Dog carried infant away from crib 'like a stuffed animal'

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. — The father of the newborn baby taken from a crib by a pet dog said Tuesday that the animal will not return to his house.

Meanwhile, Alexander James Smith, son of Michael and Chrissie Smith of Nicholasville, remains in critical condition at University of Kentucky Hospital. Michael Smith said his son has a cracked skull and cracked ribs — and had one collapsed lung and one partially collapsed lung — but has stabilized and appears to be improving.

In a press conference Tuesday at UK, Michael Smith called the ordeal a nightmare, and he said it might not have happened at all had he been able to fully prepare the house for the infant's arrival.

As it turned out, the baby was born Friday, three weeks early, and arrived home Sunday.

The father discovered that the baby was missing about 1 p.m. Monday. Smith said he was about to get a baby monitor, latches and other items that might have prevented the dog from getting past an inadvertently unlocked door. Dakota's sister, Nikita, can open doors on her own, he said.

"It will haunt me because that was my child," Michael Smith said.

Jessamine County Deputy Sheriff Anthony Purcell said Dakota, a Native American Indian dog, was large enough to stand on its hind feet and remove the infant from a crib. The sheriff's office is investigating, but no charges have been filed, Chief Deputy Allen Peel said.

On Monday afternoon, Michael Smith said his wife had just put Alexander — known as "A.J." to his parents — in his crib for a nap in an upstairs room. She went to check on the boy a couple of minutes later, and he wasn't there. The couple began looking for Dakota because "she has a habit of taking cups or stuffed animals. She takes them to several different places" in thick woods that cover most of a 2-acre fenced back yard, Michael Smith said.

"We began a pretty frantic search for the dog and A.J.," he said. Initially, "we weren't able to find either one of them."

Michael Smith called 911 and then found Dakota with the baby outside. "She was carrying A.J. like she would carry a stuffed animal, very gentle, kind of like a loaf of bread."