Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ohio: Seven-year-old girl recovering from German Shepherd attack

OHIO -- A normal day at a football game turned into a scary one for a local family.

The parents of 7-year-old Carter Lawhorn, a student at Miami-Trace, said their daughter was attacked by a German Shepherd this weekend and had to be rushed to a Columbus hospital.

Zach Lawhorn, Carter's father who lives in Chillicothe, said the incident happened around 2 p.m. Sunday at Carter's 9-year-old brother's football game. From their familiar spot in the home-side bleachers, Lawhorn allowed Carter to go play with her friends, as she usually does during the games.

"It wasn't two minutes later and I heard people screaming and yelling," Lawhorn said. "I just had a feeling something happened to Carter."

Zach Lawhorn said his seven-year-old daughter Carter is lucky to be alive after being attacked by a German shepherd Sunday.

He said it started when his daughter saw the dog with its owner at her brother's football game at Miami Trace High School in Washington Court House.

German Shepherds are beautiful dogs and children are naturally attracted to animals.

One of Carter's friends politely asked the owner if she could pet the dog and the owner said yes. Carter then went to pet the dog as well. Moments later, loved ones say the dog had the girl pinned to the ground as it attacked her (and the owner could not control the dog).

Tabetha Hatfield, Carter's mother, had just walked into the gate when she heard the screams.

"I walked in about five feet and heard this scream from a little girl and had a sick feeling," Hatfield said, but the worst feeling was yet to come.

Carter's face was covered in blood, and pictures of her at the hospital posted on social media showed cuts near her eye, nose and mouth. Lawhorn had bloodstains on his shirt from carrying his daughter away.

They said the girl suffered massive facial injuries, including a broken nose, along with cuts and bruises.

Driving behind the ambulance was "pretty nerve-wracking," Lawhorn said. "At that point, we didn't really know how bad it was."

In the midst of the trip to the hospital, Carter was most concerned about her friend, who her parents said was standing near her when the dog attacked.

Carter said she was glad it happened to her, rather than her friend, Lawhorn said.

Carter was taken to Fayette County Memorial Hospital, then on to Children's Hospital in Columbus where Hatfield and Lawhorn heard from several doctors. Most were "uncomfortable" performing the surgery on Carter, due to the injury being so close to her eye, and a specialist was called in, according to her parents. For Hatfield, that was the worst feeling.

"It was very traumatizing," Hatfield said.

After emergency surgery and stitches to close the wounds, Carter is recovering from the bite and a fractured nose.

Lawhorn said Carter got out of the hospital Monday night but won't be back in class for a few more days. She will have a follow-up appointment with her doctor next week and is doing "a lot better," Hatfield said.

But the outpouring of support from the community has astounded Lawhorn. Even students in her class sent letters home from school, Hatfield said.

"I didn't expect it at all, it's been pretty crazy. I didn't think it would be anything like this," Lawhorn said.

(Chillicothe Gazette - Oct 19, 2016)

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