JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Investigators are trying to figure out why a family's pit bull described as a "very loving dog" attacked a 3-day-old baby in Arlington Sunday night.
Police said they when they arrived at the home on Dickson Road in Arlington at 10:40 p.m., the baby was being transported to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, where the boy died.
The baby's father told Channel 4 that he and his family are devastated by the loss of their new son, Justin Valentin. He said the dog attacked the baby on the bed while the mother took a shower.
"I don't know what happened," the father, Mark Valentin, said. "My wife went to the restroom and the dog got to the baby. We're not neglectful parents."
The father said he and his family are grieving over the loss of their child.
Valentin said that the dog never showed any signs of aggression toward anyone in their family, adding that his 4-year-old son "has never had any problems with this dog."
The father said he had raised the dog since the day it was born, and he said it was a very nice and loving dog who was never beaten.
Valentin said the pit bull had gotten loose before in the past, but it was returned by neighbors with his tail still wagging. Officers with animal care who picked the dog up after the attack painted a much different picture, saying that the pit bull was extremely aggressive with them.
"I want parents to know ... don't think you'll be quick enough," Valentin said. "It can happen in the blink of an eye."
The young, red pit bull was turned over to Jacksonville Animal Control and Protective Services, then euthanized at the request of the family.
Police, animal control officials and the Department of Children and Families are all investigating.
In a separate case Monday night, Manatee County deputies fatally shot a pit bull that charged them after attacking a 5-year-old boy in Bradenton. Authorities said the boy tried to climb a tree to get away, but the dog bit into his arm and tried to pull him down.
"I would never recommend leaving an animal alone with an infant, period," Animal Control Officer Robert Currey said. "Even if it's a family pet, you never know how they're going to react to a new, basically, living being in the residence with them -- which is basically the animal's territory."
One local lawmaker is working to change the state's law on dangerous dogs. State Sen. Tony Hill said this latest tragedy of an infant dying gives him more reason to push for change.
The current law, which was passed in 1990, prohibits counties from passing laws that are specific to certain breeds, meaning there cannot be special restrictions for pit bulls, for instance.
In the spring, Hill proposed a bill that would remove that restriction. The bill didn't make it out of committee, but Hill said he will try again. He said that if his bill passes, cities and counties would be able to pass laws that require pit bulls to be muzzled or on a leash, for example.
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