Alva Vaughn figured if she slid the washing machine and a heavy slab of marble up against the back of the door, it would keep her powerful Rottweilers out of the house and away from her baby girl who was snuggled up in an infant swing.
She was wrong.
While Vaughn was in the bathroom in her northwest Harris County home bathing one of her nine dogs Sunday afternoon, another had forced its way inside.
She heard a barking dog and went into the living room. There, her only child, just 3 months old, was no longer in the swing, but on the floor, bloodied and lifeless.
The infant's hands were mangled, her tiny head crushed, said Harris County sheriff's homicide Sgt. Felipe Rivera.
"It's a horrible, horrible deal," Rivera said. "This woman loved the child. She didn't purposely endanger this child. But a child is dead. Parents have to put the child first, animals later. You have to maintain the child's safety."
Vaughn, whose husband was at work, immediately called for help. When first-responders arrived at the home in the 5900 block of Caruso Forest, Vaughn was outside, her baby in her arms.
The baby was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. Vaughn trailed behind in a patrol car, vomiting, the sergeant said.
"She was in shock," Rivera said.
Animal control removed all of the couple's animals and placed them in a 10-day quarantine, officials said.
Rivera said investigators believe the dogs were personal pets and the couple were not running a puppy mill. Residents in the unincorporated parts of Harris County are not limited in the number of dogs they may have.
Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services has received one complaint against the family — in 2008, for loose dogs, said agency spokeswoman Colleen Hodges.
Vaughn, 41, and her husband have four Rottweilers, weighing at least 150 pounds each, and five Rottweiler mixes, officials said.
Most of the time, the dogs stay in the backyard of the home. Vaughn was scrubbing the father of the Rottweilers, who weighs about 180 to 200 pounds, when the attack occurred about 4 p.m.I looked for an article, since I"m at work and can't play a video...heartbreaking.
Deputies have referred the case to a grand jury without charges.
Fatal dog attacks are a specific offense in the law and can result in a second-degree felony with a maximum of 20 years in prison for the owner, said George Flynn, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
Parents with dogs and children — especially large dogs and small children — can underestimate risk, said Hodges.
Dogs — especially large, strong dogs, such as Rottweilers — should never be left alone with small children, and be properly trained and socialized when they are young, she said.
"They are very large, very powerful animals. I've met nice, pleasant ones that let kittens climb all over them, and I've met some I wouldn't trust to the end of the driveway," Hodges said. "A wiener dog can send you to the hospital. A Rottweiler can kill you."
“Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are Anger and Courage.
Anger that things are the way they are.
Courage to make them the way they ought to be.”----Augustine