‘A tragic accident’: Infant killed by family dogs in Johnston County

Johnston County News

WILLOW SPRING, N.C. (WNCN) – The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said it is their “unfortunate duty” Wednesday morning to release more information on a dog attack that killed a 10-month-old girl.

The sheriff’s office said deputies were called to a home on Ripairan Court in Willow Spring just after 8 p.m. in response to an animal attack.

Responding deputies found Scott Winberry trying to save his 10-month-old daughter, Malia Scott Winberry, after she had been attacked by the family’s Rottweilers.

Deputies began to help Scott Winberry until EMS arrived but Malia died from her injuries, the sheriff’s office said.

Animal Control took custody of the dogs.

“Investigators arrived on scene and quickly determined this incident was a tragic accident,” Capt. Jeff Caldwell with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said.

Scott Winberry said he had stepped outside of his home and heard a commotion inside. He went back into the home and found the dogs attacking Malia, the sheriff’s office said.

“Or (sic) thoughts and prayers go out to Scott Winberry and Bianca Patel for the tragic loss of their 10 month old daughter, Malia Scott Winberry,” Caldwell said.

Johnston County animal services director said they are starting the process of declaring the dog as being “dangerous.”

Each county has different laws on the books but attorney Matthew Bissette with the Whitley Law Firm said it usually takes a while to determine if the dog is a danger to others and if the animals can be returned to its owners.

“That’s going to involve interviewing witnesses, and even interacting with the dog. There’s also going to be typically a 10-day, sometimes longer, quarantine period for the dog,” Bissette said.

Bissette said if the dog has a history of biting or being aggressive, the owner has a greater chance of being held responsible for an attack.

This is the second fatal dog attack involving a child in the area in the last month.

On April 27, Jayden Henderson and her mother were attacked by two pit bulls, Blitzen and Athena, at a neighbor’s home in Garner.

Those dogs will be euthanized after the police denied the dogs’ owners’ request to have them returned.

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