Heartbreaking Loss: Baby Dies from Traumatic Brain Injury After Being Mauled by Family's Rescue Dog

Chisom Ndianefo
Close up of a Toddler''s legs
Unsplash | zelle duda

Keeping pets and a baby is often a great combination, but this family regretted their choice when their rescue dog mauled their infant to death. The aunt found her three-month-old niece incapacitated from the tragedy and called for help, but it was too late.

The Tragedy Of Mia O'Connell

The infant, Mia O'Connell, who came to this world prematurely in 2021, was frail at 4lbs 9oz. She belonged to an unmarried couple, Rhys O'Connell and his fiancée Ella Wood. They got engaged on New Year's Eve, three months before their daughter's birth.

The Aftermath Of The Incident

The accident led to brain damage and trauma for the already vulnerable infant. She suffered long days in the NICU as medical personnel struggled to keep her alive but failed. Her aunt, Heidi, said the pain will always stay with her and Mia's parents.

An Unlikely Threat

A small terrier
Unsplash | Zoe Ra

Cork Coroner Philip Comyn and Heidi advised parents against getting pets when they have infants. Heidi explained that the dog was a small terrier, so it didn't look threatening, yet it caused unsalvageable damage.

Setting Up An Inquest

A Dachshund Terrier
Unsplash | Afif Ramdhasuma

The authorities destroyed Red, the rescue Dachshund Terrier cross, as its previous owner also complained about its behavior. Cork Coroner held an inquest on the situation to ascertain it was an accident and rule out negligence.

Ignorance Cost Them Their Child

Rhys testified during the inquest that he and his fiancée, Ella, didn't know Red was a hunting dog before getting it.

Sticking To A Routine

A mother feeding her baby
Unsplash | Nathan Dumlao

They had a routine where Mia got bottle-fed every four hours and it was during her quarterly meal time when they discovered the tragedy.

The Worst Surprise

A Cradle in a Nursery
Unsplash | freestocks

The couple had Ella's sister, Emily, and the latter's six-year-old son over for the holidays. So, when Emily went to check on her child, she stopped by Mia's nursery but received the shock of her life.

Midnight Rescue

A baby in a Moses basket (Not the Actual Picture)
Unsplash | Christian Bowen

Emily recounted that she found Red standing over Mia's incapacitated body on the floor instead of her Moses basket. Red had a bloody mouth confirming it was a culprit. Emily picked the infant up and called for help at midnight.

Grandma Noreen Performed CPR

Noreen O'Connell, the grandmother, was in the house too and she performed CPR on Mia. Within a few minutes to hours, an ambulance with paramedics arrived at their home and took Mia to the hospital. The family was devastated in the days following that tragedy.

Grandmothers Always Know

Dogs in a Kennel
Flickr | n.37

Noreen told the inquest and first responders that she'd always had bad feelings about Red despite being a dog person.

It Was An Involuntary Decision

She confessed to rehoming the terrier after finding it in the alley near her house. It was, however, involuntary as Doreen's husband pressured her.

No Pain According To Medical Pathology

Dr. Margaret Bolster, the assistant state pathologist in Cork City told the infant's parents that her death was swift and painless. Mia suffered a brain injury that caused shock from hemorrhaging.

Animals Are Unpredictable

No matter how integrated an animal is in human life, they remain unpredictable hence the advice to always keep them at arm's length of vulnerable members.

No Negligence

The inquest confirmed there wasn't negligence from the parents and it's an unfortunate tragedy.