Police Dog Involved In Handler’s Son’s Mauling Removed From Duty

HESPERIA—(February 26) Jango, the Rialto police dog who attacked its handler’s four-year-old son on February 8, has been retired from its police department duties.
The dog, a 7-year-old Belgium Malinois, will not be euthanized as was earlier feared. Instead, the dog which had worked the department’s patrol, SWAT and narcotics details will be readopted by the training facility in Riverside, where Jango had originally been groomed to work for the department.
Jango’s handler, detective Michael Mastaler, kept the dog at his Hesperia home when they were not on duty. The dog, which was trained to bite suspects and felons during police pursuits, was normally kept in a kennel in the back yard and had interaction with the rest of the Mastaler family only in Michael Mastaler’s presence.
On February 6, a Friday, Michael Mastaler had left to take part in a boot camp for at-risk youth in Big Bear. Upon returning home late in the afternoon on Sunday, he went out in the backyard to allow Jango out of his kennel.
He closed the sliding glass door and went up to the house’s master bedroom to take a shower, leaving his son, Hunter, playing video games while his wife took the couple’s younger child to the store.
Hunter, apparently, let himself out into the backyard through the sliding glass door, at which point Jango attacked him.
The dog bit Hunter, whose screams prompted neighbor Jeff Houlemard to crash through a fence gate to rescue the boy. For an unknown reason Jango remained in “bite mode,” having clamped onto the boy as he was trained to do in criminal situations when his handler is encountering a resistant or fleeing suspect. Houlemard had to pry the dog’s jaw open so his son, Logan, 13, and his friend, 14-year-old Anthony Montalvo, could lift Hunter’s leg from Jango’s mouth.
The attack on Hunter lasted at least two minutes, according to estimates. Jango was born in the Netherlands and responds primarily to commands in Dutch.
Hunter was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where part of his left leg below his knee was amputated on February 12. He will be fitted with a prosthesis within the next two months.
Jango underwent a ten-day quarantine, during which time discussions about options for its future were ongoing, including being put down. Because of the attack on Hunter, Jango was ruled ineligiblefor further police work. Returning him to live with the Mastaler family was deemed unacceptable.
Euthanizing Jango will no longer be necessary, as Riverside-based Adlerhorst International, Inc. which serves as the police dog training academy for the Rialto Police Department and other departments and where Jango was given his orientation to American police dog function, agreed to take him in.

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