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Baby critical; dog might not be adoptable

Alexander James Smith, the newborn baby who was taken from his crib by a family pet, remained in critical condition Wednesday at University of Kentucky Hospital.

Alexander, who was born Friday and arrived home Sunday, has been at the hospital since Monday's ordeal.

Michael Smith said Dakota, one of the family's dogs, snatched the baby from his crib after his wife, Chrissie, had laid Alexander down for a nap. After a frantic search, Michael Smith found them both outside, with Dakota carrying the baby by the chest. He chased her and the dog eventually dropped the baby, who weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces at birth, on a patch of grass outside their Jessamine County home.

During a news conference Tuesday, Michael Smith said his son had a cracked skull and cracked ribs — and had one collapsed lung and one partially collapsed lung — but had stabilized and appeared to be improving. Alexander, known as "A.J." to his parents, also had a cut on his cheek and had a couple of wounds on the back of his head.

In an interview Wednesday with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Good Morning, America, Smith described the Monday afternoon scene as UK Hospital staff worked to save the baby's life.

"You know they had about 20 people working on him, and his heart had physically stopped at the hospital and they used little paddles to resuscitate him, and the doctor's pretty much crying. You think the worst," Smith said. "Then you just fight through it, and he's a fighter. He's fought the whole way."

Dakota, the female wolf hybrid at the center of the controversy, has been in quarantine at the Jessamine County SAVE Center in Nicholasville. Michael Smith has said Dakota is a Native American Indian dog and the breeder told him the animal's grandparents were "90 percent wolf."

State law requires dogs, cats and ferrets that have bitten a human to be quarantined for 10 days, said Beckey Reiter, director of Boone County Animal Control.

A veterinarian told the Jessamine County Sheriff's Office and Jessamine County Animal Control that Dakota had been vaccinated for rabies.

But some experts question whether such a vaccination is effective in a wolf hybrid, said Sherman Jett, director of Jessamine County Animal Control. He would not identify the veterinarian who administered the rabies shots to Dakota.

"If this child gets sick, or it comes up with some type of disease — an animal can transit dozens of zoological diseases other than rabies — and the kid ends up getting some type of infection, it's best to have the animal, and then they can order the animal to be euthanized to be tested for those types of diseases," Jett said.

Michael Smith has said he does not want Dakota destroyed. He said she cannot return to their home, and he hopes someone will adopt her.

Jenise Smith, director of the Jessamine County SAVE Center, said that shelter has been inundated with calls from all over the country from people wanting to adopt the dog.

Whether the dog will even be available for adoption is up in the air because there might be some liability issues. The SAVE Center and the county could potentially be sued if the dog were to be released and then bites or injures someone.

"I wouldn't send it back out," Reiter said. "If I have knowledge that an animal posed a threat to a family member, why would I put an animal that posed a threat to anyone back into another family?

"Does that mean that no one can take this animal and contain it in such a manner that it wouldn't pose a threat? No, not necessarily," Reiter said.

In any case, Jett said, he wants to discuss the matter with Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goettl. The sheriff's department and county health department will also have to sign off on any decision, Jett said.

"When I talked to the owner this morning, Mr. Smith understood," Jett said.

Assuming those approvals are received, Smith or the SAVE Center would be allowed to find a new home for the dog. "We've had dogs that have bitten other folks before, and after the period of 10 days they were released back to their owners," Jett said.

In some cases, animals are destroyed. Those typically involve an unprovoked attack on a human; the animal must be deemed vicious by a veterinarian; and a judge must decide that the animal should be put down.

"We have had cases where a court has ordered an animal to be destroyed," Jett said.

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