DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Sunday, two-year-old Gabrielle Looney was bitten on the face by her mother's boyfriend's pit bull. The couple took the injured little girl to the hospital, where her mother did the unthinkable. She lied to doctors and police about what happened to protect the dog.
"She tried to say that this injury to her child occurred from a stray," says Des Moines Police Sergeant Jim Butler, "And that's not something that sits too well for me. First and foremost we all love our pets but we have to take care of our children first before the family pet."
The dog, a two-year-old named Bowser, was seized by the city. It does not appear to be licensed or vaccinated.
"I will more than likely deem the dog dangerous vs. vicious or high risk because the dog according to the code did bite once at or above the shoulders of a human being," Sgt. Butler says.
Bowser's owner, John Houston, says he just moved in with his girlfriend and her daughters a couple of weeks ago, and Bowser and Gabrielle seemed to get along just fine. "They were always like best friends," Houston says, "She's a baby, messy eater, drops crumbs so he's always sticking around her, stuff like that. They play together. She tries to ride his back all the time. Stuff like that."
But on Sunday, Houston says, Gabrielle tried to kiss Bowser on the nose and he snapped at her. "Truthfully, I really don't know what he was thinking. I know that he understood that he was wrong," Houston says, "He ran into the corner and laid down, like with his ears down. He knew he was in trouble."
Houston admits he and his girlfriend lied to police and hospital staff about what happened to protect Bowser, and only came clean when they found out Gabrielle would have to go through a series of painful rabies shots if the dog that bit her was not identified. "After they told us the procedures, after all that then it was like, 'yeah, we have to. It's the right thing to do,'" Houston says, "I was going to end up putting him into the shelter anyway that night. Because it's like you can't trust it. If it happens once there's a possibility where it can happen again. And the kids are more important."
While Houston says he doesn't want Bowser anymore, he also says he doesn't want Bowser to be put down. "That's my best friend," he says, "I've been through everything with him."
Because the mother lied to police they say she could face charges for filing a false report and interference with official acts.