10-year-old hospitalized after pit bull attack

Driveway where attack occurred (Source: Tim Pulliam)
Driveway where attack occurred (Source: Tim Pulliam)

By Tim Pulliam - email

LEESVILLE, SC (WIS) - A 10-year-old girl is in the hospital after a pit bull attacked her near her home.

It happened around 11:00 a.m. Thursday in the 100 block of Bethlehem Circle, near Leesville. The victim's uncle now feels guilty. "Blaming myself," expressed Michael, "I could've been there. If I wasn't in the shower when they first came by and didn't think I was."

Michael wished he had heard his niece and nephew knock on the door. They were returning home from visiting their neighbor, Jennifer Barnes. Michael said the victim and her brother walked back to Barnes' house, but deputies said Barnes was already gone. Investigators indicated she left three pit bulls loose in her yard, one of which attacked the little girl.

Michael stated the victim's brother ran home to get him for help. "I came around their pool," Michael went on, "She's just laying on the ground, and I could see her arms being ripped apart. I lost it. I charged the biggest pit I saw first pulling on her arm. They backed away a little bit. I tackled it and threw it as hard as I could when it came at me. I hit it with a 2 x 4 with nails upside the head. When I turned around for the other dog and it tried to move away, I noticed it's chain was wrapped around her neck. It was choking her, and I was trying to figure out how to get the dog off of her."

The incident report from the sheriff's department doesn't mention Michael's attempt to save his niece. It indicated when officers arrived they found one of the dogs biting and shaking the 10-year-old violently. When deputies commanded the dog to let the girl go, it would not move. According to Sheriff James Metts, when the pit bull didn't let go, deputies shot and killed the dog.

The girl was taken by helicopter to Palmetto Health Richland Hospital, where she is listed in stable condition after receiving surgery. Metts said the girl received serious injuries to both of her arms, but they were not life-threatening.

According to Metts, the pit bull belonged to 27-year-old Barnes.  Barnes was not at her home at 179 Bethlehem Circle when one of her pit bulls attacked the 10-year-old girl. Barnes was not aware that the girl was outside her home when the attack occurred. Barnes' three pit bull dogs all were loose outside the front of her home at the time of the attack, according to Metts.

Deputies issued Barnes three citations for violating a Lexington County ordinance that requires dogs and cats to be restrained and confined while outside a residence, Metts said. Deputies do not plan to file any additional charges against Barnes because the 10-year-old girl who was attacked was not in Barnes' care and custody at the time of the attack, and Barnes had no reason to believe that the girl would be attacked by Barnes' dogs.

Deputies and Lexington County Animal Services officers later found and took custody of the two remaining pit bulls that Barnes owned, Metts said. The two pit bulls ran away after deputies arrived on scene at the Bethlehem Circle home. They said they don't believe either of those dogs were involved in the attack, but they were with the dog that was killed at that time.

The Sheriff's Department and county Animals Services had received no prior complaints about Barnes' three pit bulls attacking any persons or acting aggressively towards any persons, Metts said.

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