Monday, May 29, 2006

Tot Mauled by Pit Bull

Tot mauled by pit bull
Police: Attack on 18-month-old girl is 2nd dog-bite incident at home
By Vic Ryckaert

One time before, police say, animal control officers had been called to the Near-Westside home over dog-bite incidents.

SCENE: A pit bull attacked 18-month-old Amaia Hess at 1:40 p.m. Friday at this duplex in the 1300 block of South Belmont Avenue, Indianapolis. The girl was undergoing surgery Friday.

Her mother and a man who lives in the duplex were treated for shock.

The second time, Friday, was horrific.

A pit bull mauled 18-month-old Amaia Hess in the front yard of the home in the 1300 block of South Belmont Avenue.

The toddler suffered damage to her eyes and has other wounds to her face, said Sgt. Matthew Mount of the Indianapolis Police Department.

She was in surgery late Friday night at Riley Hospital for Children. A hospital spokesman said she was in critical condition.

Witnesses described a terrible scene in the yard.

"I saw the dog tearing the baby up like a piece of meat," said Rhonda Smith, who saw the attack from her home across the street. "That was horrible. I never want to see this again as long as I live."

The dog's owner, Mark Hamilton, 42, was out of town Friday but could face fines from the city or criminal charges in the case, which remains under investigation.

The attack took place about 1:40 p.m. in the front yard of a single-story duplex with broken windows and weather-beaten trim.

The child and her mother were visiting Michael Hamilton, who lives at the home with his uncle, police said. Hamilton, 21, opened the front door to go in, and the dog escaped, heading straight for Amaia.

"Michael was able to pull the dog off Amaia," Mount said in a statement, "but only after she was viciously mauled."

The girl's mother, Bobbie Tomlin, 20, 2100 block of Crossford Circle, and Hamilton were treated for shock and released from Wishard Memorial Hospital.

Animal Care and Control officers captured and caged the dog. A second dog was also taken from the home.

Martha Short lives nearby and said the dog that attacked the toddler bit her in November.

"Once it locked its jaws on my stomach, it started shaking me," Short said, lifting her shirt to show six red scars on her abdomen that she said were left by the animal's teeth.

"That dog should not be around society -- period."

A police report confirms that Short was treated for injuries from a dog bite and a fight with her boyfriend at Methodist Hospital on Nov. 8. Court records show police were most concerned with the allegation of domestic violence in that case and did not identify or take action against the dog.

While Indianapolis has rules against vicious dogs, it has no ordinances specifically aimed at pit bulls.

"We don't prosecute dogs," said city Prosecutor Teri Kendrick. "We prosecute dog owners. Some of the worst cases we have seen did not involve pit bulls."

12 deaths a year in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 4.7 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year.

About 800,000 seek medical attention -- half of them children.

Of those injured, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department, and about 12 will die.

The rate of injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9.

Nearly two-thirds of injuries in children 4 and younger are to the head or neck.

Other attacks by dogs in Indiana

• July 1, 2005: Boyd W. Fiscus, 83, rural Morgan County, is attacked and killed by four dogs owned by a neighbor.

• June 8, 2005: Jane Brown, 69, Bluffton, is attacked while mowing her lawn and mauled by three mixed-breed dogs.

• May 1, 2005: Julia Beck, 87, dies after being mauled by dogs in her Marion home.

• August 2004: Mary H. DeLacy, 87, is killed by six pit bulls in Daviess County.

• Feb. 19, 2003: A Labrador-St. Bernard mix attacks a 17-month-old Columbus girl. She is treated at a hospital and released.

• Jan. 28, 2003: A 1-year-old Indianapolis girl is attacked by a pit bull. Her face is badly slashed, and she undergoes surgery at Riley Hospital for Children.

• March 26, 2002: A 3-year-old Indianapolis boy is attacked in his home by one of five dogs belonging to his family. The boy's skull is fractured.

• April 3, 2001: A stray dog attacks a 6-year-old in a Decatur Township yard where he is playing. He undergoes two hours of surgery to repair wounds to his shoulder, right cheek and lower lip.
• June 10, 2000: Census worker Dorothy Stewart, 71, is found dead of severe dog bites outside a rural Brown County home.

Rules governing dangerous pets in Indiana, Marion County

The owners of dangerous pets can face civil or criminal penalties in Indiana.

Under state law, the owner of a dog that bites another person can be charged with a misdemeanor. If the dog kills a person, its owner may be charged with a felony.

In Marion County, a local ordinance requires vicious, dangerous or fierce animals to be confined and restrained. Anytime the animal threatens a neighbor, its owner can be ticketed and faces a minimum $500 fine. The maximum fine is $2,500. Anytime the animal gets off its leash or crawls under a fence, the owner can be fined $50.

City Prosecutor Teri Kendrick said prosecutors generally weigh the circumstances in each incident before deciding whether to pursue a civil or criminal case.


Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

• Teach children not to approach strange dogs.

• Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations. All dogs can bite if provoked.• Never disturb a dog sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

• If a dog approaches, stay still. Most times a dog will go away when it determines there's no threat.

• If a strange dog approaches, remain calm, speak calmly and firmly, back away slowly and avoid eye contact.

• If knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck; protect your face.

Source: American Veterinary Association


Blogger Conners said...

I like the Stay Safe part of the article, but that SHOULD be common sense.
With the 18 month toddler, it makes me wonder how the parents of the girl would even allow the dog with her after the first attack? What is WRONG with PEOPLE?!
The dog showed fierce aggression to the child one time. Did they suspect it would happen again? As a parent, would you take that chance? I certainly wouldn't!
This is a sure case of negligence on the part of both the mother and the owner.

3:06 PM  

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