(New York Post)- A Florida mother was reeling after her 9-month-old daughter was fatally mauled by a pit bull as she sat in a bouncy chair, saying she’s numb after losing “the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Brenda Villasin, 24, told the Miami Herald that she dropped off her baby daughter, Liana Valino, at her paternal grandmother’s house early Wednesday, kissing the girl’s feet goodbye as she slept. But hours later, she got the call that every parent dreads — telling her to return to the Miramar home outside of Fort Lauderdale as fast as she could, according to the newspaper.
Upon arriving, police told Villasin that her daughter had died when a male pit bull about 3 or 4 years old — one of three in the residence — mauled her as she sat in a child’s seat.
“I am numb right now,” Villasin told the Herald. “She was the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Officials from Broward County Animal Care and Control later removed the three dogs from the home. The fate of the dog that attacked the girl — which was raised by the family since it was a puppy — was immediately unclear, the agency’s assistant director, Stefanie Chicko, told The Post.
“We’re trying to be respectful of the family for their loss and have a clear head as to how they would want to move forward,” Chicko said regarding the animal. “They’re still trying to process what happened on their end.”
The three dogs were removed due to the severity of the attack, Chicko said. Animal control officials will now work with Miramar police in an ongoing investigation, she said.
On average, 33 people in the United States are killed annually in dog attacks, according to figures provided by dogsbite.org, an advocacy group that gathers data on dog attacks nationwide, that were cited by the Herald. Of those, two-thirds of the attacks are committed by pit bulls — a breed that the group argues should be banned.
A neighbor, meanwhile, told the Herald that he was familiar with the dogs and said they were neither aggressive nor overtly friendly.
Villasin, for her part, said she’s not ready to blame the breed entirely.
“I still don’t feel any type of way about a pit bull,” Villasin told the Herald.
Officials in neighboring Miami-Dade County banned pit bulls nearly 30 years ago, according to the newspaper. No breed-specific ban exists in Broward County, Chicko said.
A woman from New Jersey who was visiting her sister down the street from where Liana was attacked said she immediately started praying for the girl.
“The minute I heard the baby was attacked, I felt like I knew her,” Jackie Knapp told the Sun-Sentinel. “They’re never going to get through that. It’s a big loss.”