A 5-year-old has undergone facial reconstruction surgery after he was bitten in the face by a dog roaming his neighborhood.
The chow mix bit the boy Saturday. Chris Hernandez, spokesman for the city, said the boy "was bitten pretty badly."
Quentin Holman was attending a family gathering just before dark on Saturday in the 2000 block of East 27th Street when the dog entered the front yard and bit him. His family and residents in the neighborhood say it was a stray that hangs around the neighborhood, Hernandez said.
"It changed everybody's life that night," said the boy's grandmother, Gladys King. "We don't know what kind of problems he may have."
Authorities are also looking into whether the dog bit an adult a few weeks earlier in an area just a few blocks away.
Quentin was looking forward to starting kindergarten later this month. The family gathering was a combination baby shower for one family member and birthday party for two family members.
The boy was playing with a small family dog when the chow came out of nowhere and latched his jaw onto the face of the boy, who struggled to flee.
"We had been shooing the black dog away all day," King said. "He was on all fours and playing with our little Yorkie, and the black dog just came. Nobody was expecting it. Nobody saw him until after."
A terrified Quentin tried to flee.
"The dog had literally clamped onto his cheek and I think what ripped it was when Q got up to run away and the dog had to release it," King said. "I looked over and I couldn't realize what was happening even though I knew what was happening. My mind couldn't process it."
The family called 911, and paramedics rushed him to the hospital.
She said the boy underwent his first surgery on Monday. The family is trying to stay strong for the boy's sake but is worried about long-term damage.
"He's not talking like he should," King said, adding that it affected part of his mouth that he uses to speak. "He's having a hard time trying to get back his sensation and talking."
The dog was captured by animal control about 2 p.m. Monday. Animal control officers had to tranquilize the dog, which will likely be put down so it can be tested for rabies.
King said the family is relieved that the dog has been caught, but the family loves animals and hates it came to this.
"I am very happy. My daughter is happy. But it's a happy-sad because we like animals," she said. "Because of his previous owner's neglect or abandonment, he had to fend for himself. And that's not a good thing, either."
The focus is now on Quentin's recovery.
"He is in good spirits. He only cried when they gave him the tetanus shot," King said. "His body is still at a rapid healing stage because he is so young. I am just praying he doesn't have to go through the rest of his life with an ugly scar."
Neighbors said the dog had been roaming the neighborhood for weeks.
Billy Vaden said he was surprised by the dog's actions.
"I didn't think he'd bite nobody. He didn't look vicious. He really didn't. He looked like he was calm and cool, just walking down the street content, like he was glad to get loose from somewhere," Vaden said. "He was just enjoying it, enjoying his little moment of freedom."
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