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Bulldog Attacks 5-year-old at PetSmart

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ABC 7: Amy Sampson walked into a pet store with her daughters Audra and Lauren, to get a collar for their dog, but were instead attacked by someone else's.

Lauren Sampson, who just turned 5, is still recovering from lacerations and deep puncture wounds on her backside and pelvic area.

"They're itchy," Lauren said.

When asked about the attack, which happened Oct. 28, Lauren scrunched her face, shook her head, then buried her face against her mother.

"She doesn't like to talk about it," Amy Sampson said.

The attack happened at a PetSmart in Denver, a store that allows customers to bring their pets inside.

"He lunged out and latched onto Lauren," said Amy Sampson, the victim's mom. "At first I was just in shock. I couldn't believe what was happening, then when I finally realized and gathered myself, I grabbed onto her and started pulling her."

"We have different accounts of exactly what happened," said Doug Kelley, director of Denver Animal Control. "The victim's mother said the dog bit without provocation. A witness said the victim startled the dog."

Kelley said the American bulldog, named Nemo, was on a leash inside the store.

Because it was Nemo's first recorded attack in Denver, he was put in quarantine for 10 days and will then be released.

The victim's mom said the dog should have been put to sleep.

"When I found out the dog hadn't been euthanized, I was appalled," Sampson said. "This dog didn't bite, it attacked and held on."

"If the dog bites again, the court makes a decision on the ultimate disposition of the dog, whether it's ordered muzzled in public, kept in a six-sided pen or destroyed."

The dog's owner, Amy Powell, was cited for the attack and is due in court next month. She declined comment.

Kelley, who has worked with animals for years, said it's wonderful that some stores allow pets inside. But he added that people need to realize the animals don't know everyone in the store.

He said extra precaution needs to be taken with kids.

"Every once in awhile, when I'm in a store like this, I'll see a child run up to someone else's dog. That gives me a little bit of a fright because you don't know how a dog is going to react to that kind of stimulation," he said.

Sampson said she intends to talk to store officials about their policy and will suggest that they have a plan in place to react in case something like this happens again.

Kelley said attacks in pet stores are rare.

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33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Zhenya November 10, 2008, 10:34 PM

I don’t have all the details so I won’t comment on this case, but I have seen way too many parents NOT TEACHING their children how to approach a dog. I am a dog owner and have had many STUPID parents allow their small kids to pet my dog while I am walking and refuse to follow my lead for them not to pet the dog until I make him “sit”.Parents have told me not to tell them how to dicipline their kid.They would be the first ones to try to sue me.
Kids run up to a dog, reach out quickly, sometimes startling the dog. There is no reason why someone can’t bring their dog out in public. Both dog owner AND PARENT of children must take extra precautions and also take advantage of EVERY situation to teach and remind a child how to approach a dog. Even adults don’t know how to approach dogs and they do the same thing, reach out quickly and the dog being smaller can react in fear or protection of the owner. That photographer that got bit by President Bush’s dog deserved it. Bush had the dog on a leash and warned him but he reached out anyway. Scotties are very protective and that dog was “doing his inherit job”. Dogs react differently depending upon their breed, their puppy life experiences and just life in general. There is no perfect dog like there is no perfect human. The kid got bit…get over it and stay out of the courts as the dog was on a leash and they were in a known area for dogs. Do you think that photographer will sue W Bush?!
It is time for everyone to start taking a little more responsibility for their own actions and quit blaming others for their demise.

Zhenya November 10, 2008, 10:36 PM

oops! My apology, I said I wouldn’t comment about that case and I went back on my word commenting in the end… I guess I might make a good politician?

Jan November 10, 2008, 11:21 PM

The dog owner and the mother both fell down on the job. They both had full responsibility for their charges and they both failed miserably. I know the mother must be feeling just terrible about her child being hurt, but she was responsible for her child. She knew there were dogs in that store and it was her duty to take care of her child.

If you are in a pet store that allows dogs, there will be dogs. If you are in a parking lot, there will be cars, etc. People need to be aware of their surroundings and act accordingly.

Likewise, the pet owner took her dog into the store and she was in charge of her dog and keeping it under control.

