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Toddler dies after being bitten by dog

By Staff | Dec 22, 2009

A toddler died Tuesday morning after being severely bitten by one of his family’s pet dogs at his southeast Cape Coral home.

Cape police, fire and EMS responded to a 911 call at 7:41 a.m. about a boy bitten by an animal at 235 S.E. 45th Terrace. Liam Perk, 2, was bitten in the neck area by his family’s 8-year-old male Weimaraner, officials reported.

“We don’t know anything for sure, but it appears the child walked by the dog and for whatever reason the dog was startled,” police spokeswoman Connie Barron said, adding that it appears there was no direct provocation.

“Something apparently, obviously, startled the dog when the child walked by and the dog immediately snapped at the child and bit him in the neck area,” she said.

EMS transported the toddler to Cape Coral Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:29 a.m. Barron said the State Medical Examiner’s Office has taken jurisdiction of the case to determine the exact cause of death, but no criminal charges will be filed.

Neighbors of the family voiced shock at the news Tuesday afternoon. The family requested privacy following the incident.

“Never saw this coming. Never would’ve predicted this,” Mike Carney of 230 S.E. 45th Terrace, said. “They’re a nice family. It’s a shame.”

Carney said Liam’s parents, Joey and Carrie, have a daughter who is a few months’ old.

“He was a cute little boy,” he said of Liam. “It’s got me shook up, and I’m not even related.”

According to Adam Leath of Lee County Animal Services, the male dog was removed from the home Tuesday, along with a female Weimaraner the family owned. Because the dogs were removed one “could assume the owners were not home,” he said.

“We were also asked by the Cape Coral Police Department to secure the scene,” Leath said. “The animals would impede them in doing their investigation.”

Bruce Sayers of 247 S.E. 45th Terrace said his wife, Jan, previously fed and walked the dogs for the family when they were out of town. He said the dogs, named Lloyd and Chessy, are playful but good animals.

“She would sit down with them and they would wrestle with her,” Sayers said. “She said it’s just like a bad dream.”

Carney agreed, noting the male dog was about 100 pounds.

“The other was a little smaller,” he said. “They were nice dogs. I could mess around with them.”

Sayers said he and his wife are shocked by the tragedy.

“And Liam, with his bright eyes, always sparkling and shining,” he said.

Whether the male dog will be euthanized was uncertain Tuesday.

“We’re really waiting for the outcome of the investigation with the Cape Coral Police Department,” Leath said. “We’re waiting on a convenient time with the family to discuss the options.”

Officials are also waiting on what to do with the female dog.

“We’re trying to give the family time to deal with the situation,” Leath said. “We’re looking out for the best interests of everyone involved.”

According to Leath, a Weimaraner is “a sporting breed of dog that works in agility.” An employee of Lee County Animal Services for more than three years, Leath said this is the first fatal attack that he is aware of.

“The is the first fatality that I can recall,” he said.

The department generally responds to between two and six animal bites per day throughout Lee County. Leath said some of the animals involved are owned by people and some are strays.

Lee County Animal Services works with the Department of Health to quarantine those animals.

“We encourage everyone to exercise due caution and make sure animals are well supervised,” he added. “I’m not sure if this played into this event or not, but our recommendation is to make sure all animals are supervised.”