HOUSTON, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A pet Rottweiler forced its way into a Houston-area home and killed its owners' baby daughter, police said.
The attack occurred while Alva Vaughn was washing another of her nine dogs in the bathroom, the Houston Chronicle reported. She had blocked the outside door with a marble slab and an old washing machine, believing that would keep the other dogs out of the house.
The baby, 3 months old, was in a swing in the living room. When Vaughn heard a dog barking, she rushed to the child and found her on the floor with her head and hands mangled, the report said.
"It's a horrible, horrible deal," said Sgt. Felipe Rivera of the Harris County sheriff's department. "This woman loved the child. She didn't purposely endanger this child. But a child is dead. Parents have to put the child first, animals later. You have to maintain the child's safety."
The case has been referred to a grand jury. Owners of dogs that cause death can be charged with a crime in Texas.
Vaughn and her husband owned four Rottweilers and five mixed-breed dogs.
Colleen Hodges, a spokeswoman for the county public health agency, said families with small children and dogs need to take extra precautions with powerful dogs like Rottweilers.
"They are very large, very powerful animals. I've met nice, pleasant ones that let kittens climb all over them, and I've met some I wouldn't trust to the end of the driveway," Hodges said. "A wiener dog can send you to the hospital. A Rottweiler can kill you."