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New family dog bites 20-month-old girl on face, experts give advice to avoid similar accidents

READ MORE: New family dog bites 20-month-old girl on face, experts give advice to avoid similar accidents

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A 20-month-old girl is in the hospital after being bitten by a family dog in Wilmington. New Hanover County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jerry Brewer says the girl had surgery for major lacerations to her face.

Wilmington Police Department spokesman Det. Kevin Smith says it happened at 218 Southgate Road.

New Hanover County Animal Control Services has the dog, a boxer, in custody. Brewer says the family adopted the dog earlier this week from an elderly woman, but there was no indication the dog had any history of aggression upon adoption. Brewer says the child's mother expressed some concerns recently about the dog, though.

Brewer says the dog will be quarantined for ten days. After that point, the owner can claim it. If not, the dog will be euthanized.

WWAY has learned that the mother of the child had called several rescue services Thursday, trying to get the family's adopted boxer picked up because of aggressive behavior. Though advised to board the dog herself, it was too late. The dog attacked her daughter. Fortunately though, there are precautions you can take to avoid this from happening in your family.

Doctor Meghan Tayloe, a veterinarian at the Highsmith Animal Hospital in Wilmington, says before adopting a dog, there are several things to consider. Researching the dog's breed, upbringing and personality are all very important. She also suggests bringing in the entire family and other pets to see how the dog interacts with them.

“Even if you need to leave the dog on the leash in the beginning to have some control over it, and I mean a short leash, a six foot leash, not a retractable leash,” Tayloe says.

Once in the home, Diane Gallagher of Dog Train, says establishing control and rewarding good habits is key when the dog is interacting with a child.

“We want to reinforce good responses. Introducing the baby, here's the baby, here's a piece of cheese or have a piece of liver treat,” Gallagher says. “So the dog thinks ‘baby cool, I get extra treats for this.'"

Gallagher says it is important to bring the dog into the room the child is in, as apposed to bringing the child into a room the dog is in. This ensures the dog will not feel threatened by the child encroaching on its territory. Doctor Tayloe says you can never be too sure what a dog thinks of a child.

“They're small like prey can be, unfortunately,” she says. “A lot of times children can be more demonstrative than adults can be. I mean, they certainly put them on edge, I mean they grab them and they want to touch them.”

Gallagher says if you decide on adopting a rescue dog, training is imperative.

“The first thing people need to do when the get a rescue dog is investigate training because you lay out the foundation for how you want to live,” Gallagher says. “That's how you create a relationship, that's how you create a language of learning with the dog and without that you got nothing.”

She advises prospective dog owners not to adopt until children are at least five years old.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


"are college grad, well

"are college grad, well educated, church going, extremely nice and smart people"

what does this have to do with anything? weak attempt at defending the parents. it's the parents fault, plan and simple. not the dogs, not the childs. The PARENTS.


This is my brother you are talking about, FYI they are amazing parents and both RN's this is not the parents fault!!! If you dont have anything nice to say stay out of this and mind your own business worry about your own kids. Thanks

God Bless you!

I agree with you .......some

I agree with you .......some of this people have no home training....IF YOU DONT HAVE ANYTHING GOOD TO SAY DONT SAY ANYTHING. I hope the baby be okay !!!


"college grad, well educated, church going, extremely nice and smart people."

The education and religion of the parents has nothing to do with the dog..... I hope the little child is ok.

People really need to use

People really need to use their brains. The dog lived with an elderly woman. It was OBVIOUSLY not used to kids. Kids can be clingy and overwhelming to an animal. You don't put the child in a compromising position in the first week. But watch them kill the dog anyways.

My cat scratched my arm this

My cat scratched my arm this morning!! Whom do I call for head lines??

Guest 2012

Your post has to be the most asinine thing I've ever read, period.

On any website,
in any paper,
or any magazine.

Thank you for re-affirming everyone's faith in humanity.

Really insensitive

This was a 20 month old baby who had to undergo surgery on her face. You should know the facts before making smarta@@ remarks.

Well when

Well when you get bit in the face and it requires surgery give WWAY a call. Until then go stand on the corner and wait on that little short bus that picks you up.

