Owner gives up dogs that bit off Utah boy’s hand, officials say. What happens next?

An online petition seeking to save two dogs, one of whom bit off a Utah boy’s hand, has more than 240,000 signatures.
An online petition seeking to save two dogs, one of whom bit off a Utah boy’s hand, has more than 240,000 signatures. Screengrab from Care2 Petitions

Two dogs that bit off a child’s hand in Utah will be sent to a rescue or sanctuary after 240,000 people signed a petition to save their lives, KSTU reported.

The owner of the two dogs, described as Husky mixes, had been cited Wednesday for possessing dangerous animals and public nuisance animals, KSL-TV reported.

But Rhett Nicks, director of Davis County Animal Care and Control, said the owners later agreed to turn over the dogs for placement in a rescue or sanctuary rather than go through court proceedings, according to the station.

The citations will be dropped as a result, KSTU reported.

The child had put a sock over his hand to play with the dogs under a vinyl fence in his backyard in the 3:30 p.m. March 3 incident, The Gephardt Daily reported. Despite hours of searching, police could not find the boy’s severed hand.

“There is fear that it was probably ingested by the dog that bit him,” said Jason Cook, a battalion chief with the Layton Fire Department, KSTU earlier reported. The boy’s parents provided first aid and the boy was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital for surgery.

Neighbors and Layton officials said the two dogs had no history of biting or other aggressive behavior, The Gephardt Daily reported.

Jessica Nusz, a friend of the owner, started the online petition to save the dogs, named Polar and Bear, KSTU reported.

“It was just a freak accident and the neighbors know it was a freak accident especially if you’re not careful with big dogs,” Nusz said, KTVX reported.

In the petition, Nusz argued the “unfortunate” incident probably took place because the dogs mistook the sock for a toy and tried to play tug-of-war, not realizing the boy’s hand was inside.

The petition, at the Care2 online petition site, collected 240,000 signatures.

The CDC reports that “dogs bite 4.5 million people” annually. And one particular group of people faces the threat of dog attacks on a daily basis; letter carriers. Each year, more than 6,000 letter carriers will be victims of dog attacks.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.