On Sept. 9 a chained pit bull attacked an 18-month-old girl on Feemster Lake Road, causing serious injuries to her face that required dozens of stitches. The girl, who had been around the dog and was familiar with it, wandered outside to try to pet the animal when the incident happened.
Tupelo-Lee Humane Society Investigator Jimmy Shelton said even though pit bulls have a reputation as dangerous, any animal can inflict damage, especially those who have been mistreated.
The dog was taken by its owner to the Saltillo Small Animal Hospital and euthanized.
The child is home recovering and no charges have been filed at this time.
The dog being chained may have added to it aggression toward the child, according to the Dog Owner’s Guide, an online magazine for pet and show dogs.
The guide states that a dog should never be chained outside unattended because they can suffer personality quirks and become aggressive.
Owner of the K-9 Training Center, Tupelo’s Gary Dodds, said the chained area could have represented the dog’s territory and when the child wandered into that area she was seen as a threat.
“Dogs aren’t wired like humans,” said Dodds. “They were wild animals that we domesticated and in certain circumstances they revert back to being wild. They will protect their territory and sometimes children walk into it wanting to play and they get bitten.”
Tupelo-Lee Humane Society Director Debbie Hood said whether a dog is chained or not, parents should make sure children are never alone with a dog even if it is a family pet.
“I’d say the biggest rule when it comes to kids and pets is to monitor both closely when they are together,” said Hood. “Make sure you observe your dog’s behavior when your child is around. Look for any signs of aggression. Usually you will notice if the dog doesn’t respond well to the child before an attack actually occurs.”
Hood said some bites also occur when children run from dogs, whether they are playing or trying to get away from the animal. She said dogs are natural chasers and when someone runs from one their instincts tell them to chase and attacks sometimes happen as a result of that.
Hood said dogs are great pets to have for children, but parents need to have a strong hand in teaching them how to interact safely with their pets.