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Baby A.J.'s condition improves; shelter has received offers for dog

Alexander James Smith, the Jessamine County newborn who was taken from his crib by a family pet, was upgraded to fair condition Thursday at University of Kentucky Hospital, a spokeswoman said.

A.J. was born July 17 and taken home July 19; he has been at the hospital since July 20.

Dakota, one of the dogs belonging to Michael and Chrissie Smith, apparently snatched A.J. after his mother laid him down for a nap. The dog was later seen carrying the baby outside the home.

The infant suffered collapsed lungs, broken ribs and a skull fracture. A.J. was in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital, but his condition has gradually improved.

"A.J. is doing good. He's been breast-feeding with his mother about all day today. So it's as good a news as we can get," Michael Smith told reporters Thursday. "He's got one little feeding tube because he's not eating as much as he should, but he sleeps normal, wakes up."

Smith said he thought A.J. would be released from the intensive care unit in the next day or two. He might have to stay in hospital care a couple of days after that, but Smith said he expects A.J. to be sent home within a week.

A.J.'s temperament hasn't changed since the incident with Dakota, his father said.

"He acts and reacts exactly like he did when he was in the hospital when he was born, so everything has been positive," Michael Smith said.

Smith said people have been praying for his son from as far away as Alaska and Iraq.

Michael Smith said no decision has been made about Dakota.

The dog, a female wolf hybrid, has been in quarantine at the Jessamine County SAVE Center, the animal shelter in Nicholasville. Officials say state law requires dogs, cats and ferrets that have bitten a human being to be quarantined for 10 days.

The quarantine period ended Thursday, but Dakota will remain at the SAVE Center until a police investigation of the incident is finished, center director Jenise Smith said.

Jessamine County Sheriff Kevin Corman said the investigation should be completed within the next couple of weeks.

Dakota will not be euthanized, Jenise Smith said, but otherwise the dog's future is still in question.

Jenise Smith said she has fielded many offers of adoption from Kentucky and out of state. The center is not taking any more applications.

Jenise Smith said she has shared several options with Michael Smith; he said he doesn't have a preference on whether the dog goes to a private home or a sanctuary.

"We've had some nice offers from private homes," Jenise Smith said. "I'm really leaning toward a sanctuary but nothing has been decided yet. I just put everything on the table with Mr. Smith. At this point, he has not surrendered the dog to us. He could take the dog and place her wherever he likes."

"I think we all want the same thing. We just want what's best for her," Jenise Smith said.

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