April 23, 2013

Maine girl still hospitalized after dog attack

The 3-year-old girl injured by the Rottweiler is expected to remain in a Boston hospital for at least another month.

By CRAIG CROSBY Kennebec Journal

A child who was badly injured in a dog attack at her home in Farmingdale last week remains hospitalized in Boston.

James Baum, who owned the Rottweiler and shares a Farmingdale home with the child's mother and grandmother, said Monday that the 3-year-old girl is being treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston and is expected to remain there for at least a month.

Baum said the "outlook is good" but the long-term effects of the attack are still unknown.

Baum, 52, shares the home at 67 Littlefield Lane with his girlfriend, Pam Lapointe, 51, who is the young girl's grandmother. The girl's mother, Sarah Thompson, 22, also lives in the home.

The family began renting the house just a few weeks ago, Baum said. He had owned the 5-year-old male Rottweiler, Dozer, since it was a puppy, but the dog was moved to the house only a few days before last Thursday's attack.

Baum said the dog -- which was shot and killed by police after it mauled the child -- had never attacked anyone.

"I would never have thought that that would happen," Baum said. "I'm dumbfounded."

Animal Control Officer James Grant said Monday that the dog tested negative for rabies, and no charges had been filed in connection with the attack.

Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty said the 120-pound dog was tied by a metal cable to a nearby barn. Around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the toddler approached the dog, which broke the choke collar and attacked the girl, ripping off a large piece of her scalp.

"They went up there to bring him a biscuit," Baum said of the child and Lapointe.

Lapointe, who was at home alone watching the girl, eventually jumped on her. Liberty said that likely saved the girl's life because the dog continued to go after the child.

Baum said Lapointe suffered a small bite on her arm but was otherwise unharmed.

Police shot and killed the dog after it continued to act aggressively and prevented paramedics from treating the girl, whom police and the family have not identified by name.

The girl was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland and later flown by helicopter to the Shriners hospital in Boston, which specializes in treating children with burn injuries and doing skin grafts. Baum said the girl is on a ventilator and medication to help keep her calm.

Baum said the attack on the girl has devastated him and the family. He has not seen her since the night before the attack. "She's full of energy," Baum said. "She's full of life. She makes me laugh every day."

The girl has health insurance, Baum said, but there has been a financial strain on family members who are keeping a vigil at the hospital. Thompson, Lapointe, the girl's biological father and other grandparents are taking turns staying with the youngster.

Baum said he is preparing donation cans to put in local businesses to help cover travel expenses for the family.

"It's kind of hard," he said. "Everybody's doing what they can."

 

Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

ccrosby@centralmaine.com

 

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