Family Dog Attacks and Kills 6-Month-Old Infant

Police with the Sevier County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee responded to a report that a family dog attacked a 6-month-old early Sunday evening. The child was found dead at the scene by first responders.

ABC affiliate station WATE-TV reported that, in a press release, Sheriff Ron Seals said first responders were called to the house at about 6:15 p.m after hearing that an infant was not breathing following a dog attack. The first responders discovered that the infant was dead when they arrived and another person in the house was injured.

When the dog became aggressive with first responders, it was put down at the scene. Officers with the sheriff's department are still investigating.

Police Tape
Police are investigating an incident in which a 6-month-old infant was attacked and killed by a family dog in Tennessee. Authorities said it was unclear if the dog had a history of aggressiveness. Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

Newsweek reached out to the Sevier County Sheriff's Office for comment.

It is unclear whether the family dog has a history of aggression toward the family or the baby.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it is common for dogs to be aggressive toward unfamiliar people, but it becomes problematic for dogs to behave aggressively toward children, especially children in the family.

"Not only is aggression toward children exceedingly difficult to treat because of safety concerns, the likelihood that a dog with this problem will ever become trustworthy is slim," the ASPCA wrote.

Aggressive behavior may be broken down into different categories, per the ASPCA, which can help pet owners understand the reasoning behind a dog's behavior.

For example, a dog may show aggression if a family member is in danger. Another dog may act aggressively if they perceive themself as "high in status," meaning that they live by a hierarchy. Other dogs may become aggressive if they are territorial and will attack and bite an intruder, regardless of whether the intruder is a friend to the dog or not.

If a dog owner decides to live with and treat an aggressive dog, the ASPCA wrote there are things to consider, including the size of the dog, bite history, what the dog's targets are and what triggers the dog's aggression.

In early October, a 16-month-old girl was attacked and killed by a dog in Akron, Ohio.

Newsweek reported that responding officers found that the child was severely injured after being attacked in the house. She was rushed to Akron Children's Hospital where she died. Investigators suspected there was a fight between two adults at the home.

At least one of the dogs became agitated during the disagreement and attacked the child. The dogs were removed from the house as the investigation continued.