A toddler had his ear ripped off and was severely injured by his family's dog in an attack in Jurupa Valley Wednesday, authorities said.
The 1 1/2-year-old boy was transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center with his left ear ripped off, according to a news release from the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
The incident occurred shortly before 7:45 a.m. in the backyard of a home on Pontiac Avenue. Alejandra Martinez, the boy's grandmother, heard him screaming.
"The family dog -- apparently unprovoked -- attacked the little boy and he suffered a really severe injury. His left ear was essentially torn off," said Animal Services spokesman John Welsh.
Martinez did not want to discuss the incident in depth, saying it made her sad. But she explained that she believed the dog was trying to play with her grandson, Daniel Sanchez, who will turn 2 later this month.
"Good dog," Martinez said. "He never bit nobody."
The toddler was supposed to be taking a nap when somehow he ended up the home’s backyard with the dog, which was described by authorities as a 2-year-old male pit bull named Poncho.
When first responders arrived, neighbors were “still wielding baseball bats” against the dog, the release stated. It was not clear if the bats had been used against the pet by neighbors, who responded when they heard the attack and went to aid the child.
The boy’s mother surrendered the dog to an Animal Services officer for "humane euthanasia," the news release stated. The animal was properly neutered and licensed.
When Poncho was taken into custody, the animal did not show signs of aggression toward officers. The mother said she had never encountered "any serious issues" with the dog before, the release said.
"Anything that's bigger than a little kid, you've got to always be a little extra cautious," Welsh said. "These dogs have a lot of strength."
The dog, one of three owned by the family, was put down Wednesday afternoon.
Doctors were not likely to be able to re-attach the boy's ear, Martinez said, but Daniel was expected to be otherwise OK.
It was difficult to see the boy at the hospital, Animal Services Officer Tiffany Fuller said, according to the news release.
“It just broke my heart – he’s just a baby,” Fuller said. “To see him in that shape, in that condition. He’ll be scarred for life.”