Dog Bites Toddler

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Semmes, Alabama, a three-year-old toddler was bitten more than 50 times by her neighbor’s three dogs. While full details are not clear yet, it is known that all three dogs attacked the child so aggressively that they hauled her off the ground and left her in need of over 160 stitches. The dog bite victim, Madisyn Shelton cannot sit up, but her doctors say there is no sign of infection, and she seems to be on the road to recovery.

The attack has, understandably, outraged Madisyn's family and shocked the community. The family has acquired the services of an attorney to represent them in this matter. They are considering filing a civil suit against the dogs' owner, one James White.

The attack was so violent that city officials are pursuing a statewide act that has not yet been used. In short, the act allows people to request that violent dogs be declared dangerous, allowing the state to seize them to be euthanized. As for James White, a warrant has been issued for his arrest, and he has not yet turned himself in.

Cases such as this illustrate the difficulties inherent in pet ownership within a community. Some owners feel their pets should have the freedom to roam and exercise, which can clash with a level of community safety that parents of small children naturally desire. The case also brings up questions about the proper role of the state in property ownership as well as an owner’s liability for a pet’s actions. There is no evidence that White's dogs had any prior history of attacking anyone. Yet the fact remains that they severely harmed this little girl with no apparent provocation and remain potentially dangerous to neighbors or other children that live nearby.

Madisyn continues to recover at a children's hospital, and her family has established a charity fund for anyone who wishes to help with the costs of her recovery.


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