Looking back on the day Stormy, a five-year-old pit bull-German shepherd mix attacked a neighbor's dog, Dawn Sills remembered thinking it could have been her granddaughter.
She said she warned her daughter to get rid of the dog, as did her father, for the sake of 18-month-old Ryleigh-Jaiyde's safety.
Wednesday morning, her fears came true. Sills awoke to the sound of frantic screaming of "get the baby, get the dog" and she found her granddaughter, the baby's father Arnold Cornett and Stormy in the pool. Ryleigh-Jaiyde and Cornett had been attacked.
Sills thinks it started when the baby got too close to Stormy's food bowl. When Stormy attacked, Cornett jumped in the pool to try to shock the dog so he would release his daughter, she said.
Ryleigh was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center and then to Delray Medical Center where she underwent surgery for a collapsed lung and broken ribs, Sills said. Cornett was taken Wellington Regional Medical Center where he received nine staples for bites to his arm. He was released Wednesday afternoon.
Stormy was secured in the backyard by Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control. Officers tranquilized the dog with a dart gun. Stormy fell to the ground while officers guarded the gate, one with a gun drawn.
An investigator from the state Department of Children and Families' Rapid Response Team is investigating the safety of the home, DCF spokeswoman Elisa Cramer said.
Tim Kelly, the boyfriend of Ryleigh-Jaiyde's mother Robyn Sills, said he wants to euthanize the dog even if Animal Care and Control says it isn't necessary.
A few months ago, Stormy and the family's other dog, a four-year-old Border Collie named Gizmo, ambushed a neighbor's dog while on a walk, Sills said. The neighbor, Liliana Echevarri, said her dog, Blondie, was injured, but has since recovered. Dawn Sills was bitten by Stormy while trying to break up the fight.
Animal Care and Control classified Stormy and Gizmo as "potentially dangerous," said director Dianne Sauve.
Sauve said officials are still investigating, but Stormy will not be allowed back in the suburban West Palm Beach house on Sumter Road, and could be euthanized. The Border Collie was also taken by Animal Care and Control, which she said is typical if a person is injured, and a decision will be made whether to allow him to return home.
Stormy was vaccinated but not sterilized, Sauve said. Unsterilized dogs tend to be more aggressive, she said.
After the incident with the neighbor's dog, Sauve said the dogs were not allowed to be outside without a leash.
"It was a minor bite," Sauve said of the dog fight. "But it was enough to red-flag the dogs in our computer and keep an eye out for any other events that might go on."
Leaving a dog unattended with a baby is not recommended, she said, adding it is basically "setting the dogs up for failure and setting the people up for harm.
"It's important to look at what potentially caused this. In most situations it's humans that set them up to fail," she said. "You set up a perfect storm and it usually ends in tragedy. And the loser is the dog."