Toddler recovers after surgery from dog attack, family speaks out

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DUPLIN COUNTY, NC (WITN) - Several hours after a dog attack, 2.5-year-old Christian Strickland is now resting at Vidant Duplin Hospital post-surgery.

"They had to stitch up six lacerations," says his mother, Casey Futrell. "One they had to do from the inside, to all the way to the out and double stitch it."

With her clothes still stained with his blood, Futrell and other family members explained to WITN how this happened.

"All I thought about, is that he was on my grandson and I was trying, like I don't know what, to get him off of him," says Judy McGowan, Christian's grandmother.

McGowan says they were at a family member's home for the funeral of her sister-in-law's mother, when her grandson was approached by two dogs.

"One of them was turning around and going away and this dog just goes up and grabs the top of his head," says Calib Strickland, Christian's brother.

He helped McGowan pry the dog off of Christian and she now has bites and scratches of her own.

Christian's mom arrived a short time later and says she thought for a moment this could be the end for him.

"Whenever I felt him, he felt kind of cold, so I wasn't sure if he lost too much blood," Futrell says. "Parents... pay attention. I mean very close attention to their children around dogs. Even though you know the dogs might be okay, but you don't know if the dog is going to turn or not. You just don't know."

Duplin County Animal Control authorities say charges for the owner of the hound mix, Virginia Taylor, are possible.

The dog was euthanized soon after the attack and is now being tested in Raleigh.


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A toddler has been hospitalized and a relative's dog put down during an attack during a family funeral this morning.

Duplin County Animal Control says it happened on McGowan Road in Faison around 8:45 a.m.

Beth Strickland says her two-year-old grandson, Christian Strickland, was in surgery at Duplin Vidant Hospital with head injuries.

The family was attending a relative's burial at a family cemetery that's on another relative's property.

Joe Newburn, animal control supervisor, says two dogs first approached the boy, who petted one of them on its head and it started growling. Newburn says the other dog then attacked the child, with another grandmother trying to intervene. That woman was bitten on the hand.

Relatives say the child's older brother also tried to get the dog off the toddler.

Newburn says the child was bitten on the top of the head with multiple lacerations. Animal control found the dog on the porch, and was "abnormally vicious" when they arrived. The animal, a hound mix, was placed in their truck and euthanized. The remains will be sent to Raleigh for testing.

The animal control supervisor says the property owner has been identified as Virginia Taylor, and they believe it was her mother's funeral that the family was attending.