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Couple at loss to explain why husky fatally attacked infant son

RCMP officer Tony Hamori speaks to the media about the death of a newborn infant killed by a dog in Airdrie, Alta., on Feb. 16, 2012.

Jeff McIntosh/Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An Alberta couple, whose two-day-old son died after being bitten by their Siberian husky, said they don't know why their well-trained sled dog attacked, but they had taken classes to prepare their home for children and pets.

In a statement released Thursday, Rob and Rhonda Fradette said they have been too distraught to talk to municipal officials about what should happen to their dog, which has been in quarantine since the Feb. 15 attack just north of Calgary.

"The death of our son was an unthinkable, tragic accident," the family wrote. "We will never know what our family pet was thinking nor will we ever know why she did what she did. We now have to accept what has happened and move forward in our grieving and healing."

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The Fradettes, who operate Urban Mushers, a dog sled equipment company, from their home in Airdrie, had four huskies as well as a 2 1/2-year-old son when their second son, Grayson, was born on Feb. 13.

The next day, Mr. Fradette wrote on his Facebook account that he was the "luckiest, most happy guy in the world." Blessed with the "perfect family," he joked about being done with having kids, but said the couple likely needed more dogs to keep up with their boys.

The dogs welcomed Grayson home with "their lovely singing," he added.

Around 10 a.m. on Feb. 15, police and paramedics responded to a dog-bite call. The baby died 12 hours later, surrounded by family at Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary.

Mr. Fradette's next Facebook entry simply says, "hurting."

Neither police nor the Fradettes have outlined the circumstances around the attack.

But friend Dawn Donald told The Canadian Press that the dog somehow escaped its kennel and went to investigate when the baby woke crying in his crib. The family believes the dog, which had given birth to four litters of puppies, was trying to comfort the boy when it bit his head. "It wanted to nurture, care for [the baby]" Ms. Donald said. "It felt like it was part of the family. That's what it seemed like to them."

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The RCMP said a parent was home when the incident occurred and that the dog had no history of violence. There was no negligence and police have ruled out charges, according to RCMP Sergeant Patricia Neely.

The dog's fate has not been determined. "We have not yet entered into any discussions regarding the future of our husky, as both of us are still grieving the loss of our newborn son," the couple said.

A behavioural assessment will be conducted. If the family and bylaw officials don't agree about what to do, or the family doesn't offer input, a judge will make a decision on March 15.

The couple described themselves as "very experienced" with the breed, which they also race. They said they had taken seminars, including the Calgary Humane Society's "Old Pet, New Baby" course, and their dogs had gone through numerous training and obedience classes.

The family expressed gratitude to emergency responders as well as friends, relatives and strangers. By Thursday, the couple was close to reaching a fundraising goal of $10,000 for the Children's Hospital intensive care unit in memory of "Baby Fradette."

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Dawn Walton

Dawn Walton has been based in Calgary for The Globe and Mail since 2000. Before leaving Toronto to head West, she won a National Newspaper Award and was twice nominated for the Michener Award for her work with the Report on Business. More

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