A McKeesport mother told police she had left her 3-day-old son unattended for just minutes Thursday morning when she returned to find him bleeding on her living room floor, her pet husky hovering over him.
Police said the dog mauled the newborn, Howard Nicholson, to death about 9:30 a.m. in the home in the 1700 block of Scott Street.
His mother, Brandy Furlong, 21, told police she was the only one home when she went upstairs to use the bathroom, leaving the baby in a carrier on the floor between a mattress and a couch. When she returned, a pit bull and the husky -- two of four dogs Ms. Furlong had in the house -- were running loose around the screaming child. Police believe the husky was the attacker; blood was on its face. Ms. Furlong pulled the husky away and noticed her son bleeding badly from bite wounds to the head, McKeesport police Capt. Tim Hanna said.
"We knew it was a very, very traumatic injury," he said.
Howard was flown to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where he was pronounced dead just before 11 a.m., the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said.
Neighbors said they watched as Ms. Furlong ran onto her front porch cradling the boy, who was wrapped in a bedsheet.
"I heard her screaming into the phone," said Anthony Daniels, 38, who lives down the street. "She was crying. She was hysterical."
The baby's father, a 26-year-old man whose name was not available, ran home from work when Ms. Furlong called him to tell him of the injury.
Ms. Furlong is also the mother of two older children, ages 6 and 3, who were not home at the time.
"They were so excited about having a new baby," said Ron Filo, a neighbor who drove Ms. Furlong to Magee-Womens Hospital to deliver her child on Monday. He said the couple came home with Howard Wednesday night. "I just don't understand how this could have happened."
Allegheny County police homicide detectives were investigating whether charges were warranted against Ms. Furlong, who was cited in October for failing to have her dogs vaccinated, court records show.
Detectives struggled to learn more about how the attack unfolded because Ms. Furlong was so distraught, county police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said.
"It's a terrible tragedy," the superintendent said.
Animal control officers seized the pit bull and the husky, which had a cast on its leg.
"She was a person who tried to shelter dogs she felt were abused," Superintendent Moffatt said. "She took them into her home."
Mr. Daniels said he didn't know the couple well but recently saw the father, who told him he was cleaning the house in preparation for his new son's arrival.
"He was smiling," Mr. Daniels said. "He was just so happy."
Sadie Gurman: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1878. First Published February 17, 2012 5:00 AM