Dog may have been trying to care for child: family friend

A friend of an Alberta couple whose two-day-old baby was killed by the family’s pet husky says the dog was probably trying to comfort the crying boy when it delivered one fatal bite to the child’s delicate, tiny head.

AIRDRIE — A friend of an Alberta couple whose two-day-old baby was killed by the family’s pet husky says the dog was probably trying to comfort the crying boy when it delivered one fatal bite to the child’s delicate, tiny head.

Dawn Donald says she has spoken with the baby’s devastated parents, Rob and Rhonda Fradette, and they seem to have done everything they were supposed to do when they brought their new baby home from the hospital last week.

They had locked the dog in its kennel in the basement and put their sleeping baby in his crib, Donald said. But somehow the dog escaped and went to investigate when the baby woke up crying. It was not a vicious attack, she said, and the same bite wouldn’t have killed an older child.

The parents believe the dog may have been trying to care for the child, she said.

“When dogs grab their young, they grab them there to pull them in,” said Donald, who came to know the Fradettes through the dog-sledding community in southern Alberta.

She said the nine-year-old female dog, a Siberian husky, had previously delivered four litters of its own puppies.

“It wanted to nurture, care for (the baby),” Donald said. “It felt like it was part of the family. That’s what it seemed like to them.”

Donald, who runs Mad Dogs & Englishmen Expeditions, a dog-sled touring company in Canmore, conceded that no one will ever know what was going through the dog’s mind.

The parents issued a statement through the RCMP on Thursday that described their son’s death as an “unthinkable, tragic accident” but did not talk about what happened.

“We will never know what our family pet was thinking nor will we ever know why she did what she did,” they said. “We now have to accept what has happened and move forward in our grieving and healing.”

The RCMP will only say that their investigation revealed there was no negligence and there will be no criminal charges.

The baby was born on the night of Feb. 13 and was attacked on the morning of Feb. 15 at the couple’s house in Airdrie, a bedroom community just north of Calgary. He died 12 hours later at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

The animal remains in quarantine. The Fradettes said they have been too busy mourning the loss of their child to discuss whether the dog should be destroyed. The animal had not been aggressive before and went through training and obedience classes.

The parents said they also attended seminars by the Calgary Humane Society, including one on how to bring a new baby into a home with pets.