Parents Guilty, not dog

What sensible parent would bring a strange dog into their home and give a child full access without knowing the dog? The parents are the guilty ones here......yet the dog will be likely punished by death. Some people shouldn't have children or dogs!


GET OFF HERE if you dont have anything nice to freakin say!!!! This are WONDERFUL parents who bend over backwards for there kids, its a tragic time right now and you smart ass no good comments are not needed sweetie. To maybe you should be tending your dogs/kids whatever u have instead of running your mouth about my family thanks :)

Wow i did not realize you

Wow i did not realize you were there when this unfortunate incident happened. Maybe you should know the facts before making harsh judgments on a family. Many facts in this story are false and this child did not have full access to the dog...where did you find that information? Instead of criticizing and judging another maybe you should learn the truth. This is a sad horrible situation and people like you only fuel the fire and make it worse.


We adopted a 7 pound mix 3 months ago. We have a 5 year old grandchild who is at our house almost daily. I still watch their interactions carefully. The dog is very submissive and loves everyone but you never know with a strange animal.


It must have been a full grown dog, we took in a full grown lab once and it growled and showed teeth for the first week until it got relaxed and use to the new family.He was just scared and confused. After that week he was perfect. For the first week I would not allow my child to do much with the dog other than pet it as I was scared of what the dog may do. A full grown dog is different than a puppy when going to a new house, it takes more time for them to adjust. I sure hope the little child will not have a fear of dogs and will be okay.

Not the dog's fault

A dog that has only been in your possession one day has not bonded with family members. Folks should warn children to use caution around a new animal until they get to know each other (no matter how counter-inuitive this may seem to a child).

It is likely that the child got down in the dog's face and hugged it or something along those lines (which can be perceived as a challenge by a dog). I too hope this animal would not be euthanized...closer supervision by the parent and setting some boundaries for the child would have prevented this.

By closer supervision, I don't mean was the parent in the room...I mean a warning to the child not to get right in the dog's face.

I would not say this is extremely unusual for that breed, but it probably would not have happened if it weren't for something I described.

I hope the family understands this, and gets some education on the subject before making a decision about the animal's disposition.

Now, if it were a pit bull...nighty night.


nighty night?
Ignoramus.....pit bulls are loving and loyal.
Get a life and don't believe the hype!

Nitey Nite Pit-Bull??

We own a pit-bull who is the sweetest dog ever! " We have 6 grandchildren with the youngest only 10 months old. This dog loves everyone and doesn't know a stranger!! Please!! The person making the comment about pit-bulls needs to get educated about the breed. "It's the owner and NOT the dog!!

The breed...

should be outlawed... period... end of story. The "hype" here is from a few owners that do indeed know how to handle their dog but on the whole the Pit is a dangerous breed if not handled correctly. There are more than enough facts to support this so bury your heads in the sand if you want but that doesn't change the facts.

Now, if it were a pit bull...nighty night?!?!

Seriously?!?! You just showed your ignorance. There are no bad breeds. Saying there is is like saying there's a bad race or gender. There isn't.

Pit bulls and others bred for fighting, killing

All you have to do is Google the statistics to see which are the violence prone breeds. Pit bulls lead the pack, boxer is their first cousin. It should be against the law for anyone to own one of these breeds without a license. It should be against the law for a felon to own such a breed. When I was in the fifth grade a doberman mauled on of my best friends, that was 56 years ago---I still think about it often.

Boxers and pits are not the same

Actually, boxers and pits are not closely related at all. Boxers are in the working class group, pits are in the terriers. They don't have many common ancestors in the breeds at all (boxers were actually genetically formed somewhat recently, usually considered in the 30's in Germany). They're mostly a mix of an english bulldog, low to the ground type dog, and molosser/mastiff type breed. And boxers consisentently rank on all top lists for family pets. Obviously, there's a lot we don't know here, but saying boxers and pits are cousins is like saying chinese and canadaians are. (for the record, I have nothing against pits, I'm just a life long boxer owner). And as far as rescue, unfortunately, I don't know if he will be helped or not. There are hundreds of dogs every day put down that have never shown any aggression at all, although I belive that this particular dog was put in a situation where he was set up to fail, it would still be difficult to place because any reputable rescue would have to disclose what happened, and why take the chance when there are so many other animals that need help in rescue? I feel for every one involved, the only good I hope comes out of this is maybe educating someone else. This is the kind of story that will haunt you and stay with you, and that will hopefully lead to a better understanding of introducing dogs and children, especially older dogs.


