No charges in death of 3-week-old bitten by dog

Susannah Murray
A photo of Susannah Murray courtesy Beuschel Funeral Home.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office has decided not to issue charges in connection to the death of a 3-week-old girl who was killed by a dog.

Susannah Murray was bitten May 25 at the Grand Rapids home where she lived with her family. Authorities said that Susannah was left alone in the living room for about five minutes while her mother and friend stepped outside for a cigarette. Susannah was sleeping in a baby seat less than a foot off the floor.

When the friend went back inside to check on Susannah, she saw one of the family’s dogs licking Susannah’s face. When she kicked the dog away, she saw that Susannah was covered in blood. The baby was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery, but died. Authorities said she had multiple wounds consistent with dog bites.

Neither Susannah’s mother nor the friend reported hearing anything while they were outside, and the other children who were in the house at the time didn’t know anything was wrong until their mother called 911, authorities said.

There were no previous complaints about the family’s three pit bull-mix dogs, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said in a decision released Monday. After Susannah’s death, police asked neighbors about the animal and found only one report of them chasing someone. Other neighbors said the dogs were friendly.

Even though authorities said they couldn’t prove which dog bit Susannah, her mother gave all three up to Kent County Animal Control to be euthanized. The dogs were put down on Monday.

The prosecutor said that Susannah’s mother wouldn’t face charges because she wasn’t reckless or grossly negligent — she couldn’t have expected that her daughter was serious danger because the dogs weren’t known to be aggressive.

“This was a horrible tragedy for the family,” Becker wrote in his decision. “The mother acted appropriately by calling 911, cooperating with authorities, and turning over the dogs to animal control to be euthanized as a precaution. There is no basis to file criminal charges in this case.”