The serene silence of Sentido Drive was shattered when a toddler was attacked by a dog and suffered injuries so bad he was eventually airlifted to a children's hospital.
The 3-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was attacked by his family's pit bull shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday and suffered "severe head and facial injuries," Kern County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ray Pruitt said Wednesday.
When the child's mother and father tried to stop the dog, they were hurt too, Pruitt said. Both suffered injuries to their hands and arms and were treated at Kern Medical Center.
The child was first taken to KMC and was listed as stable but in critical condition. The toddler was then flown to Children's Hospital Central California in Madera.
Initially, Kern County Animal Control could not find the dog at the residence on the 8900 block of Sentido Drive, south of Kern Canyon Road and Shalane Avenue.
The parents later returned to the residence and showed officers where the large, 125-pound male pit bull was hiding in a corner of the yard.
Senior Animal Control Officer Steve Eirich said the dog, whose name was not known, was quarantined and will be held for 10 days to check for any signs of illness. Then his fate will be decided by animal control. The dog's owners can fight the decision if they choose to do so.
Ellis Gupton, who used to live on Sentido Drive, said there are a lot of pit bulls in the area. The one involved in the attack was known for being the biggest one on the block, he said.
Animal Control spokeswoman Kim Rodriguez said that to her knowledge, the parents weren't in the yard when the boy was bit. Even though the family had owned the dog since he was a puppy, she said, people should always exercise caution when children interact with animals.
"This type of behavior is in every animal from a Chihuahua all the way up to a Great Dane," she said. "It doesn't matter what breed it is, it can happen."
More than half of the 4.7 million Americans bitten by dogs each year are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These attacks can be brought on by a variety of factors including the dog's obedience, health and the reaction of the victim.
The CDC recommends that children not approach dogs they don't know and to always remain calm. If an attack occurs, children should remain standing still and quiet, or roll into a tight ball on the ground if possible.
Animal Control's Rodriguez said people should also beware of diseased animals.
"If a dog is ill it could change their behavior, so if you notice a change in a dog's behavior, don't ignore it," she said. "Pay attention and be responsible."
Child Protective Services does not plan to investigate unless they are told to do so by the Sheriff's Department, according to Human Services spokeswoman Barbara Zimmerman. The incident is still under investigation by the Sheriff's Department due to the child's severe injuries.