Trigger warning: graphic images of the aftermath of a dog attack.
Little Lainey is in for a long recovery after being viciously attacked by a neighbour’s dog. The little girl, 4, was at home with her mum, Bethany Hastings, and brother, Wesley, 2, when they noticed their neighbour, an elderly woman, had wandered into their property.
The neighbour was quite confused and suffers from dementia so Bethany decided to help to take her back to her home safely. She piled her two kids and the neighbour into a golf cart and drove down the road to the elderly woman’s house.
Dog attack horror
When they got to the neighbour’s home, her pitbull was loose. As soon as the dog saw the golf cart, he lunged at it immediately and began to attack Bethany, Wesley and Lainey.
The dog first went for Wesley and then Lainey. Wesley suffered minimal injuries but Lainey wasn’t quite so lucky. Bethany was able to jump on the dog and restrain the pitbull physically for 15 minutes while attempting to keep her children away.
While the dog tried to escape her grasp, Bethany tried to keep her children calm, especially Lainey who was bleeding from the face.
Meanwhile, another neighbour came to the rescue and bundled the children into his car to keep them safe.
Five minutes later EMS services arrived and rushed the family to the ER for treatment. The pitbull has since been euthanised and there haven’t been any updates on the elderly neighbour who owned the dog.
So much damage
The family, who live in America, are still coming to terms with the horrific dog attack and have shared their story through various American news outlets.
While Bethany and Wesley were released from the hospital with minor injuries, Lainey’s injuries were much more serious. The little girl spent four days in the hospital, two of which were in ICU.
As Bethany explains,
They [the doctors] hadn’t quite seen anything like that before to that extent, with that much damage.
She’s in karate and tee-ball, so I thought she’d wind up at the hospital maybe for a broken bone or something crazy like that, but never this; never.”
She also recounts how terrifying it was keeping the dog under her for 15 minutes, but knew she didn’t have a choice.
If I had let go, he would have gotten me or them again.”
Lainey is now back at home with her family but Bethany admits the whole family is a little nervous about being outdoors. Lainey will also need multiple surgeries in the future to attempt to repair the skin loss and damage done from the attack.
After that, you realize just how vulnerable you are to everything.”
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with costs from the incident as well as to assist with the medical treatment that Lainey will need in the future as she has a long road to recovery.
Be dog aware
We don’t share these stories to scare but to help families be aware that things like this can happen. Dogs are wonderful pets and companions but parents still need to be aware of the risk of injury from dog bites and dog attacks.
We often hear stories about rogue dogs who do attack and, as hard as they are to read, we need to remember that these things do happen.
The Royal Children’s Hospital has produced a resource kit to help promote dog bite prevention. This is what they recommend:
- Supervision. Always: A baby or young child should never, ever be left alone with a dog. If constant supervision isn’t possible, the best idea is to separate dog and child into different areas of the house/yard to minimise risk.
- The ‘gentle’ rule: Teaching kids to be gentle from a young age helps them to establish the right kind of contact with their puppy pal.
- Establish no-go zone: When a dog is eating or sleeping, it’s likely that it won’t want to be disturbed. Teach children from a young age to leave the family pet alone at these times.
- Understand dog body language: A dog should be avoided and left alone if it growls, backs away, lifts its lips, stares at you or raises the hair on its back.
- Permission: Whether the dog is well known to your child or not, always get permission from both you and the dog owner first.
How to handle an unknown dog
If approached, even by a dog that seems friendly, children should stand still like a statue with their arms by their sides and hands in a fist or hands tucked into their armpits, avoid making eye contact and importantly, not scream or panic.
Most dogs will lose interest very quickly. If the dog remains interested or knocks your child over, teach children to curl into a ball, stay quiet and wait it out. Dogs are more likely to be attracted to loud noise and lots of movement so doing the opposite often causes them to get bored and run away.
The most important things to remember are supervision, prevention and respect for our canine pals.