Many pets are loving and sweet, but this mom's account of what happened to her son serves as an important reminder that we should always be careful when kids and dogs mix.
Mom Tracy Fain is grateful her son Ethan is alive after he was viciously attacked by dogs on Christmas Eve. The 7-year-old suffered gruesome injuries after a pack of pitbulls from a neighbor's house bit him repeatedly, and now, Fain is warning other parents about the potential for this to happen to their kids.
"I want to begin by saying I've always been a 'dog person.' It is not my intention to instill undue fear through the sharing of my family's story, as I'm very much aware of the joy pets can add to a home," Fain wrote in a blog post about the terrifying incident. Still, she goes on to remind parents and dog owners that they should "exercise great caution when kids and dogs mix—no matter how well you know the dog or how comfortable the child is around dogs."
In the case of Ethan's attack, KCEN-TV reports that the child was hanging from a tree in his grandmother's yard when dogs he had played with and fed before "grabbed" and "dragged" him down, and proceeded to bite his face, neck, and body.
"My husband and I rushed outside to find a horrifying sight—our son on the opposite side of the fence at the mercy of the dogs," Fain, who had been inside when she heard her son scream, writes, going on to say she "got her boy back" with one of his ears hanging on by a thread, and Ethan losing consciousness.
"He received 300 stitches on his face, neck, chest, back, arms, and legs," Fain says. "Surgeons were able to reattach his left ear, and they sewed his right ear into his belly to see if it will grow tissue in hopes of future reattachment."
Ethan will need future surgeries, and clearly, he will suffer the psychological effects of the attack for the rest of his life.
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Of course, it's important to note that not all dogs attack; in fact, many dogs are friendly and loving with children, including our 4-year-old beagle. That being said, I am sometimes reminded that she is still an animal, and doesn't always act logically. Just before writing this, my 8-year-old walked past the dog's bone, and she growled protectively. The truth is, you never know exactly how an animal is going to react in every situation, especially if it's a friend, neighbor, or stranger's pet.
Fain offers these tips for preventing a dog attack:
- Parents should supervise all interactions between children and dogs.
- Babies, toddlers, and young children should never be left alone with a dog.
- Parents should educate their children on how to behave around dogs. Never approach a dog you don't know, even if the dog is on a leash.
- If you are attacked, give the dog an object, such as a jacket or tote to bite. If you are knocked down, roll yourself into a ball and lie still. Cover your head and face with your hands.
- Never scream at or run from a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or tending to puppies.
- If a bite occurs, the child should be seen by a doctor, no matter how minor the injury.
The Humane Society offers more tips for what to do if you think a dog might attack you:
- Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
- Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
- Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until they are out of sight.
- If the dog does attack, "feed" them your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.