The owner of a dog that mauled a 7-year-old girl to death in a Baton Rouge neighborhood Friday is now facing a count of negligent homicide, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said.
Erick Lopez, 20, was taken into custody Saturday morning, EBRSO spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said.
Friday evening, EMS and the St. George Fire Department were called to a home in the 25000 block of Kendalwood Road shortly after 6:30 p.m. in response to a child injured in a dog attack.
The girl, later identified as Woodlawn Elementary first-grader Sadie Davila, was rushed to a hospital but died a short time later.
During their investigation into the incident, deputies learned that the young victim had been playing outside a relative’s residence when a neighbor’s dog, identified by authorities as a pit bull terrier, attacked her, an affidavit for Lopez says.
The girl’s family member tried to intervene by hitting the dog with a walking cane but was unable to stop the attack.
Medical staff at the hospital where the girl was treated told investigators the child suffered from “numerous dog bites to her face and substantial damage to her skull.”
After the incident, deputies and East Baton Rouge Animal Control officers found and captured the dog, finding blood around his face and mouth, the affidavit continues. A “substantial” amount of blood was also found in the yard where Sadie had been playing.
Once captured, EBR Animal Control took the dog into custody. During an interview, Lopez, whose property sits roughly 150 yards from the home where the girl was attacked, told investigators he wasn’t home during the incident and that he regularly lets the dog to roam the neighborhood unrestrained, the affidavit says.
The document notes there is no fence or barrier between the two homes.
According to the report, investigators determined that Lopez had “failed to confine or restrain his dog, which unlawfully entered a neighboring property and attacked a 7-year-old female victim, causing her death.” He was booked into Parish Prison.
East Baton Rouge Animal Control director Daniel Piatkiewicz said the animal was euthanized Friday night, adding that his department had no prior complaints against Lopez’s dog on file.
In an email to parents Saturday, East Baton Rouge schools Superintendent Sito Narcisse described the incident as “devastating to our entire school community.” He said counseling would be made available to Woodlawn students and staff beginning Monday.
“Young Sadie was blossoming in the dawn of her life and education with so much promise awaiting her,” the superintendent said. “It is difficult to comprehend the enormous pain and remorse her family and friends are experiencing in the wake of this tragedy.”
The child’s teacher, Grace Feucht, described Sadie as a “fierce and spunky” yet kind little girl who brought “energy and joy” to her classroom.
“She was fearless and would sing her heart out in front of her classmates,” Feucht said. “She was a gift to me and made me smile and laugh many times. I sadly expect our classroom to feel considerably emptier Monday without her precious presence.”
Louisiana has seen at least three other deadly dog attacks since 2020.
In February 2020, 64-year-old Geraldine Hamlin was attacked by her family’s two pit-bulls inside their Shreveport home. She was transported to a hospital but died the following day.
Months later, Barbara Cook, 72, was mauled to death by her daughter’s two pit bulls inside the home they shared in Mandeville. News reports of the incident said Cook stepped in to intervene after one of the dogs snapped at her 10-year-old grandson.
Both dogs were killed by law enforcement. Cook’s daughter did not face any charges in the incident.
In May 2021, 27-year-old Dustin Vincent was critically injured in an attack by three dogs at a family member’s home in Sulphur. Media reports from the time said Vincent had failed to heed warnings from his relative telling him not to go into the yard where the dogs were kept.
He was airlifted to a Lafayette hospital but died four days later.
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