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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, October 6, 2008

'EVERYONE IS TRAUMATIZED'
Infant son killed by family dog in Waianae

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Bob Vidinha lives behind the house in Wai'anae where a dog killed a baby boy yesterday. He said dogs in the yard often barked at him.

Photos by REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The dog that mauled an infant to death yesterday was kept in this kennel in the backyard of the home at 86-139 Kakaiapola St. in Wai'anae. The 2-month-old boy has been identified as Iokepa Liptak.

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HAWAI'I DOG ATTACKS

2005: A rottweiler running loose on Kahala Beach mauled a 2-year-old. Six days later, the same dog mauled a 4-year-old girl in a case that District Judge James Dannenberg termed "one of the most horrific cases."

2004: A 90-pound dog mauled a woman and tore off most of her scalp in Wailuku, Maui. The same dog had been responsible for biting a man on Old Haleakala Highway on Maui.

2003: A pack of dogs killed a mixed Labrador retriever in Wai'anae. The same pack of dogs killed a purebred keeshond the same year.

2002: A pit bull attacked a 10-year-old Wai'anae boy at Wai'anae Boat Harbor after the dog lunged and broke a restraining rope tied to its neck.

2001: An 18-month-old boy was bitten to death and his mother seriously injured by a pit pull on the Big Island.

2001: A 71-year-old man was attacked in his Pearl City carport by a neighbor's pit bull. The man fell and suffered serious injuries to his arm. Dogs owned by the same neighbor attacked two other elderly neighbors.

Source: Advertiser news reports

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WAI'ANAE A family's dog that neighbors say often barked and snarled at them killed a 2-month-old baby boy inside a Wai'anae home yesterday, police said.

The Honolulu medical examiner's office identified the infant as Iokepa Liptak. The dog, a female of mixed breed, was taken away at 4:30 a.m. yesterday by the Hawaiian Humane Society at the request of police, said Kawehi Yim, Humane Society spokeswoman. The dog was in isolation.

The baby's mother also was bitten and taken to an area hospital, said HPD Maj. Frank Fujii.

Bryan Cheplic, city Emergency Services Department spokesman, said the woman was in stable condition. An ambulance crew had been called back to the home less than an hour later to treat another adult, who was not taken to a hospital but also was injured in the attack, he said.

An autopsy will be conducted today on the infant. Until then, police and medical examiners are classifying the case as an unattended death, meaning no cause of death has been determined. Fujii said the investigation continues.

In the quiet neighborhood on Kakaiapola Street where the family lives, many of the residents have lived in their homes for years. Neighbors did not know the names of the occupants or how many people lived in the small, green house with a carport.

Jennifer Archer lives next door. Archer said she heard a commotion around midnight after she came home from work at McDonald's.

"I heard a woman screaming, 'My baby, my baby got bit in the head,' " Archer said. "I called 911 and I saw a woman in the house call 911. I can see from my home into theirs."

Alanna Matavao, who lives on Kakaiapola Street, said she woke up to hear a lot of screaming coming from the home.

"I don't know the family," Matavao said. "I saw the baby and the lady in the ambulance. We don't pay attention to the house. We only hear the baby crying and some toddlers once in awhile."

Neighbors said the dog, a black mixed breed they described as a pit bull, barked a lot when someone walked by the house. Archer said there were four dogs living in a kennel in the rear of the property.

Until a month ago the black dog lived in a tarp-covered chain link fence kennel in the backyard with the others, said neighbor Bob Vidinha, who lives behind the family.

Vidinha said every time he goes into his yard to water his plants, the dogs bark and jump at the cage.

"The dog was in the kennel 90 percent of the time, except for the past month, and then he was in the yard," Vidinha said.

A woman, who didn't want to be identified, came out of the house yesterday afternoon and would not comment about the death. She said: "Everyone is traumatized. It's just too sensitive."

A neighbor across the street, who identified herself as Roberta, said the dog would bark when she went to her car parked across the street.

"I wouldn't trust that dog. He'd growl at me," she said. "If you raise a pit bull correctly, they can be good dogs. They get a bad rap."

The city's dangerous-dog law provides for jail time and fines if a dog owner's animal inflicts bodily harm. Last year a Kahala dog owner was sentenced to six months' probation and community service after her rottweiler attacked two children, ages 2 and 4, in separate incidents on Kahala Beach.

In 2004 the Maui Humane Society impounded a pit bull that mauled a woman and tore off most of her scalp.

Yim said no one at the Humane Society could remember a dog attack like yesterday's.

The Humane Society issued 23 warning notices to dog owners and 22 citations that required the owners to appear in court for violations to the city's dangerous-dog law, Yim said.

"This is the first time on O'ahu as far as I can remember where a dog killed someone," Yim said. "Most of the time it's just dog bites. This is just awful. I feel for the family."

The Humane Society is working with police. No decision has been made on what to do with the dog.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.