Two boys are recovering from injuries they suffered Tuesday in a pit bull attack in Alto.
According to officials, the dog was running loose and attacked one of the boys as they were walking on Harrison Trail in front of the property where the dog lived. The other boy was injured trying to fend off the attack. The boys managed to get away and ran to Herring Mill Road where they sought shelter at a home near where one of the boys lives.
The owner of the home called 911 shortly before noon. EMS, Sheriff’s deputies and Animal Control responded to the scene. The boys were taken to Habersham Medical Center for treatment.
Habersham County Animal Control (HCACC) says both boys suffered lacerations to their legs. One boy suffered a deep wound to his right shin. The other, a less severe injury to his left leg.
Both are under the age of 16. Their names are being withheld because they’re juveniles.
After the attack, Assistant Animal Control Director Wayne Higgins and Officer Todd Roper tracked the dog back to the owner’s house. “The owner pulled up and claimed the dog,” Higgins says. The owner is identified as Jannette Blanco. Higgins says she was compliant in assisting the officers in their investigation. The dog was not current on its rabies vaccinations. It was taken into custody and is now in quarantine.
“We do the 10 day observation period which, that animal, if it was carrying the rabies virus to the point where it could transmit it, would be deceased within those ten days,” says Animal Control Director Madi Hawkins.
HCACC officials are still trying to determine if anything happened that might have provoked the attack. They say the dog had no prior record of aggressive behavior.
The results of their investigation will help determine what happens to the dog. Hawkins says there are several options. The animal could go before a panel to declare it a ‘dangerous dog.’ It would then have to meet certain criteria to be able to go back home. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, it would be destroyed.
The other option would be to pursue a magistrate case where, as Hawkins explains, “we could do a vicious animal charge and do a disposal order for euthanasia.”
Hawkins says right now it’s too early in the investigation to make that determination. “It did occur yesterday and the main priority was to make sure that the children were tended to medically,” she says.
Higgins says Blanco could face possible charges.
Roper met with the victims and their families in the hospital following the attack. He says the boys were “shaken up” by the incident. Neither was admitted to the hospital. Both are expected to fully recover.
As for the message this incident sends to pet owners, Roper says, “They need to get their dogs vaccinated. Keep them up to date on their shots. Keep them under control. We have so many incidents that could have been prevented by [owners] just putting their pets on a leash, in a kennel or behind a fence.”