The child certainly wasn’t at fault. And I can’t believe that “out of the blue” this dog became viciously agressive; but then I only know my dogs and even though I don’t think they’d ever bite, I’d certainly never give them the chance to find out. I keep them right by my side on a short leash.
The whole situation was tragic for the child, the parent, and the dog owner who will have to go to court and incure fines and court costs and will probably be sued by the parent for medical costs and punitive damages. And then she’ll probably sue the store while she’s at it. Maybe we should all muzzle our dogs when we go to Petsmart just to play it safe.

Lin November 10, 2008, 11:40 PM

Well, I disagree vehemently with that mother. The dog should not have attacked, but I do not believe it attacked for no reason. Kids can be real brats when no one is looking. I know. Two 5-year olds attacked my chow with metal bats a few years ago. The neighbors saw what was going on. These two brats had a rep in the neighborhood for meanness. My chow stood there and took it and did not bite the kids, but if he had, in defense, he would have been taken and destroyed. I couldn’t even touch him for a few days without him screaming out in pain. He still likes children which is amazing. Anyway, I would like to know what really happened in that store. I don’t think that 5 year old was blameless…sorry, but just because she is 5, as I proved above by what happened to my dog, doesn’t mean a thing.

robert lapworth November 11, 2008, 2:13 AM

dogs arent consumers… why take them to the store? i agree with jan

Rachel November 11, 2008, 8:24 AM

I’m not a current dog owner, but I do have children and have owned dogs in the past. You’ll be heartened to know that I’ve taught my kids from day one that they should never run up, pet, etc a dog they don’t know and how to approach dogs they DO know. They also think that if they disobey this simple rule and get hurt, it’s their fault and I won’t be the one taking them to the ER for stitches. To clarify, of course I WOULD take them for med attention, they just don’t know that and it’s an effective threat! However, I have to disagree with Lin. My son was sitting at the table of a friend’s, eating his lunch. The friend’s dog jumped up and tried to take my son’s sandwich right from his hand. My son reacted by moving his sandwich out of the dog’s reach and exclaiming “Sammy, no!”. Sammy, in turn, went for my son’s face (NOT near the sandwich). It happened in a matter of seconds and I witnessed the entire thing. I’d hardly call that “provocation”! So to be so certain that this 5 y/o did something to warrant being bit because of the experience you had with your dog shows blatant bias. We’ve both had very different experiences that prove either the witness’s or the mother’s story could be the truth.

Nadia November 11, 2008, 8:50 AM

Momlogic needs to change the picture in the article. The picture currently shown is an ENGLISH Bulldog which is completely different in temperment from the AMERICAN Bulldog that bit the child in the article.
We have 3 dogs (including an English Bulldog) and we never take our pets to Petsmart. I think Petsmart is wrong for allowing people to bring their pets in there. I think it is asking for problems. I have taught my two children not to approach any strange dog. More often than not, the owners fail to properly socialize and train their dogs that they bring in there.

CJ November 11, 2008, 10:29 AM

Yes, please change the picture to appropriately reflect the breed in the story. Posting the wrong picture creates a negative and inaccurate image against the wrong breed.

Sonja November 11, 2008, 11:18 AM

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I was biten in the face by a german shepard. Guess whos fault it was? My parents, not the dog. The dog belonged to a friend of my dads. We went to his house, and the dog was tied up in the yard. I went over to the dog and bent down quickly to his face to give him a kiss… No one had told me not to jump in a dogs face because it scares them, and they instinctively protect themselves. Pet owners that know their animals aren’t people or other animal friendly should reconsider taking them to places like Petsmart, and public dog parks etc, for the most part, the animals don’t bite to be mean. They bite out of fear, or to protect themselves or their owners.

Frank  November 11, 2008, 12:16 PM

Dogs shoould not be allowed in the stores. At our local Petsmart their is a seperate entrance for dogs who are being groomed in the grooming center. That however did NOT prevent an inexperienced groomer from properly leashing my dog when I went to pick her up. She was not properly leashed and ran through another door that had access to the main store. She ran out the front door in fear through a heavily trafficked parking lot heading straight for a major street at the height of 5:00 PM traffic. It was only because of heavy traffic that she was not killed. She did however suffer a minor injury. Needless-to-say we refused to pay our grooming bill, and the store did pay for my vet bill. Please note that stores that cater to animals must hire people who know what they are doing. Proper training is everything. Access is important, and animals should NEVER be allowed in the main store with the exception of the ones being sold.

