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Baby girl is attacked by dog

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By David Giuliani

A 20-month-old baby was attacked by a dog earlier this week, sending the girl to a hospital for surgery.

It was an incident that left police officers “shook up,” an official said.

Around 9 a.m. Monday, Amaya Melendez was attacked by what state police described as a pit bull in a house near Harris Pond north of Las Vegas, officials said.

She was bitten numerous times and was taken to the hospital for surgery to remedy serious wounds, officials said.

Arriving at the house soon after the attack was Harold Garcia, the county’s public works supervisor. He said the baby’s grandmother was at the house and tried to pull the dog off the girl. The grandmother suffered injuries in the process.

“I was not comfortable with what I saw,” said Garcia, whose county responsibilities include animal control.

Garcia knew the dog’s owner, Lorenzo Melendez, the girl’s uncle. Melendez’s family owns Sangre de Cristo Gravel Products, which does many road projects for the county.

He said Melendez agreed to euthanize the dog. Garcia had offered to take the dog to the city of Las Vegas’ animal control department, with which the county has a contract for such services. But Melendez wanted the dog to go to its veterinarian to be euthanized.

Garcia said that if Melendez hadn’t agreed to having his dog euthanized, the county would have worked for that to happen anyway. He said Melendez was cooperative.

“There wasn’t going to be a choice. I would have gone to a judge to get a court order to euthanize the dog. Even if this would have been family, I would have dealt with it the same way. There is a difference between right and wrong, and this was wrong,” Garcia said.

He said he looked at the girl with her scars and wanted to “get a magic wand and make it go away.”

He said the state police were very helpful in the matter.

State police Lt. Craig Martin said his agency didn’t cite Melendez because it was an attack that took place on his property and there were no known incidents in which the dog had attacked people before.

Martin said the county had the authority to get a euthanization order in such a case. He said the state police were prepared to rush their report to make sure this could happen, but Melendez was cooperative with authorities.

He said state police officers handle dog bite calls, but this particular case was more egregious than most.

“The officers were very shook up over what they saw of the little girl,” Martin said.

When reached Thursday, Melendez declined to comment.