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Thread: Conflict with mom after her dog bit my daughter [long read -- sorry!]

  1. #1

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    Conflict with mom after her dog bit my daughter [long read -- sorry!]

    Last April, my 17-month-old daughter was bit in the face by my mom's dog (a pitbull mix). There was no warning or provocation -- my wife asked if the dog was safe around kids, my mom said yes, my wife set my daughter down, and the dog imediately charged in and bit her. She had about 12 punctures, the deepest about 3/8" deep. One punctured her eyelid, but thank God did not hurt her eye. We had to visit the ER multiple times, even with antibiotics it still got infected, and for a while we had to pin my daughter down every hour to release the pus. It was very hard on us.

    It turns out, this was not the first time the dog had bitten a kid. Once it had bit a kid's hand, and it's snapped at kids before, too. We didn't know, and my mom, who's terribly forgetful, says she doesn't remember the other incidents. My wife and I did some research, and dog experts classify this as a level 3 bite and say that without extensive behavioral modification training, the dog should not be considered safe (and even with training, many dogs who go straight to a level 3 bite won't ever learn bite inhibition). It's also worth noting that my mom immediately downplayed the situation, and has kept calling it an accident, fluke, a "perfect storm", etc. I've asked her to talk to a dog trainer to get their opinion, and she hasn't.

    The hospital reached out to animal control, and although they typically don't get involved when it's a family dog, was willing to grant an exception in our case. We weren't going to sue, but the court would have determined if the dog was "dangerous" and, if so, a multitude of precautions would need to be taken to keep the dog away from children. Myself and many others felt the dog should be put down. My mom called me the night before she was going to put the dog down and told me that she felt it was wrong for the dog to be put down, and that she would hold it against me. I was exhausted, so I backed down. I told her that she could keep the dog and we would not submit the court paperwork if she preemptively met all of the precautions required to keep a "dangerous" dog. I also told her that we would never visit her house as long as she had the dog, which she was OK with.

    My mom has not kept her end of the agreement. She still lets the dog roam off-leash on her property whenever she's outside. She has not posted any warning signs. When she's gone on vacation, she's left the dog with her parents (my grandparents). They are also forgetful like her, and I've told her this doesn't meet our agreement and makes me angry, but it's fallen on deaf ears. It's also fallen on me to ask where the dog will be kept every time she takes a vacation.

    In November, I experienced the first TRUE EMERGENCY of my life. My pregnant wife started hemorrhaging blood, and both her life and the baby's were at risk. The ER told us we needed to find someone to watch our 2-year-old (the one who was bit), but my mom was on vacation and my grandparents were the only ones available. I didn't even think about the fact that my grandparents might have been watching my mom's dog -- in that situation, "Where's my mom's dog?" was the last thing on my mind -- and when the thought did finally occur, it scared the crud out of me. Fortunately, the dog wasn't there.

    I realized that my mom, or anyone watching her dog, are unavailable in an emergency which, in my opinion, is derelict in family responsibility. I told her that I regretted having said the dog could live, and she has not kept her end of the agreement, and that the dog should be put down.

    My mom responded by basically saying I was mentally unstable because it's been almost a year and I'm still so upset. That it wasn't a big deal. That I should just let it go, and get help. This naturally made me very angry. In the end, I had to back down again because the opportunity to process this in court has passed, and I cannot make my mom put her dog down. I just try not to think about it, but when I do, I get so upset, and I withdraw from my family because I don't want my kids seeing me this angry and upset. Now, I honestly don't want to even see her -- but, I have to, because it's not fair to my daughters to not see their grandma. So, my question is, am I crazy? Am I supposed to just let it roll off of me? Do I need to seek help?

    Most of the family won't weigh in because they know how strongly each of us feels, so I'm turning to you guys and gals here, and if you think I should, then I'll set up an appointment with a therapist. Many thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    You and your wife need to find better and safer childcare situation as well as distance yourselves from your family and create better boundaries. Why not rely more on your wife's family, friends, neighbors, babysitting groups, and other childcare options. Why debate the safety of your child with your family? You two are the parents and you two are ultimately responsible.

    The first incidence was both you and your wife believing a vicious pit bull is safe as well as your family's claim it's safe. There was poor judgement all the way around. You don't need your family to weigh in. You and your wife need to make sounder decisions regarding the safety and well being of your kids and much better childcare choices.

    Having the dog put down is closing the barn door after the horses escape. It does not benefit the real victim of poor judgement and supervision...your innocent daughter. However a justified personal injury lawsuit to recover damages and to open a trust fund for her should she need plastic-reconstructive surgery in the future would actually help the real victim of her parents and grandparents horrible judgement.

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    Thank you for your response, Wiseman -- that was very helpful! I found out yesterday that the dog has escaped my mom's property and was free roaming her neighborhood. I have contacted animal control and, unless she puts the dog down, will proceed with going to court to have the dog classified as dangerous. With this will come court-ordered precautions, and if she breaks those, she'll be subject to anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony with possible jail time.

    I hope this doesn't sound petty, but to be clear, my wife and I did not know this dog had bitten any other kids, nor did we know it was half pit-bull (it looks almost like a large lab), until after my daughter was bit. We always ask if a dog is safe around kids, and after my mom said he was, my wife set my daughter down and stood next to her while my mom stood next to the dog. This is how the incident was broken up so quickly. At the time, we thought this was safe -- because we never, in our wildest dreams, thought a dog we had just been assured was safe (by no less than my own mother) would bite without any warning or provocation. The dog also showed no sign of aggression towards us, although we learned after the fact that dogs can behave differently around people their size or smaller. It has been difficult enough to forgive ourselves without outside judgment.

