogs," said Reyes. "We want to help him avoid that feeling."
But Anthony doesn't want to see the dog, said Cardenas.
"He said he is not afraid of dogs but can still vividly see the expression of the dog during the attack," she said.