Little girl 'completely scalped' in dog attack by friend's new pet

·4-min read

An eight-year-old girl was left “scalped” with a fractured skull and a 22cm laceration on her head after being attacked by a pitbull.

Savannah Coleman was playing in the backyard with neighbours the US town of Miamisburg, in Ohio, in July 2018 when her friend’s family bought their new dog outside on a lead.

According to witnesses, the dog immediately latched onto the little girl’s head.

Savannah’s mother Tierney Dumont said by the time she arrived at the scene her daughter was dripping in blood.

“I felt sick to my stomach. I was in complete shock as I stood there and looked at my child completely covered in blood,” a distraught Ms Dumont said.

“Savannah was wearing a little white T-shirt that day and I remember it being soaked in blood, and blood dripping down to her new Adidas trainers that we had bought the previous month for her birthday. For some reason, those two images still stick in my head.”

Paramedics took Savannah to a children’s hospital where she spent five hours in surgery that night to treat the lacerations on her head and her hand.

She received a blood transfusion to replace the blood she had lost in the attack and her head was shaved so drains could be placed as a result of the surgery.

Savannah Coleman two years after the dog attack (left) and her head covered in stitches after the dog attack (right).
Bubbly Savannah Coleman (left) was 'scalped' (right) after a dog attack by a friend's pitbull. Source: Australscope

“Savannah had nine lacerations to her head, one being nine inches (22cm) long, which is where she was completely scalped. She had three lacerations to her right ear, two lacerations to her right hand and a puncture wound through the palm of her right hand,” her mother explained.

Two years on, Savannah is now 10 years old and is still recovering.

“Savannah has severe nerve damage in her head that causes excruciating pain and headaches. She gets nerve block injections every six weeks, and is on two medications to manage her headaches and nerve pain,” Ms Dumont said.

‘Changed our family forever’

Her mother explained before the attack, Savannah was bubbly and loved being outside, but the vicious attack had left her daughter with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

“Unfortunately it has deeply changed our family forever. Not only did it affect Savannah physically but the mental stance it took on her really shook us. Savannah never wanted to go outside afterwards unless me or her dad were right by her side,: Mr Dumont said.

Dog attack survivor ten-year-old Savannah with her mum, Tierney Dumont, and her mum's partner, Nathan Baker.
Savannah in her wheelchair pictured with her mum, Tierney Dumont, and her mum's boyfriend, Nathan Baker. Source: Australscope

“If we were going to go somewhere outside we had to call ahead and ask if dogs were allowed and that would determine if Savannah wanted to go or not. Even taking a walk in our neighbourhood we had to be super cautious.”

Despite the ordeal, Savannah is showing signs of improvement every day and her parents couldn’t be more proud.

“She still has days where she just wants to cry. Sometimes, she sees a specific dog and it brings her right back into the moment it happened and it’s a full panic attack,” her mother said.

“We take it one day at a time and try not to plan too far ahead. We have our good days and our bad days. But she is a fighter, after every procedure and every poke we make it known that she is a warrior.”

Savannah’s law

The dog that attacked Savannah was put down and Ms Dumont has been working for the past two years to have a bill passed in Savannah’s name which would make an unprovoked dog attack a fifth-degree felony.

“Right now, if your dog attacks someone in our state it is only a minor misdemeanour ticket. This is a $120 fine, no other punishments. I personally think that’s not enough,” the mum said.

“The message I want to convey is that dog attacks are a problem, and they unfortunately happen far too often. Savannah was one of three children admitted to the hospital that night for a dog attack.

“I want them to see how much of a fighter my little Savannah is and although something horrible happened to her we are hoping for something amazing to come out of it.”

with Australscope

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