5-Year-Old Had to Get Stitches After Police Dog Bit Him in the Face

“It's unfortunate that it happened, and we're concerned that it happened,” the police chief said in a statement.
Josh Forbes' 5-year-old son with a bloody ear and eye-area after being attacked by a K9 police dog in Pasadena, California. (Photo courtesy of Josh Forbes)
Josh Forbes' 5-year-old son with a bloody ear and eye-area after being attacked by a K-9 police dog in Pasadena, California. (Photo courtesy of Josh Forbes)

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A police K-9 ran over and attacked a 5-year-old in California on Tuesday, leaving the young boy with bruises and cuts, including some that required stitches.

The 8-year-old Dutch Shepherd, whose name is Barry, was off his leash and bit the left side of the boy’s face on his ear and near his eye during what was supposed to be a routine demonstration at a community event in South Pasadena. The boy, crying and bloodied, had to be sedated and received six stitches from paramedics on the scene before he was taken to a local hospital. He was released the following morning.

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“He’s a tough little guy,” Forbes said, who’s exploring taking legal action. “We’re taking it day by day.”

Barry has since been removed from patrol assignments, according to NBC-LA.

Forbes had taken his wife and two sons—the other 9 years old—to the South Pasadena Police Department’s National Night Out event in Oregon Grove Park Tuesday night, which featured activities like rock climbing, inflatable castles, and carnival games for kids and adults alike. The event is held annually to celebrate and build the department’s relationship with the community, and the family had joined a growing crowd waiting for Barry and his handler to start their demonstration. 

Police told NBC-LA that Sebastian was the one who rushed the dog, but Forbes says that isn’t what happened and police are the ones to blame for the attack, not his son.

“He took a step forward and my wife said, ‘Stand back, buddy,’” Forbes said. “His taking a step back I think is what attracted the dog. But again, even with his stepping forward, we were still 10 feet away. The police are trying to paint it like he ran right out to touch the dog.”

“It all could have been avoided if the cop had him on a leash,” he added. “We all have to have our dogs on a leash, and this guy figured that he didn’t need one.”

The South Pasadena Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Barry has been with the department for seven years, according to the Pasadena Star News. The department’s K-9 handler will evaluate the dog, South Pasadena Police Chief Brian Solinsky told the outlet. He also said that the dog’s handler will remain on duty.

"It's unfortunate that it happened, and we're concerned that it happened,'' Solinsky said in a statement. “At the same token, it’s not reflective or a negative view of law enforcement; this really was an accident.”

Forbes said that he received a call from Solinsky apologizing for the event. He said that his son is still recovering.

In recent months, a rash of police K-9 attacks across the country have been reported, although that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: Police K-9s cause more hospital visits than any other use of force by police, according to The Marshall Project. It’s the reason why experts recently told VICE News that it might be time to begin phasing them out of policing altogether.

Last month, a Riverdale, Maryland, woman filed a lawsuit against two U.S. marshals after a law enforcement dog attacked her while she was pregnant back in 2019. In Granite City, Illinois, a police dog bit a 17-year-old during a traffic stop and didn’t let go until an officer tased the animal. The teen had to receive stitches, and his mother told VICE News that they’ll be pursuing legal action against the department.