Father of one-day-old Hamilton baby mauled to death by a Rottweiler suspected of taking own life

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The father of a one-day-old newborn baby who was mauled to death by a Rottweiller had died in a suspected suicide months earlier.

Natalie Johnson, who lives in the Hamilton suburb of Enderley, on New Zealand’s North Island, was reportedly using the toilet when her newborn was attacked on Sunday night.

The baby, whose name was Jackson, suffered devastating injuries and was rushed to Waikato Hospital where he later died. 

Grandparents of the infant Vera and Viktor Zabiyaka said they weren’t even aware of his birth until the moment they were called to the hospital. 

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Anton Zabiyaka (pictured) whose baby son died after being mauled by a pet Rottweiller on Sunday night, didn’t know he was going to be a dad when he was suspected of taking his own life in April

‘[The midwife] told us the baby was “beautiful” and a “good” boy… he had been bitten but he was still alive,’ the grandmother told the NZ Herald.

Speaking out following the tragedy, the grandparents said the baby’s father Anton Zabiyaka didn’t know he was going to be a dad when he died of a suspected suicide in April.

The late father, then 32, was released from prison in December of last year after smashing up hotel rooms in Hamilton in 2016 while high on drugs before carjacking his way to a town 50km away.

He was convicted on counts including aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and possessing methamphetamine.

Vera Zabiyaka – who immigrated to New Zealand from Russia more than two decades ago – said prison had not helped her troubled son.

‘I think if he knew he was going to be a father he would still be here. Prison doesn’t make people better,’ she said.

‘It is hard to accept your son is dead but as a grandmother, I cannot truly believe what has happened – this is unthinkable to lose two members of your family in a matter of months.’

The city’s council has seized a Rottweiller and one other dog believed to be a Staffordshire terrier.

The baby's mother had posted an ultrasound picture of the baby in the lead up to his birth

The baby’s mother had posted an ultrasound picture of the baby in the lead up to his birth

The chairman of Hamilton City Council’s Dog Control Hearing Panel councillor Ewan Wilson said they would destroy the dog if the court made that decision.

Even if the court ruled not to put down the dog, Mr Wilson said the council could use animal control legislation to launch an investigation of its own.  

On Tuesday night, Ms Johnson posted a picture of herself when she was pregnant and sitting outside on the grass on a sunny day.    

‘If only I could go back to this day with (you) still in my tummy, my son,’ she captioned the post followed by a sad face emoji.

The young mother also shared a photo of her baby boy while he was asleep with his hands in fists next his cheeks.

The baby was rushed to Waikato Hospital (pictured) but sadly died of his horrific injuries overnight

The baby was rushed to Waikato Hospital (pictured) but sadly died of his horrific injuries overnight 

Family and friends comforted the grieving mother in the comment section.    

‘I have no words, my friend. We are all trying to carry your loss for you, but I guess you won’t even feel it as the weight is so heavy,’ friend wrote. 

Another said: ‘We love you… and we got you. Hang in there and breathe.’

A devastated neighbour recalled the horrible moment she found Ms Johnson clutching her blood-covered newborn moments after the attack.

Karen, who did not wish to use her last name, was among the first on the scene and told Stuff she would forever be haunted by what she saw. 

She rushed over after noticing some commotion at the end of her street and had assumed her neighbour’s dog had escaped from their property again. 

As she approached the scene, she saw the Ms Johnson sitting on the grass verge holding the injured infant in her arms.

Tiny wails escaped from the baby as the trio waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Karen said it appeared the dog had attempted to bury the baby, as he was covered in dirt.  

‘The whole thing is horrible, every time I close my eyes I just see him,’ she said.

The Rottweiler was a new addition for the family, who already had another dog. 

Hamilton City Council animal control manager Susan Stanford said a decision on the future of the animal had not yet been made

Hamilton City Council animal control manager Susan Stanford said a decision on the future of the animal had not yet been made

Karen said the Rottweiler had been known to escape the property. She said she had helped return the dog earlier that day after he had escaped. 

While returning the dog she had met the newborn baby, she said. 

Ms Johnson had proudly shown off the infant to her neighbour. 

‘He obviously meant the world to her,’ Karen said. 

The dog was seized and secured at the Hamilton City Council animal control facility.

Hamilton City Council animal control manager Susan Stanford said a decision on the future of the animal had not yet been made.   

‘This is a traumatic time for all involved and our thoughts are with the families and individuals involved,’ the Council statement said.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health found there were 4,958 dog attacks that required hospitalisation between 2004 and 2014.

The research found most attacks happen at home, with children under 10-years-old most vulnerable.

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