Dog Attack Proves Costly for Tennessee Child’s Family

May 5, 2010

The family of an 8-year-old girl who was attacked by a pit bull on her birthday is now wondering how to pay for a large hospital bill.

Eileen King has nothing but praise for the treatment her daughter Hailey received at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center after the April 8 mauling in north Shelby County.

King told The Commercial Appeal her children are covered by her ex-husband’s health insurance, but she’s concerned she still might have to pay some of the $47,870 hospital bill.

“I don’t know what I can do,” said King, 42, a former gas station manager who is unemployed.

The woman who owned the dog that attacked Hailey was a renter and has no homeowners insurance that could cover the costs. King tried to contact lawyers, but they weren’t making any promises that they could recover damages from the dog owner.

(According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites account for one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims.)

An account for donations to Hailey’s medical costs has been established at Regions Bank.

Hailey and her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, and a friend were walking in north Shelby County near Raleigh. She wanted to invite another friend to her birthday party.

A one-year-old pit bull named Spike was chained to a tree in the yard of a home, but broke its collar and attacked her, according to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. The dog dragged her down the sidewalk before a neighbor fended the dog off with a rake.

The dog’s owner, Latoya Redwing, 32, gave up the dog to county animal control authorities and it was euthanized April 19, she said.

In an appearance in Environmental Court, Redwing received a $50 fine for violating a county ordinance.

Redwing said the dog was a gift after her Chihuahua died and that it was not vicious but had been provoked by children throwing bricks. She wasn’t home during the attack, and didn’t say that Hailey was one of those children.

“Personally, I love animals and I think that my dog, just because he was a pit bull, got a bad reputation before anybody even knew the situation and what happened,” Redwing said. “He was already condemned.”

Redwing said she took flowers, a teddy bear and balloons to the Kings’ home to apologize and offered assistance while Hailey was still in the hospital, but her mother told the woman to leave.

King said she doesn’t believe that the dog was provoked and said she didn’t want to hear Redwing offer any excuses.

Hailey is recovering well and is getting her school lessons at home. But it remains to be seen how well her right arm will bounce back. The dog bit down on her shoulder all the way to the bone and the injury required reconstruction of her rotator cuff, King said.

The attack was so severe “it was difficult to see all of the dog bites because of the blood,” according to report by the deputies who responded that day.

But Hailey, who wants to be a veterinarian, said the attack hasn’t shaken her affection for dogs, although she is “still scare of pit bulls.”

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