    Fortunately, my daughter has actually healed very well. Because she was so little at the time, all but the deepest wound healed with only minimal discoloration and should fade almost completely in time; the deepest wound left about a 3/8" long scar, but our pediatrician thinks it will be barely noticeable by the time our daughter is a teenager. Today, we always carry pepper spray and don't allow our daughter to interact with any dog unless the dog lives with kids -- and even still, hold the dog's head and only allow my daughter to pet its back. Although I'd be fine with never seeing another dog again, I think it's important that she know how to be safe around them.

    My mom has only been allowed to watch our daughter at our house, or else with additional supervision. We have not been to my mom's house since, and never will again -- even after the dog is dealt with. We have continued to allow my mom to see her at our house because my daughter loves my mom and frequently asks to see her, and it doesn't seem fair to penalize my daughter as long as we can ensure it is safe. For now, though, my mom has not been allowed to visit at all.

    Again, thank you for your response. It means a lot to know I'm not overreacting as my mom keeps accusing me, and this has encouraged me to take this to court.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    Why on earth did you allow this animal to live? All you had to do was look at your poor little girls face and recall holding her down to drain the pus.

    That animal is a monster and if it were me, that dog wouldn't have been killed quickly enough!

    Now you've left the door open for that dog to hurt someone else. That's incredibly irresponsible.

    As for your daughter's childcare, look elsewhere and don't rely on your mother or grandparents. If they are this forgetful, god forbid what could happen with your child in their care.
    It really is a shame that the dog is alive though. It should be eradicated.

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  6. #5
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    I don't think grandparents have any responsibility to take care of grandchildren -if they do that's a true blessing and luxury. Putting that aside I think you need to keep your child and any children away from this dangerous animal. Certainly your mom should see her granddaughter but since she was so careless and so thoughtless after I would not let her spend time unsupervised -I'd be concerned in general about her common sense especially since she's letting this dangerous animal potentially attack someone else.

    I was bitten by a dog without provocation over 25 years ago and it led to 10 plus years of being anxious around all dogs. I knew the dog, had met with the dog before, he was on a leash (belonged to my boyfriend's mother) and we were both surprised but it happened. I have had several bad experiences with irresponsible dog owners around me and my child but luckily no more bites - just near-attacks, etc. I don't think your mother should be left alone with your daughter anymore.

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    Platinum Member ThatwasThen's Avatar
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    As much as I loved our dog, if it ever bit a child (or a grownup for that matter) I would have her put down. I'm very surprised that your mother thought nothing of her dog puncturing her granddaughter's face. That is rather alarming and would make me consider her mental well being.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    The lack of support that you are receiving from your family is outrageous.

    On one hand, I'm amazed that there exists even a possibility in your mind that your mom and grandparents are not Dead Wrong.

    But coming from a slightly wacked out family myself, I actually do relate to somewhat passive stance you ended up taking. When you're surrounded by crazies, you can start to question your own sanity on things--especially when the crazies are banding together and mass-'forgetting' important facts like The Dog Is Vicious And Attacks Children.

    But that doesn't let you off the hook. Wiseman said it right. YOU are the parents. Your Number 1 job is to protect your children. There's no room for debate on the safety of your child.

    I don't think it's a therapist that you need. It's boundaries. Your mom is waaay off base in her response. It's actually frightening that she downplayed the fact that her dog almost bit through your daughter's eye.

    Your family is not forgetful. They are straight negligent and honestly I think it borders on criminal. And you should eliminate them as caretakers altogether. Your children are unsafe in their care.

    If you insist of letting you mom visit your children, keep her supervised.

    How can you trust her?

  9. #8
    Forum Supporter ~Seraphim ~'s Avatar
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    I would tell my mom and grandparents they can only see the kids at MY HOUSE. No if‘s ands buts or anything else, period. Your family sounds completely unsupportive and not realizing that the dog could’ve killed your daughter . My mom was bitten in the face as a child by her uncle’s dog however her uncle did the responsible thing and took the dog out and shot it ( this was many years ago when animals were not euthanized at the vet. I am not promoting shooting animals not at all . I am a very avid animal lover .)

    However , in most cases attacks are not completely unprovoked. Most people just don’t speak “ dog .” Almost every single dog will give off warnings of some kind .

    However, it is still 100% the responsibility of people to keep their children safe .

  10. #9
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    We grew up with dogs, but my mom returned a dog when I was little when it bit me.

    I'd go one step farther, and tell your parents they will not see their grandchild, period, until that dog has been dealt with. Period.

    What the F is wrong with some people.

  11. #10
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    Originally Posted by ~Seraphim ~
    I would tell my mom and grandparents they can only see the kids at MY HOUSE. No if‘s ands buts or anything else, period. Your family sounds completely unsupportive and not realizing that the dog could’ve killed your daughter . My mom was bitten in the face as a child by her uncle’s dog however her uncle did the responsible thing and took the dog out and shot it ( this was many years ago when animals were not euthanized at the vet. I am not promoting shooting animals not at all . I am a very avid animal lover .)

    However , in most cases attacks are not completely unprovoked. Most people just don’t speak “ dog .” Almost every single dog will give off warnings of some kind .

    However, it is still 100% the responsibility of people to keep their children safe .
    In my case I walked by the dog who was on a leash next to his owner (boyfriend's mother) -about three feet away - barely saw the dog as I walked by to put my stuff down - he lept out and bit me on the leg breaking through my pant leg and skin. Unprovoked. Several other times a dog off leash has bounded over to me and my son or leapt into my path if on a really long leash when we were just minding our own business. Unprovoked. No warnings. If I sense a dog is about to do something we react by asking the owner to leash him and/or getting away if at all possible.

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