As her pale, cold infant son lay bleeding on the floor and her two older children screamed, Chantel McGrew calmly told a 911 dispatcher what she thought had happened in her Ridgeville home that day.
Her husband, Quintin, hadn’t been feeling well. He was awake when she left for a doctor’s appointment Friday. But at some point, “I guess he dozed off,” she said, according to a recording of the call obtained Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request.
When she returned after 11 a.m. and walked inside her mobile home on Sandpit Drive, she saw her 2-month-old, Aiden, facedown with “his leg torn off and his intestines hanging out.”
Quintin McGrew was “somewhat awake” but still in bed alongside one of the two dogs they had in the house. The evidence of what happened to Aiden was on the fur of another dog that the family was watching, a Labrador retriever-golden retriever mix,
“I believe that dog got a hold of my son because that dog has blood all over him, and my personal dog does not,” she said. “It’s put in the bedroom away from the baby because he tried to go after the baby again when I got home.”
The recording details a call that authorities have dubbed one of the worst they’ve handled. A coroner had ruled that “parental neglect” led to Aiden’s death, but the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office said it likely would hold off on determining any charges against the father until next week, after more evidence is gathered and examined.
Sheriff’s Maj. John Garrison said investigators would release no further information until their work is complete. Garrison said the dog was released to animal control officers Tuesday, but its fate wasn’t known.
Aiden’s death has renewed debate about whether large dogs — even breeds such as the Lab, which is considered one of the friendliest — mix with small children.
Dr. Lucy Fuller, director of public health for the Charleston Animal Society, said breed, size and history cannot foretell how dogs will act with children.
A “predatory aggression” inherent in every dog can take over no matter how well you know your dog, she said.
“A lot of people say this breed is dangerous, that breed is safe, but you can never be sure,” said Fuller, adding that the Ridgeville case was one of the most startling examples she has heard. “No child is safe when left unattended with a dog. That’s kind of a rule.”
The family’s first pet, a Lab named Lucky, had always been “very good” with Aiden, Chantel McGrew said in the 911 call. But the dog that investigators said was newly adopted had an unknown history when its owner gave it up.
Chantel McGrew, who also has a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old, theorized that their toddler had at some point snatched the baby from a bedroom swing as her husband slept. Sheriff’s officials said the baby was in a room different from Quintin McGrew and that the dog had likely grabbed it from the swing.
Aiden was still breathing and blinking his eyes when his mother returned.
“Is there a way you can tell them to step on it?” she said of responding paramedics. “I don’t want my son to die.”
With her husband tending to the baby, Chantel McGrew asked the dispatcher what they should do to save the leg.
“If I need to, I can go stick it in my freezer with all my meat,” she said. “I don’t care.”
After they arrived 12 minutes later, paramedics performed CPR. But the boy’s condition became so grave that authorities canceled a medical airlift and took him to the nearest hospital, where the boy, born on Valentine’s Day, was pronounced dead.
The parents have declined to discuss the incident. A funeral for the child is scheduled for Friday.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.