Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Dog kills toddler
in rural Kauai

The 17-month-old boy was
killed by a male mixed-breed
dog that was tied to a chain

LIHUE >> A neighbor's dog attacked and killed a 17-month-old Moloaa boy Saturday afternoon, according to Kauai police.

Police said the child, Truston Liddle, suffered severe injuries to the head, neck and chest about 5 p.m. Saturday. He died in the emergency room at Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

Kauai police, fire and an ambulance all responded to a 911 call saying the child's father was trying to drive from their North Shore home to the Hanalei fire station with his injured son.

Medical units met him on the highway in Waipake, a residential area, and transferred the boy to an ambulance. Witnesses said he had a pulse and was breathing. Two Fire Department paramedics helped the ambulance crew on the way to the hospital, about a 30-minute drive.

Acting Kauai Police Chief Clayton Arinaga said yesterday the dog -- a mixed breed weighing 40 to 50 pounds -- belonged to the boy's next-door neighbor, and there is no fence between the two homes. The area is rural and most residents have small farms. Police said they did not even have an exact street address for the boy's home as of yesterday.

The dog was attached to a chain, and its owner was not in the area at the time of the attack, Arinaga said. Investigators hoped to determine whether the dog has a history of aggressive behavior.

The dog was seized by a Kauai Humane Society animal control officer and is being held at the humane society shelter in Puhi. Becky Rhoades, executive director of the Kauai Humane Society, said she was not allowing access to the dog.

"He's a very stressed dog," she said yesterday.

State Child Protective Services told county officials the agency also would investigate the death.

County officials would not release the names of the child's parents, but Tracy Schavone, an announcer for noncommercial radio station KKCR, said they are Dove and Raven Liddle, organic farmers from Moloaa.

Dove Liddle co-hosts a weekly gardening show with Schavone, plus several other regular KKCR features, she said. Raven Liddle makes and markets a natural mosquito repellent, Schavone said.

"They're both absolutely shattered. It's unbelievable," Schavone said. "The whole community is pretty much freaked out about it."

She described Truston as "blondish, not a towhead, but with very light hair. He was the sweetest little boy, so mellow, very angelic."

The Kauai Human Society's Rhoades said fatal dog attacks are very rare.

"It's horrible when this happens. ... Most of our dogs are good citizens for the community."

Kauai Humane Society officials have issued six dangerous-dog citations since the dangerous-dog law became effective on Kauai in October 2002. Rhoades said police officers on Kauai also issue dangerous-dog citations.

Humane society officials on Oahu issued 14 dangerous-dog citations in 2002 and 58 citations in 2003. Humane society officials on the Big Island issued 10 citations between July and December 2003. Maui Humane Society officials could not be reached for comment.

While not commenting directly on Saturday's attack, Rhoades reminded parents to supervise their children while they are near or around a dog of any breed.

"They have a tendency to do things that the dog may or may not like," Rhoades said.

The most aggressive dogs are un-neutered, male dogs that are kept on a chain for most of their lives, she added, noting that the dog that attacked Liddle is a male mixed-breed dog.

Dog attacks take toll on Hawaii's children

Several reported dog attacks that critically injured or killed people in Hawaii:

>> Jan. 31, 2004: Nine-year-old Ikaika Rhine, of Waianae, was attacked by what was described to be a pit bull. He suffered serious injuries to his head, neck, arms and legs. The dog's owner was issued a dangerous-dog citation.

>> Jan. 27, 2003: Five-year-old Trevor Sifton, of Kihei, Maui, was attacked by a male, mixed-breed pit bull that had leaped over a fence. Trevor suffered multiple bites to his arm, calf and face. The dog was euthanized.

>> July 23, 2002: A 2-year-old boy was mauled by a pit bull at his baby sitter's home in Pukalani, Maui, and suffered bites to his neck, head and face. The dog had been tied to a tree, and the boy was playing nearby. The 6-year-old male dog was euthanized.

>> July 30, 2001: Six-year-old Alex Pyle, of Makawao, Maui, was mauled by a male Akita in his neighbor's yard. He suffered wounds to his head, cheek and arms. A lethal injection was administered to the dog days after the attack.

>> June 9, 2001: Eighteen-month-old Tyran Moniz-Hilderbrand was attacked and killed by a pit bull in the Hawaiian Acres subdivision in Puna. Tyran's father killed the animal with a pickax, and the toddler's mother suffered from wounds to her arms and legs.

Star-Bulletin staff


Here is what to do
if a dog attacks you

The Kauai Humane Society reminded residents of the following dog bite prevention tips:

>> Never approach a strange dog on a chain, in a car or protecting their home or owner.

If you are confronted by a stray dog:

>> Do not run or shout. Stay calm and avoid sudden movements.
>> Do not stare at the dog.
>> Stand still, and keep your hands and arms close.
>> Slowly turn so your side faces the dog, and walk away. Do not turn your back on the dog.
>> Talk quietly to the dog. Tell the dog to "go home," "sit" or "stay."
>> If possible, keep an object between yourself and the dog such as a briefcase, backpack, bicycle or surfboard.

If the dog jumps at you and attempts to bite:

>> Stop and present any available object, such as a purse or backpack, for the dog to bite.
>> Shake and pull the object while the dog is grabbing it, and slowly back away to safety.
>> When you are near a safe area, let the dog have the object and retreat.

If you have no object to distract the dog:

>> Stand quietly. Do not kick or attempt to hit.
>> Place your hands in fists around your head and neck for protection.
>> Walk away slowly with your side facing the dog.

If you are knocked down by the dog:

>> Lie quietly in a fetal position.
>> Place your hands in fists around you head and neck for protection.
>> Remain in this defensive position until the dog leaves or when you are rescued.

If you are chased by a dog while jogging or bicycling:

>> Stop moving. Do not run or shout.
>> Dismount the bicycle, and place it between you and the dog.
>> Back away slowly with your side facing the dog.


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