Teesha November 11, 2008, 1:40 PM

I take my small dogs into Petsmart and into public all the time! They love to pick out new toys and make new friends. I have spent a lot of time properly socializing them since they were very young and I think that has made all the difference. People need to be aware of their surroundings, teach their children how to interact with other animals, and be careful in situations where animals and children meet. There is no need to ban animals from public areas if everyone takes seriously the responsibility for their actions and those of their children and pets.

rhonda November 11, 2008, 9:05 PM

I have always taught my children to ask the owner of ANY dog before they approach it or pet it, no matter what the size or the breed of itis. I am a dog owner also.

Anne November 11, 2008, 9:26 PM

Both PetSmart and PetCo have Grooming facilities and one has Vet facilities and day care facilities and training facilities. It is necassary to walk your dog through the store to use these. DUUUUUUUUU! This is a PET store for pets. Don’t bring kids in a pet store and don’t bring pets in a baby care store. Simple common sense.

b crosby November 11, 2008, 9:55 PM

leave the dog alone, it was only defending itself from a spoiled little brat that was never taught not to pull on an ear, or cute curly tail, this child got bit because of her own moms stupidity, not the dog’s. all the mom had to do is turn her back for a few seconds and not see what the child did to the dog. now, she will probably get enough money to pay all her bills at petsmart,and the dog owners expence. I really hope she doesn’t sleep very well if she wins the lawsuit, because she knows it’s not right. rest in peace sue happy mom. teach you brat some manners.

Pattycakes November 11, 2008, 10:30 PM

I remember as a child a neighbor had a his family dog, a St. Bernard that he kept tied up in his yard. One day he was having a party and a little girl went up to the dog while it was eating and the dog bit her in the face. Of course everybody freaked out. The child was rushed to the hospital and had to have stitches. The neighbor was so upset with the dog that he took out his gun and shot the dog dead! I remember hearing the gun shot! My father went over to find out what was going on and that is how he found out what happened. It was not the dog’s fault, it was the fault of the owner AND the parents of the child. She should have been told not to bother the dog while it was eating and the parents should have been watching that she didn’t go over to the dog. Dogs are naturally protective of their food. Sure I feel bad that the girl was bitten but I feel even worse that the poor dog was killed because of human stupidity!!!

Dr_Moon November 12, 2008, 2:32 AM

The whole story is wrong as is the photo of the Bulldog. The photo is a Bulldog also known as an English Bulldog. The dog that attacked the little girl was an American Bull Dog, other wise known as a Pit Bull. Bulldogs like the one in the picture would never attack anyone. They are the most loving, gentle and greatest dogs in the World. Don’t write an article if you don’t know what you are talking about.

Deborah Sytnik November 12, 2008, 2:50 AM

I am on the dog’s side. I Love
children, but don’t blame the dog for being a dog. Parent’s should never
allow their children to walk up to
other people’s dogs, because anything could happen. Please dont punish the dog. If anything good comes out of this it’s this child will learn from the experience of not doing this again.

Abby November 12, 2008, 7:13 AM

I hope Dr. moon is not implying that since the pictured dog would never attack anyone, the actual dog in the article would because it is better known as a pit bull. Just because ignorant people train pit bulls to me mean, does not not make every animal in that breed mean. I have my own pit bull rescue and i am working with her to overcome her past neglect and be the best little dog. BUT i do not appreciate ANYONE, child or adult to approach either one of my dogs without asking to do so first, just as I would not approach an unknown dog without asking the owner first. It is common courtesy. You wouldn’t approach someones child to touch them, please don’t appraoch an animal without asking first.

mt November 12, 2008, 11:20 AM

an american bull dog is different than a pitt bull dog. american bull dogs are usually very gentle and good with people.

judy November 12, 2008, 11:56 AM

I’ve been in petsmart with my AB when she was a pup, She was mauled by a larger dog that ran with a child being dragged behind the leash.People constantly walk up to my dog and try to pet her without asking, children run up to her, and others allow thier dogs to approach, and never ASK, if its okay, or, if my dog is comfortable with it. I put a muzzle on my dog when I’m in public now, because, its the people that are careless, more than my dog being the problem.

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