Child Attacked by Police Dog at National Night Out | South Pasadena

5-year old child was hospitalized

PHOTO: Provided by Josh Forbes | SouthPasadenan.com News | Sebastian Forbes, 5, received heavy sedation and stitches after he was attacked by a police dog in South Pasadena at the National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 3

A 5-year old boy was attacked by a police dog on Tuesday, August 3, at approximately 8:00 p.m., during the annual ‘National Night Out‘ event at Orange Grove Park in South Pasadena, California. The child, who suffered “superficial injuries” according to a City press release, was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to Huntington Hospital as a precaution.

Sebastian Forbes, the son of South Pasadena resident Josh Forbes, received stitches for his bite wounds on the left side of his face, near his eye and on his ear. Additional injuries were also evident, with bruising on his neck and shoulder, according to the father.

The incident took place during a police demonstration involving the South Pasadena Police Department’s narcotic sniffing K-9, Barry, an 8‐year‐old Dutch Sheppard who has been with the Department for seven years. According to the City release, the boy approached ‘Barry’ as the handling officer answered questions from the crowd while the dog sat next to him, “at this point, [the boy] in the crowd walked past the other children to pet Barry, who was spooked by the sudden movement and reacted.”

An account from the father relays a more graphic, and different, report of the attack, explaining that his family was 10-15 feet away from the un-leashed dog when it made eye contact with the boy and lunged at him. ‘Barry’ the police dog is not trained as a patrol or search dog, nor has he been trained to attack, according to the police department  — proceeded to attack and bite into the 5-year-old’s face, at which point the father and an officer pried the dog off the boy who was “bloodied and screaming.”

Forbes told The South Pasadenan news that his son returned home on Wednesday after his hospitalization, though “who knows what trauma has been inflicted on him, the repercussions we won’t know for years.”

In the event’s aftermath, Forbes has expressed dismay over the apparent lack of concern the department has taken, saying that immediately after the attack, officers downplayed the severity by telling him, “Hey calm down, accidents happen,” the father told The South Pasadenan. Aggrieved by the department’s dismissive nature over the incident, he added that he was also not able to see the boy once he was admitted to the hospital, but his wife was able to be with his son.

As of the publication of this story, SPPD nor Chief Solinsky have not directly offered an apology to the Forbes family, according to sources. In the a statement sent out on Wednesday, the day following the incident, Police Chief Brian Solinsky said, “This is an unfortunate accident. I can imagine how scared the family must have been, and my heart goes out to them. I am relieved to hear the child is ok.”

The City has stated that ‘Barry’ will be removed from patrol until the training staff evaluates him, insisting that, “Although Barry is well trained, it is important to remember he is a dog and can make behavioral mistakes. For this reason, we remind the public not to approach unfamiliar animals.”

The 5-year old South Pasadena boy, who is legally blind, is used to walking up close to things to see and feel them, he says. The father is not convinced that there is justification in the either the dog’s response to his son nor accountability being levied against the way the department has reacted.

This is a developing, stay tuned for more updates.

 


UPDATED Official statement from the City of South Pasadena on August 4:

On August 3, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., officers from South Pasadena Police Department were participating in the “National Night Out” community event. National Night Out is a campaign aimed at promoting community partnerships.

During the event, a demonstration was held with a narcotic sniffing K9. As part of the demonstration, the handling officer answered questions from the crowd while the dog, Barry, sat on the grass next to him. At this point, a five‐year‐old boy in the crowd walked past the other children to pet Barry, who was spooked by the sudden movement and reacted.

The child, who suffered superficial injuries, was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to a local hospital as a precaution. “This is an unfortunate accident. I can imagine how scared the family must have been, and my heart goes out to them. I am relieved to hear the child is ok,” said South Pasadena Chief Brian Solinsky.

Barry is an 8‐year‐old Dutch Sheppard who has been with the Department for seven years. He has performed at dozens of community events without an incident. Barry is not a patrol or search dog, nor has he been trained to attack. Barry is a scent dog trained to follow odors given off by narcotics. He attends monthly training, which includes obedience. Due to the circumstances, Barry will be removed from patrol until the training staff evaluates him.

Although Barry is well trained, it is important to remember he is a dog and can make behavioral mistakes. For this reason, we remind the public not to approach unfamiliar animals.

Anyone with additional information about this incident is urged to call the South Pasadena Police Department at (626) 403‐7270. If you would like to provide an anonymous tip, you can call “Crime Stoppers” at (800) 222‐TIPS (8477).

 

 

Eric Fabbro is a South Pasadenan whose family goes back to the 1950's. He graduated SPHS 2008, and Art Center College of Design in 2014. His versatile skill-set includes illustration, digital media, graphic design & photography. Eric is the in-house illustrator for The South Pasadenan, and the creator of our South Pasadenan icon logo. His work has been shown in galleries throughout the Los Angeles area.