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Fire sparks police search for father of baby killed by dog in Connecticut

A baby was fatally mauled by the family’s dog in Connecticut, leaving relatives grieving and first responders shaken, police officials said Tuesday. Hours later, authorities were searching for the infant’s father in connection with a fire set in another city.

Police and medics were called to an apartment in Norwich shortly before 8:30 p.m. Monday for a reported dog attack, police said. Officers found the family’s dog, a mixed-breed pit bull, had mauled 1-month-old Carter Settles while he was being held by a relative.

“The dog jumped up on the adult family member and began biting Carter,” said Norwich police Lt. John Perry. “The infant sustained multiple traumatic injuries and ultimately died as a result of the injuries.”

Officials seized the dog and brought it to the local pound, where it will be quarantined for 14 days while officials decide whether to euthanize it, Perry said. He added there appeared to be no criminal element to the attack.

“It is a tragic day in the city of Norwich,” Perry said. “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the child’s family and all of those who were directly or indirectly involved. As first responders — more importantly as mothers and fathers in our community — these types of calls are difficult to handle emotionally.”

Perry said the city was making grief counseling available to the family. He said the boy’s mother and paternal grandmother were the only other people in the apartment at the time.

“Obviously they’re dealing with something that was ripped away from them,” he said. “As you can imagine, any person in that type of environment would be grieving and confused about the whole thing.”

From 2005 to 2019, dogs killed 521 Americans, an average of 37 per year, and two-thirds of the fatal attacks involved pit bulls, according to DogsBite.org, a nonprofit group that tracks dog bites and aims to prevent dog attacks. The American Veterinary Medical Association, however, says any dog can bite and it’s not a dog’s breed that determines whether it will bite.

Meanwhile, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) away in New London, police said they were searching for Carter’s father, Timothy Settles, 32, in connection with a house fire reported at about 4 a.m. Tuesday. Officials said someone set fire to the front of the house and four people on the second floor escaped out the back. A woman was taken to a hospital for observation. No serious injuries were reported.

New London Police Chief Peter Reichard said authorities were seeking Timothy Settles for questioning and did not have probable cause to arrest anyone for setting the fire.

Authorities on Tuesday did not disclose how Timothy Settles was connected to the New London property, or if the fire was somehow related to the dog mauling. Perry said police believed Timothy Settles does not live at the Norwich home.

(Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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