Hunter MastalerHESPIRIA, CA – Hunter Mastaler, 4, was attacked by his father’s police dog so severely that he had to have his leg amputated below the knee.

Michael Mastaler, a K9 officer of the Rialto Police Department returned from a two day trip to Big Bear where he had run a boot camp for at-risk youth. He let his 7-year-old Belgian shepherd, Jango, out of a large backyard kennel before going back inside where his son, Hunter, was playing video games.

Mastaler claims that in the span of 2 minutes while he was upstairs changing, his son opened the sliding glass door and went outside. Mastaler’s wife was not home at the time, having gone shopping with their 18-month-old son.

A short time later, neighbors heard Hunter’s screams as he was being attacked by Jango. Jeff Houlemard knocked down a fence to get to the boy and was able to pry the dog’s mouth open, releasing the child’s leg from its mouth.

According to Houlemard, “I kicked the dog, but it still didn’t let him go, so I whipped him around and pulled the mouth open. The attack was probably going on for at least two minutes before he was pulled out.”

Houlemard’s teenage son and a friend were able to pull the boy to safety while Houlemard picked up the dog, slammed it to the ground and held it in a bear hug until Mastaler came out and put the dog back into the kennel.

Houlemard’s wife, Shannon attempted to keep the boy calm by singing his ABC’s and 123’s while waiting for paramedics to arrive. “I was just trying to keep his mind off what just had happened,” she said.

Hunter Mastaler was rushed to the hospital but the damage was so severe his leg had to be amputated below the knee. He remains in good spirits and they hope to have him up and running with the help of a prosthetic within six months. Michael Mastaler has been has been at the hospital since the incident happened and is said to be “devastated.”

The dog was placed in quarantine for 10 days and it is likely that he will be euthanized. Jango had no history of aggression, received regular training and his record as a patrol, SWAT and narcotics dog was impeccable. There is no indication on what caused the dog to bite the child.

The departments four other police dogs are always under direct supervision of their handlers and there is currently an investigation underway to make sure no there are no policy violations pertaining to this case.


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