LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 21) - A father was frantically calling 911 to report his newborn missing when he spotted the baby, bleeding from the mouth and clutched in the mouth of a family dog who had carried him from his crib to the heavily wooded backyard.
Four-day-old Alexander James Smith was rushed to the emergency room at University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, where he was listed in critical condition Tuesday with two collapsed lungs, a skull fracture, broken ribs and various cuts and bruises.
His father, Michael Smith, said doctors were optimistic the boy would survive, but a day earlier they braced the family for the worst and had to use resuscitation paddles to get a heartbeat.
"They took us straight to a consulting room with a pastor and gave us pretty much what was the last visitation," Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press from a hospital waiting room.
Smith said he and his wife, Chrissie, had just put Alexander James (or A.J.) in his crib Monday afternoon in their Nicholasville, Ky., home and were preparing for a baby shower. When Chrissie returned to the bedroom minutes later, one of the doors was ajar and both the baby and their Native American Indian dog — a breed that looks similar to a husky — were gone.
Michael Smith initially headed to the backyard, knowing that Dakota, a mixed breed with wolves in its ancestry, had a reputation for stealing household items like cups and wallets and depositing them there. He spent 10 minutes looking among the trees and bushes in the two-acre fenced backyard before finding the dog and child about 200 yards behind the house.
"When you're running through the backyard and you can't find him, every worst fear comes through your head," Smith said. "We had to try to stay positive, try and find him. My guess is five more minutes and he wouldn't be here."
Jessamine County chief deputy sheriff Allen Peel said no charges had been filed, but the case remains under investigation.
"It's unreal," Peel said.
Smith, who is the owner of a security company where his wife also works, said the dog was treating the baby as a puppy and wasn't being vicious.
But he expects that Dakota, who was taken into custody by animal control, will be destroyed. The 4-year-old was one of three dogs the family had owned since they were puppies and had no history of aggression, even when playing with Smith's two other children from a previous marriage, he said.
"It wasn't a vicious dog attack," Smith said. "She had A.J. for 10 minutes on her own, and if you look at A.J.'s belly, there's about 100 little marks. All the dog had to do was one bite and A.J. wouldn't be here."
Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.[I]