3-year-old boy attacked by dogs dies

August 28, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Benjamin Krediet, 3, of Salisbury, who was bitten by two dogs in Crisfield Tuesday, died of his injuries Thursday night at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

His grandmother, Lucretia Tyler, 75, was in satisfactory condition yesterday in E. W. McCready Memorial Hospital in Crisfield. She was bitten several times while trying to rescue her grandson, who was visiting her.

Benjamin was mauled by two malamutes while riding his toy bike in his grandmother's yard.

An animal behaviorist and a Baltimore-area veterinarian speculated that the dogs may have mistaken the child for an animal. The comments of Dr. Evan Fineberg of the Liberty Animal Hospital in the 8300 block of Liberty Road were representative of those of several area veterinarians contacted yesterday.

"Any dog can be vicious under certain circumstances," Dr. Fineberg said. "It's possible the attackers thought the child was another animal. This is a very tragic thing, but you can't really condemn a whole breed for it.

"Attacks by dogs are not as common as perceived, and in fact there are many more human bites than dog bites in a city like New York, for instance," he said. "That doesn't lessen the tragedy, of course."

Dr. Walter Burghardt of the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior in Coral Gables, Fla., said: "People make the mistake of thinking that animals are like people and act according to human logic. They're going to show certain anti-social behavior under stress, and can be unpredictable.

"Dogs should be obedience-trained and under supervision at all times," he said. "It's possible these dogs thought the child was an animal threatening them, and this triggered their attack."

Richard John Crockett, 36, the dogs' owner, gave the boy mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics of the Lower Somerset Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Squad arrived. Benjamin was then taken to McCready Memorial Hospital, where his condition was stabilized enough for him to flown to Hopkins.

The malamutes, Alaskan sled dogs, were killed at the request of Mr. Crockett, a spokesman at the Somerset County Animal Control Office said. The spokesman said the dogs tested negative for rabies.

According to state Trooper Robert A. Gunter, the dogs, 2 1/2 and 4 years old, were a common sight in the area. Mr. Crockett, owner of a Salisbury seafood company, customarily let them out for a morning run while he cleaned their kennel, then had them run after his truck for exercise, the trooper said.

Dr. Burghardt, of the veterinary society, said malamutes grow to between 70 and 80 pounds and reach their full growth at about 1 1/2 years.

Dogs are allowed to run free outside the Crisfield city limits, where there is no leash law. Benjamin and a stepsister, Katie Marie Pitcock, 7, were riding on a walkway around Mrs. Tyler's house when the dogs attacked, Trooper Gunter said.

Family members did not want to comment. Mr. Crockett could not be reached.

Logan Widdowson, state's attorney for Somerset County, said yesterday that he had not yet seen the state police report.

"I don't know whether charges will be filed," he said. "The ordinance under which charges can be filed says the owner has to know the dogs are vicious, and even then it's only a $50 fine."

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