SAN BERNADINO COUNTY, Calif. -- A boy's lower leg had to be amputated after he was attacked by his father's police dog, according to a neighbor who helped save the child from the attack.
KTLA reports the incident happened earlier this week at a home where Rialto Police Department Officer Michael Mastaler lives with his family and his K-9.
Mastaler returned home with the dog from a weekend training session. He put the dog, a Belgian Malinois named Jango, in the back yard and went upstairs to change his clothes. Police said the officer though his son was inside playing video games.
Minutes later, neighbor Jeff Houlemard’s son saw the boy being tossed around by the dog, which had him by the leg. Houlemard knocked down a tall wooden fence with his shoulder to get to the child, kicked Jango and then leaped on top of the K-9 when the dog did not release the boy, he said.
“I … just ripped his mouth open,” Houlemard told KTLA. “I just started choking the dog.”
That's when Mastaler came running outside. He and Houlemard attended to the boy’s mangled leg while Houlemard’s wife calmed the boy, practicing ABC’s and 123’s with him.
The boy was airlifted to a nearby hospital where a spokesperson said he remained on Thursday.
Eight inches of the boy's left leg were amputated.
“It is a serious and very tragic accident,” Rialto police Capt. Randy DeAnda told the Daily Press of Victorville. “Police K-9s are highly trained and usually work under the direct supervision of a handler. Here, there was obviously a timeframe where the dog was not supervised. It was not intentional; it was not an aggressive dog just wandering around.”
Jango was set to be quarantined for ten days during an investigation that will determine whether the dog should be euthanized, according to Rachel Molina, a spokeswoman for Hesperia Animal Control.
A “beware of dog” sign still hung from the fence surrounding the Mastaler family home’s backyard on Thursday.
A GoFundMe page set up Thursday morning to supplement the boy’s recovery had brought in more than $4,000 by early evening.
“The Mastaler family appreciates the overwhelming love and support,” the page stated.
Mastaler became a K-9 handler in the January 2014, according to the Rialto Police Department website. Jango was born and trained in Holland, and his commands are in Dutch, the website states.