Friday, July 1, 2011

Judge awards $700,000 in dog attack on Douglasville child

By Christopher Seward, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Douglas County judge has ordered the owner of a pit bull named Rambo to pay $700,000 in damages two years after the dog attacked a neighbor’s child, leaving him disfigured and with emotional problems.
Dakota Holt was attacked in July 2009 after he played with a friend at the Douglasville home of Chaye Hawkins on Longfield Drive.
Rambo charged Dakota, biting him on the face and knocking him down to the ground, “causing multiple catastrophic injuries,” according to the complaint filed in the case.
Hawkins had been cited at least 10 times over a four-month period for violating the county’s leash law before Rambo attacked Dakota, who was 8 at the time. A month before the attack in the Riley Farms community, the dog mauled another neighbor  in her driveway.
Efforts to reach Hawkins about the Thursday’s judgment were not successful.
Today, Dakota, now 10, faces more possible surgeries, is fearful of dogs and is the target of constant teasing at school, his father, Dale Holt, told the AJC on Friday.
Holt said Dakota’s medical problems include a drooping eye from reconstructive surgery that was needed and scarring.
“He might end up having to undergo more surgery in the future to get rid of some of the scar tissue,” Holt said.
Emotionally, “if he even remotely sees a stray dog somewhere he doesn’t even take a chance anymore. He’s very, very cautious,” the father said. “I just wish he had that trait before this occurred.”
Dakota also has a “big problem” at Beulah Elementary School, Holt said. He’s the target of repeated teasing because of his facial scars, the father said.
“He gets very angry now. He gets in trouble a little bit. The boys pick on him a lot and can really push his buttons.”
As for Hawkins, Dale Holt said Rambo’s owner moved away sometime after the incident and has not appeared for court hearings.
She “hasn’t shared one bit of concern from the day of the incident until now,” Holt said. “She hasn’t found out how he was doing even from the first day.”
Despite the $700,000 judgment, neither Holt nor the family’s attorneys on the case believe they will receive any of the damages. The defendant was a renter and was not required to have renter’s insurance, which would have paid much of the damages, attorney Evan Kaine said.
Kaine said state Judge W. O’Neal Dettmering Jr., awarded more than what the Holts initially sought, which was around $634,000. He awarded the maximum amount allowed for punitive damages $250,000.
Pit bull attacks have prompted some local jurisdictions, including Douglasville, to consider restrictions on the animals.
The Douglasville City Council voted down a proposed crackdown last year. The ordinance gained momentum after a Douglasville woman was bitten and seriously injured by three loose pit bulls while she took a walk.
Under the proposed ordinance, pit bull owners would have been required to register and confine the dogs or face a fine of up to $500.
Kaine, the attorney in the Douglasville case, is currently working on four cases involving pit bull attacks. In one recent case, a dog ran a Fayetteville woman into her home and attacked her after she couldn’t close the door quickly enough.
Dog owners and humane societies have fought efforts to single out a single breed because of a few attacks.
Kaine said the firm is trying to put together a fundraiser to help Dakota’s family cover the $25,000 in medical bills it will face.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments and questions.
Be advised that comments are moderated. Not for views, but for content.
Profanity, personal attacks, and spam within comments will result in your comment being rejected.
I, personally, love Pit Bulls as well as all dogs and most animals.
If your comment differs from my feelings or opinions, I will post it anyway, providing it does not include any of the three exceptions listed above.
Same goes for comments that are in harmony with my opinions.
Thank you for participating.