COVID-19 Update

One Mom's Plea: Dog Owners, We're Counting on You

By Ann Roland

It's a day I'll remember for the rest of my life. My husband, Mark, had taken our boys to a nearby children’s park to play. Andrew was 4 years old and our older son, William, was 7. They passed by a couple who had two golden retrievers on leashes, when all of a sudden one of the dogs lunged at Andrew. We later learned the dog that attacked Andrew had a history of being aggressive toward children.

The dog bit off part of our precious Andrew’s face. Skin was hanging from under his eye to his chin, and you could see through his mouth to the other side.

Mark picked up Andrew, laid him on a picnic table and asked a lady in the gathering crowd to call 911. The ambulance and firemen arrived shortly thereafter and wrapped Andrew’s head to hold his face together. He was taken to the Emergency Department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite and stayed in the hospital for four days.

I sang “You Are My Sunshine” through tears, adoration and heartache as he drifted off to sleep. We prayed with the surgeons and nurses just before he endured a three-hour surgery with two plastic surgeons. It was the most agonizing three hours of my life. And when I saw him in the recovery room, he was the most beautiful child I had ever seen.

"When I saw him in the recovery room, he was the most beautiful child I had ever seen."

Andrew has had to endure extensive surgeries followed by months of physical therapy. We were told he will need revision surgery as he continues to grow.

To all dog owners: please do not take a dog off of your property if there is any uncertainty about his or her behavior. A child should not have to pay the price for poor judgment.

If you are supervising children, please know approximately half of the dog bite victims each year are children between the age of 5 and 9, leashed dogs actually attack more frequently, and all breeds are capable of attacking.

I encourage you to read these tips, remember our story and share this with the parents and dog owners in your life.

Prevent a dog attack

  • Parents should supervise all interactions between children and dogs.
  • A child should not be left alone with a dog unless that child and the dog share a long-established relationship.
  • 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 go up to 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.