[caption id="attachment_81646" align="aligncenter" width="419"] The Alaskan Malamute is a generally large breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) originally bred for use hauling heavy freight because of their strength and endurance, and later an Alaskan sled dog. They are similar to other arctic breeds, like the Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Siberian Husky and the Samoyed. (Wikipedia)[/caption]A seven-year-old Canadian girl named Gracie Herntier-Clark was severely mauled by two Alaskan Malamutes on Sunday. The girl was transferred to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead upon arrival, said RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel.
The details of the case are leaving everyone involved both bereaved and confused.
The dogs were family pets of friends and, by all accounts, had never before displayed any signs of aggression or willingness to attack.
"Two Alaskan malamute dogs were seized and are being held by RM of Springfield animal control while the investigation continues," she said Monday. "It should be noted that the dogs were known to the deceased. This was not a random attack."
The neighbor's children had routinely played with the dogs and, despite their impressive size, had never had reason to fear them. The dogs, named Shadow and Bear, are being kept by animal control. A spokesperson for the agency states that neither dog has acted aggressive since they were seized.
The girl's schoolmates will have access to grief counselors, and teachers have been instructed to take the time to talk to their students about any concerns they may have. The counselors will be available to the children for the next several days, to talk about the emotions that the attack may stir, from anger to sadness.
Experts warn that, while this investigation is still ongoing, caution should always be taken when children and animals mix. Large breed dogs, while often lauded for their docile natures, have the jaw strength to severely maul children. In this case, the adults were present but had turned away for only a moment. The dogs will be held until the RCMP makes a decision in the case.