Pit bull attacks girl in Jellico

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By Charlotte Underwood

An evening at Grandma’s house turned into tragedy for a young girl who was injured in a dog attack late Saturday evening.

Cheyenne R. Baird, of Pioneer, was severely injured by a pit bull while visiting at her grandparent’s home on Douglas Lane, according to a Jellico Police Department Incident report.

The girl’s grandmother, Wanda Bruce, went to take the dog some water when Baird began playing with the dog and it licked her in the face, the report said.

Bruce was standing on the chain, just giving the dog a few feet of chain, when Baird allegedly slipped in dog feces.  Bruce turned to get a shovel and when she turned around, Baird had climbed up on the doghouse and yelled at the dog, the Jellico Police report said.

The dog then jumped on the house, but slid back off.  Baird then fell off; the dog went around the house, grabbing her left leg in its mouth, the report said.

Bruce grabbed Baird around her upper body and tried to pull her from the dog; she also began screaming for help.  Her husband, Charles Bruce then came out of the house to help.

Together they were able to extract their granddaughter’s leg from the mouth of the pit bull.  The dog then grabbed the girl’s left hip in its mouth, according to the report.

The Bruces continued to scream for help because the dog would not let go.  Scotty and Carla Davis came through the yard to help, with Scotty Davis calling 911.  

Wanda Bruce told Scotty Davis to kill the dog, the report said.  

He shot once in the air, but the dog continued to hold on. Davis then killed the dog, shooting it once in the back with a Beretta 9mm pistol, the report said.

Baird was then transported to Jellico Community Hospital with severe injuries, according to Jellico Police Chief Chris Anderson.

Remains of the dog have been sent to the University of Tennessee to be tested for rabies, according to the Director of the Campbell County Animal Shelter Betty Crumley.

The pit-bull was fairly large, weighing at least 100 pounds, Crumley said.  The family was not familiar with the dog as it had only been at the residence for around a month, according to Crumley.  Bruce’s son allegedly brought the dog to the home the previous month, Crumley said.

“Its just such a trauma for the girl, she’ll probably be scared of dogs for the rest of her life now,” Crumley said.

The animal shelter receives at least two calls a day pertaining to complaints about pit bulls, according to Crumley.

“People let them out to roam around or they get out and that’s when people get scared and call us to come pick them up,” she said.

Crumley said she felt pit bulls were aggressive dogs with the potential to harm.

Dr. Mark Garrett of the Campbell County Animal Hospital agreed that pit bulls do have the potential to harm, but so do many other dogs.

“If you are plucking the ears of your poodle, it may snap at you; if you are clipping your Chihuahua’s nails, you might get nipped,” Garrett said.

He explained the difference was in the size and damage potential of a dog, as well as the difference in a bite or an all out attack.

“When they do attack, pits are in the top two or three dogs that can cause damage,” Garrett said.

This is mainly because pit bulls have extraordinary crushing power in their jaws.  They can exert over 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, according to Garrett.  He said that the name pit bull spoke of the origin of the dog’s breed.  

“It goes back to what they were bred for and that’s fighting in pits,” Garrett said.

He was also quick to not lay all the blame on the breed.

“It’s partially the breed and partially the owner, there are some people out there who want to make them mean and aggressive and those people should not have them,” Garrett said.

Garrett’s professional opinion on the issue was that any dog can bite and any dog can attack and for many different reasons.

“We don’t understand what’s going on in their heads,” Garrett said.

He offers some advice when faced with an attack.

“Stand still, look towards them, but not directly in their eyes,” he explained that this was a sign of aggression to the animal.

Do not turn your back to the animal and do not run away because when you run, that is telling the animal that you are prey to be chased.  Yell out no or stop in a very deep voice and if the dog does stop, then back away slowly until you reach safety, he said.

If you are actually bitten or attacked, the advice is a little different,  Garrett said.

“You cover your face and ears with your hands and arms and you try not to move or scream because that will often incite the dog,” Garrett said.  He explained that often it was a dominance issue and if you lay there still and quiet, the dog will usually leave you alone.  He does acknowledge that when attacked and adrenaline is pumping it can be hard not to follow instincts and just run.  Garrett warned against this, especially for children.

“Anything small, running and screaming or squealing can trigger the hunting instinct in many dogs,” Garrett said.

No charges or citations were issued in the Saturday incident. Attempts were made to contact the Baird family, but calls were not returned at press time.

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