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Dog who bit baby gets a reprieve

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AUSTIN — A 2.5-year-old boxer that bit a 9-month old girl in the face survived a call to have it destroyed, but the Austin City Council on Monday also said the owner must take several steps to ensure it doesn't happen again and get $300,000 in insurance.

Its fate was in the council's hands during a hearing that essentially put the dog on trial for its life.

Austin Community Services Officer Ernesto Cantu, who handled the matter, told the council he was called to Mayo Clinic Health System - Austin Oct. 13 because of a report the baby had been bitten. He said he found the girl was bitten and had some bruises. He had the dog brought to the city pound.

"Do you believe it's dangerous," City Attorney David Hoversten asked him.

"Yes," Cantu said.

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After seeing the wounds, would you say it's appropriate to have it destroyed?

"Yes," Cantu said.

But the officer also said that the dog has been good, even timid, in the pound and has never attacked anyone or shown any violent behavior.

The owner, Grace Goodew, who is also the mother of the child, asked the council to spare the dog. She said she had just brought the baby home from the hospital because of a cold and put some food on the kitchen floor. It's possible the baby got too close to the dog or food. "It was my fault," she said.

Her daughter didn't need stitches and has healed, she said. "I would love to take her back," she said of the boxer. "I don't think she deserves to die." The dog wasn't trying to hurt her daughter, she said.

If the council won't allow the dog in the city, she said a friend, Kelly Janning, would take her. Janning said she lives out of the city and is looking for another dog for protection.

Ultimately, the council voted 5-2 to declare the boxer a dangerous dog and the owner has to take some measures to protect the people. Voting for it were Janet Anderson, Judy Enright, Jeremy Carolan, Roger Boughton and Jeff Austin; voting to have it destroyed were Steve King and Michael Jordal.

Even if the dog is given to Janning, the same measures must be done.

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