A county judge on Thursday ordered a husky that killed a newborn baby to be seized and eventually euthanized, a decision that its adopted owner said he plans to appeal.
The dog's former owner, Brandy Furlong, told police that she left her 3-day-old baby, Howard Nicholson, in a baby carrier on the floor for just minutes last Thursday.
When she returned, Howard was screaming and bleeding from his head and the husky was hovering over him with blood on its muzzle.
Howard was later pronounced dead at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
The husky was seized by Ken Ferree of Ferree Kennels, who took the dog to a veterinarian's office and kept it isolated at his McKeesport-based facility.
McKeesport police filed charges against Ms. Furlong for violations of the state dog laws but later withdrew them while the investigation into the case continues.
Two nights ago, Ms. Furlong and the boy's father, Howard Nicholson, signed paperwork to retrieve the dog and gave it to William Uhring of Churchill.
"We were lifting a burden from the family and from the dog," Mr. Uhring said, who said he was fearful the dog would be euthanized. He named it Helo, for a character from the television series "Battlestar Galactica" who is rescued from a firing squad.
He paid a $650 bill at the kennel for the dog's boarding fees and medical bills. He said the family may have faced more than $2,000 in fines and fees had he not adopted the dog.
"This family is distraught," he said. "We wanted to help them as much as we wanted to help the dog."
Mr. Uhring said Mr. Ferree told him the dog was released by the county to be picked up and was incredulous in what he viewed as authorities suddenly changing course.
"We're trying to get the dog back so we can have a set of professionals who can tell us if the dog is safe," he said. "This is not fair."
Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said they acted in accordance with the law.
In cases where "the owner or keeper of any dog that, through the intentional, reckless or negligent conduct of the dog's owner" results in a fatal attack, state law requires that the dog be confiscated, placed in quarantine and euthanized, unless the owner files an appeal.
Mr. Uhring said he plans to do just that.
The dog was released from the kennel because there were no grounds to hold it after the district attorney's office withdrew misdemeanor charges in the case. Mr. Ferree, whose kennel serves about 30 Mon Valley communities, said it's the first time he's ever dealt with a dog that has killed a person.
"You have to understand the extreme circumstances to this case. This has never happened in my 20 years. This is something new that we had to go through," he said. "A situation like this is an outside of the box, extraordinary situation that has to possibly demand closer attention to what particular charges should be filed."
Mr. Manko said the investigation into the boy's death is ongoing.
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2533.