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"The dog had the baby in its mouth": Update on pit bull attack, owner Sue Tacket's arrest

Update: Sunday night's pit bull attack on a toddler (see our previous coverage below) fueled an intense debate among readers about whether blame for the gruesome incident should be placed on the owner, the child's guardians or the dog's breed, which is banned in Commerce City, location of the attack, as well as the site of at least two controversial officer-involved dog shootings.

Zeus, the pit bull in question, died as police tried to wrangle it -- an outcome that breaks the heart of Sue Tacket, his owner, who remains in custody at this writing. Meanwhile, Tristan Klein, the nineteen-month-old hurt in the incident, is lucky to be alive following reports that Zeus leaped on the boy after he gave it a hug and took his head into his mouth.

See also: Two dogs killed by cops in Commerce City, site of two earlier officer-shoots-dog incidents

CBS4 reveals that Klein and Tacket were among a group of transients from Florida who have been traveling across the country. They made camp in a vacant lot not far from a Commerce City King Soopers.

In a jailhouse interview, Tacket told Fox31 that she'd watched young Klein approach Zeus throughout the day. Then, she took a bathroom break, leaving Zeus leashed to a pole -- and upon her return, she discovered that a dog she described as having never hurt anyone before had latched onto the boy's face and neck.

Said one witness who spoke anonymously to CBS4: "It was tough to come up there and see the dog had the baby in its mouth."

Commerce City cops who rushed to the scene had been trained to deal properly with aggressive dogs, a department spokesman says. However, Zeus asphyxiated as three officers struggled to control him after snaring him with catch poles.

Tacket is taking the dog's death hard. She cried throughout her Fox31 interview, saying that he was the only thing that mattered to her in the world. She also expressed confusion about why she was in jail for, in part, violating a Commerce City ban on pit bulls she didn't know anything about until she was taken into custody.

At last report, Klein was in stable condition and is expected to recover, although he'll be hospitalized for several more days. Meanwhile, the Commerce City Police Department confirms that an investigation is underway into how the officers who responded handled the incident.

Look below to see Tacket's booking photo, followed by a CBS4 package and our previous coverage.

Continue for our previous coverage of the pit-bull attack on toddler Tristan Klein, including photos and a video.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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