A 2-yr-old girl was bitten once on the head by an 80-lb dog in Florida.
Now, before I even get to the part about the teddy bear, check out the headlines and breed identifications.
The dog is pictured here. Clearly a mixed breed. Clearly not an American Pit Bull Terrier.
Articles from March 11, 2009:
1) Hunter, a male mastiff mix
2) St. Bernard-mastiff mix
3) a Mastiff mix breed
4) (my favorite): a 2-yr-old pitbull mix, named Hunter, that may have been part bullmastiff.
Articles from March 12, 2009
5) Hunter, the pit bull mastiff mix.
6) 2-yr-old mastiff-pit bull mixed breed
7) The sheriff's office described the animal as a male mixed-breed St. Bernard and bull mastiff. Animal services said the dog appears to be an American bulldog.
The most recent article? Girl attacked by pitbull mix
Now, being unable to report the dog as a mutt aside (pit bulls are just so sexy, yo), all the articles do manage to keep the "cause" of the attack consistent: The Teddy Bear did it. Sort of. A Sgt. for Hillsborough animal services is claiming that because the dog played tug of war with a large teddy bear, he was incapable of discerning the difference between a teddy bear and a child.
I'm not going to tackle the breed issue (the dog's a mutt), but I will say this: A responsible game of tug of war is not going to make your dog eat your child. By responsible, I mean that your dog has learned how to drop a tug toy on command and tugs on command. Even being irresponsible with playing tug games does not mean a dog is going to magically decide your niece would make for a nice steak. We'd have a lot of dead kids if that were the case (tug is also used as a reward for some dogs in search and rescue work, yet you don't generally hear of SAR dogs eating the people/kids they rescue).
I don't know if we'll learn more about this dog. He looks like a dog who, overcome with stress, reverts to a very frightened animal. In the video, he is literally frozen into place in the back of his kennel, forced to endure the unfair stress of a bunch of mediots filming him (irresponsible of the shelter to let that happen, imo). I don't know if he was an easily aroused, unsocialized dog outside of the shelter or if he exhibited aggression prior to this incident. What I do know is that he was failed by his owner and is now dead because of it and a little girl is in the hospital. A game of tug did not cause this bite; an irresponsible person did.