Infant mauled by dog faces 'long recovery'

7-month-old boy in Newport News mauled by a pit bull terrier will live but "has a long recovery ahead of him," a city police spokesman said.

The infant, whose name police withheld, was bitten by the dog Monday in the home of his baby sitter, Newport News police officer Lou Thurston said yesterday. The baby sitter, who was with the baby at the time, managed to pry the dog off him with the help of her teenage son, Thurston said.

The baby suffered "significant injuries to the face and neck" and remains in critical condition at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, where he was airlifted by emergency helicopter.

The dog, a 1 1/2 -year-old neutered male pit bull, was euthanized at the local SPCA facility at the request of the baby sitter, said city spokeswoman Kim Lee.

Police would not identify the baby sitter and said they were trying to decide whether to charge her with child neglect.

The dog attacked around 7:30 a.m. Monday as the baby lay on his stomach on the floor of the baby sitter's home, police said. It's not clear what set the dog off, Thurston said, but the baby sitter, with her son's help, stopped the dog before it could shake the baby.

Lee said the dog had no record of violent behavior. The baby sitter, who also owns two Rottweilers and a Chow, readily gave up the pit bull to be euthanized, Lee said.

The baby was rushed to Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News and quickly flown by helicopter to the trauma center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. He later was transferred to the Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters.