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Then, on April 13, an Akita escaped from a south Minneapolis yard and clamped down on the arm of 8-year-old DeVonta Prince as he walked to school. The dog shook the 60-pound boy, then mauled his scalp and shoulder. A neighbor beat the dog back with a shovel.
A state health report released in June found hospitals and emergency rooms saw a 40 percent reported increase in victims of dog bites in the state from 1998 to 2005. Overwhelmingly, the report said, victims are familiar with the attacking dog. It also found that most victims were 4 years old or younger and more likely to be bitten while in the home or the yard.
The study, based on hospital discharge data and medical records from the Minnesota Hospital Association, found that 3,600 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2005, compared to 2,600 in 1998. The number of those hospitalized saw a smaller increase, from 89 in 1998 to 95 in 2005.
Dr. Heather Day, a co-author of the study, said at the time that part of the increase may be due to hospitals' improved record-keeping, more hospitals filing their information to the Hospital Association and an increase in pet ownership, which she said is a nationwide trend.
Day also said young children might be at higher risk because they are less likely to know how to interact with a dog, have slower reaction when a dog makes a threatening move and the youngest of children are at a height that makes them more susceptible to attack than an older child or adult.
No dog breeds were identified in the report, Day said, because most hospitals don't specify breed. Also, Day said then, pointing to specific breeds may detract from the point that "any dog breed is capable of biting."
A family's deep sorrow
About 8 p.m. Thursday, Zachary King Sr., his right arm in a bloodied sling, returned to the home with family members, grabbed some belongings and left soon after.
He declined to speak with reporters, though his nephew, Craig Dyar, while holding a picture of Zachary Jr. and his sisters, offered brief comments on behalf of his family.
"My uncle and my aunt lost a son," he said. "[His sisters] lost a brother. ... I just want everyone to keep us in their prayers and let us deal with our loss as a family."