By Andy Waterman, WSIL
Nine year old Caitlyn Lowery is a little girl that loves to ride her bike and be outdoors. But over Labor Day weekend, play-time turned violent.
"I thought the kids were playing and somebody scared her," said Jacqueline Lowery, Caitlyn's mother. "Then I heard her scream again, and I heard another child scream, and I told my husband there's something wrong."
Caitlyn says while she was on her bike, an eight month old pit bull started attacking her. She was bitten on her neck, and deep bite marks to her leg required twenty-five stitches. Her mother says the dogs owner, Brian Copperthite said he was sorry.
"He did kind of try to assist when the ambulance was here," Lowery said. "He brought a first aid kit down, but there wasn't anything anybody could do."
Four days later, Caitlyn is back at school and all things considered, is doing okay.
"My neck's kind of been hurting today, but then it got better, and then my leg has been fine," said Caitlyn.
Since the attack, she hasn't been the same around dogs.
"The Lowerys had a beagle that had puppies, and now she's afraid of dogs, so her mom and dad brought their dogs out here," said Franklin County Animal Control supervisor Jarrett Broy.
Broy says the attacking pit bull was euthanized on Wednesday. Copperthite requested the dog be put down directly after the attack.
"We weren't able to get in the pen with it, we had to get it on a catch pole to get it out to clean the pen and to feed and water it," Broy said. "That's not good, and why that dog turned that way I don't know."
Meanwhile, Caitlyn continues to recover, and should find out soon if she will need plastic surgery for her scars.
Update September 9, 2010 9:13am - The following article is by Diana Winson, Benton Evening News:
West City girl knocked down, bitten by pit bull
A Saturday evening bike ride turned into a frightening experience for a West City girl.
While bicycling with a younger friend in a yard at the Rend Lake Mobile Home Park, the 9-year-old was attacked by a pit bull owned by Brian Copperthite, 29, of West City.
The dog escaped from his trailer and ran toward the two girls, knocking the older girl from her bicycle to the ground and attacking her.
Copperthite managed to regain control of the dog and secured it into a cage, according to a report by the West City Police Department.
The girl was transported by Cardinal EMS ambulance to the Franklin Hospital emergency room, where she was treated for several lacerations and puncture wounds, the report said.
"They were not life-threatening injuries, but I'd say they were severe," West City Police Chief Scott Choisser said. "She was bitten on the leg — those wounds were the worst — and in the face area.
"We talked to her today, and she's doing much better," Choisser said Tuesday. "All she was doing was riding her bike."
Choisser said the girl had been riding with a 5-year-old friend, who was not harmed in the attack.
The dog was transported by Franklin County Animal Control to its facility in Benton and was euthanized, said supervisor Jarrett Broy — who also called the injuries "very, very severe."
"With pit bulls, the severity of bites is the problem. They become so aggressive," Broy said. "But you can't blame the dog for everything. The responsibility of the owner is the main thing.
"If you're going to own a dog like that, you've got to step up to the plate and be more responsible about it."
Copperthite was issued five citations by animal control, said Choisser, who added that investigation of the incident is ongoing. Information has been turned over to Franklin County State's Attorney Tom Dinn, and "further charges are possible," the chief said.
Choisser said the police department monitors dog bites in the village.
"We try to keep track of them, and we have very few incidents," he said. "A lot of them are not because of what breed of dog it is, but how it has been trained."
Update September 9, 2010 11:47am - The following article is from WJBD Radio:
Southern Illinois Man Accused of Child Endangerment Following Dog Attack
A southern Illinois man is accused of child endangerment after authorities say his pit bull attacked and injured a 9-year-old girl bicycling near his home.
Franklin County prosecutors charged 29-year-old Brian Copperthite of West City with three child endangerment counts. One relates to Saturday's dog attack, while the other two involve children in his home. Authorities tell KFVS-TV that Caitlyn Lowery was bicycling near in a West City trailer park when a pit bull escaped from Copperthite's home, knocked the girl from her bike and attacked before Copperthite regained control of the dog.
The girl received 25 stitches to close up four puncture wounds. The 8-month-old dog was euthanized with the owner's consent and was to be tested for rabies. Copperthite hasn't returned a call seeking comment.