Just wrong.....

You're absolutely

You're absolutely right....every dog is prone to bite, especially when feeling threatened. Shame on these parents for allowing this to happen. Bless this poor child.

Yeah, my ignorance...

Yeah Deanna...that ignorance cost someone I know a lot of money in reconstructive surgery and a trip to the emergency room. This person was standing on a sidewalk talking to the owner from a distance of 15', when the dog charged.

There are bad breeds because those desired qualities were bred into the dog (in this case, fighting and jaw strength) for a specific purpose. Why do you think the dog is called a "pit bull?"

This particular dog was undergoing rehabilative therapy...and after biting someone I know, the owner took it to a trained, licensed person who was used to handling these dogs. It tried to bite her. It went night night after that.

Everyday there are similar headlines. That breed doesn't get a pass because of a few fans who have tightly controlled their animal.

Yes… your ignorance

Pit bulls were bred originally to fight dogs. NOT humans. In fact they were very VERY specifically bred to be human friendly to a fault. Otherwise they couldn't be handled when in a fight, and they needed to be handled. There are many forms of aggression, and one does NOT mean they automatically have others. I have a lab who is very prey driven, yet fine with people and dogs. Well… all humans except strange men in our house. I have an American Bulldog who is frequently confused to be a pit bull and who gets along with everyone and everything. He loves dogs, and especially loves children.

All sporting dogs have some degree of aggression, depending on what they were bred for. The reality is that pit bulls, and many common dogs really, are being bred badly and some are born "wired" wrong. This is true of ANY type of dog. Heck, I know of a family that was terrified of a beagle they had adopted and had to make the hard decision to put it down. You shouldn't judge an entire class of dogs based solely on a relatively few incidents. Nor should they be judged on appearances alone. lot of dogs referred to as put bulls aren't even pit bulls in the first place. Pit bulls and similar dogs are probably the single most common type of dog. If they are so inherently vicious, then WHY aren't there FAR more injuries and fatalities than there are now?

You should read up on Lilly, the pit bull that recently suffered a severe injury while dragging her unconscious owner out of the path of a freight train. THAT dog exhibited the intelligence and human devotion that pit bulls were bred for and valued for. Note that she saved her owner, and never bit her, the woman's son, the rescuers, the vet or their staff… no one.

Yes, Still showing ignorance

You know of ONE dog and ONE person. There are more bites every year from cocker spaniels than ANY OTHER BREED (according to my vet). There are only bad owners, never bad breeds. Any dog could have reacted the same way given the same circumstances. Bad training, bad treatment, etc. Don't blame the breed for the owners stupidity. There is bad in every breed of animal and every race or gender of humans.

Dogs are a product of humans

You are so correct. Humans are the ones to blame. Dogs or any animal that we have as pets are only going to do has they have learned. This dog was with an elder person, why on earth would a family allow it to be along with a child is beyond me. Humans are more to blame for bad dogs (or cats or whatever) than the animals are. You have to train an animal just like you do a child. You don't train your child and don't train your animal you are asking for trouble.


I completely agree with you, Dog Whisperer. Pit bulls require their own shrinks to keep them anywhere close to gentle family pets. With so many wonderful, gentle-by-nature animals needing homes, why insist on rehabilitating natural-born killers?

a boxer bit a child that is

a boxer bit a child that is very unusual. Hope that the child is ok and that the dog is further evaluated before they just decide to kill it !!!!

Not many facts here. WHY

Not many facts here. WHY did the dog bite the child? Was the dog aggressive or defending himself? How old was the child? Was the child tormenting the dog? Were the parent(s) present? Inquiring minds want to know!