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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.

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

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Guest Star
2015 years 11 months ago

Here’s some really GREAT tips for kids in how they should and shouldn’t interact with dogs. The way the veterinarian who made these illustrates them and compares the actions to how we interact with people, it just makes sense.


2015 years 11 months ago

Pray for a recovery for the child and the dog. Pray for the parents that the ignorance they suffer will be replaced by education

2015 years 11 months ago

Please, PLEASE have respect for this family going through this traumatic time. Please read the WHOLE story, take in the facts, and THINK before you comment. Or, preferably, don’t comment at all. Thanks.

2015 years 11 months ago

“”The “parents” that you people are all slamming right now are college grad, well educated, church going, extremely nice and smart people.””

It doesn’t matter that the people were any of the things quoted from the previous writer. They obviously lacked one thing that many do these days: COMMON SENSE!

You bring a dog home from a totally different environment, to total strangers, different smells etc etc and expect the dog to be calm, cool, and OK? Really? The dog was nervous and scared, he didn’t know what had happened, why had he been taken from his prior home? He… Read more »

Message from mother left on voicemail
2015 years 11 months ago

The mother called several rescue groups for help rehoming this dog. She stated that the owner was an elderly woman that was in the ICU in Raleigh. How these folks found out about this dog is ?? unless they were friends with family member. Guessing this dog had never been in a position to interact with children. Mother stated that she got the dog last eve, Wed and dog was growling at children. Took dog to vet on Thursday am for vaccinations and the vet advised rehoming the dog. Why the family ever brought… Read more »

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