by Kim Gebbia
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn- Police said a medical service dog that mauled a six year old to death had no history of violence, but professional trainers said that doesn't mean they can't or won't attack.
Oak Grove Police said there was a trail of blood through the backyard of the Linda Drive Home where a 6-year-old boy was mauled by a German Shepherd.
The boy's parents were inside visiting friends and thought they had no reason to worry because the backyard was fenced in and the German Shepherd was a trained Medical Service Dog.
"Checking the background of this animal, at no time has it ever posed a problem to the public, never showed aggression toward anyone or anything," said Assistant Police Chief Dennis Cunningham.
The dog's sole purpose was to help its owner, a veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"It's not that he wanted to brutally kill this child it's that he was confused on what was going on that screams were coming out and he wanted to fix it," said specialized dog trainer Leah Patterson.
Patterson trains service dogs for vets with PTSD in Clarksville, but said the dogs should never leave the side of their owner and never be left alone with children.
"Dogs have teeth, what can you say? Anything can happen at a split moment. It could be anything from the little boy screaming at a split moment," said Patterson.
Patterson says it's easy for children to trigger dogs like German Shepherds, even if they are well trained. Hearing that the boy had a puncture on his hand and then was bit several times in the face fits the pattern of how these dogs can react to a playful child.
"My initial thought was maybe he nipped, and the child began screaming and the dog panicked and he wanted to fix the scream so he went for the mouth and the face area which is why he went for the attack," said Patterson.
While police investigate what exactly happened in that Oak Grove backyard, they have euthanized the German Shepherd and said charges against the owner could be pending. If any, they would include endangerment in the first degree and harboring a vicious animal.
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