Blanca Garcia was checking on her vacationing parents’ dogs Tuesday night at their home in the Glendale hills when she walked outside with her 16-month-old daughter, Cassandra. With the child in one arm, Garcia bent down to give a bowl of water to her parents’ Rottweiler, Enano.
Instantly, authorities said, the 3-year-old dog attacked. The dog grabbed the girl out of Garcia’s arms and dragged her several feet down the driveway.
A hysterical Garcia wrestled the toddler from the 150-pound dog’s jaws and ran for safety into her car in the driveway. Once inside, she realized that Cassandra was badly hurt, put the child down, ran to the house and called 911. She then darted back into the car, police said.
When firefighters and police arrived five minutes later, they saw Enano sitting next to the driver’s side of the car, apparently watching the girl. Cassandra was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
“The mauling and injuries sustained was horrific,” said Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz, adding that the worst injuries were to her face and head. “I’ve been here for 21 years, and we have received calls for dog bites and attacks, but never — I can’t recall one like this — where a small child is mauled so severely and dies. You hear about it everywhere else, but not here.”
A day later, stunned relatives, neighbors and authorities were still trying to figure out why Enano attacked the girl.
Some residents in the neighborhood of million-dollar homes said the dog occasionally escaped from its hilltop residence but never caused any harm.
“He was a goofy, gentle giant,” said Dorothy Ward, who lives a few doors down and whose 12-year-old son played with Enano. “He was a friendly dog. We could not find anything to detect he was violent.”
Mail carrier Steve Valdez said he once saw one of the owners’ daughters walking the dog and, because it appeared that the animal was in control, he told her, “He’s walking you.” The woman smiled. Valdez said he didn’t think that the dog was causing a problem.
But in April 2004, a neighborhood resident who owned a small Maltese dog reported that the pet was being attacked by two Rottweilers, one of whom was Enano, said Ricky Whitman, vice president of community resources for the Pasadena Humane Society, which provides animal services for Glendale.
The Rottweilers had escaped from the yard and were wandering the neighborhood when they attacked the Maltese, she said. The Maltese died of its injuries. But because its owner did not want the incident written up, the matter was dropped, she said.