On Christmas Eve, two dogs that seemed friendly mauled Tracy Dowdy's child. Since that viscous attack, this devoted mom is sharing their story in the hopes that other parents will learn from her family's tragedy as her son recovers from his full-body injuries.
In a blog post describing the harrowing ordeal, Tracy says that Ethan was simply playing in his grandma's yard before the incident. She explained that her 7-year-old grew up running through the grass, climbing from the old oak tree, and playing with the neighbor's dogs, but knowing these pit bulls wasn't enough to keep her child safe.
"I want to begin by saying I've always been a 'dog person.' It is not my intention to instill undue fear through the sharing of my family's story, as I'm very much aware of the joy pets can add to a home," Tracy wrote. "It is, however, my hope that our experience will inspire parents and dog owners to exercise great caution when kids and dogs mix — no matter how well you know the dog or how comfortable the child is around dogs."
On this night, Ethan was playing by hanging from his knees and swinging from a tree branch when the dogs he's known his entire life grabbed him by the jacket. "[They] dragged him over the fence, where they attacked him, biting his face, neck and body," Tracy wrote. "A mom knows that haunting sound; the kind of wail that clearly says 'this is not just a scrape,' and sends a chill up your spine."
By the time Tracy and her husband made it over to their child, they discovered that he was at the mercy of the dogs. "My husband says I didn't just climb the fence, I cleared it. My maternal instinct kicked in, and I had to get my boy back," she described. "Our sweet boy was bloodied, with one ear hanging off and the other gone. His body was covered in bite marks, and he was in and out of consciousness."
Ethan received more 300 stitches and surgeons were able to reattach his left ear. However, they had to sew his right ear into his belly with the hope that new tissue necessary for future reattachment will grow.
As her son continues to recover physically and mentally as he battles panic attacks, night terrors, and anxiety from this traumatic event, Tracy is asking that all parents learn from her child's experience. "I encourage you to read these tips, remember our story, and share this with the parents and dog owners in your life," she pleaded.
Here are some of Tracy's tips on preventing a dog attack:
- Parents should supervise all interactions between children and dogs.
- 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 approach 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.