• August 24, 2016

Dog attacks & PTSD

Recent incidents highlight mental scars for victims and their families

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Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 4:30 am

Tshara Gardner, a former Killeen educator and mother of seven, stood outside her home on Elk Ridge Court. Across the street, Timber Ridge Elementary students headed home.

“You move into a neighborhood like this, because you want to be safe,” Gardner said.

The neighborhood did feel safe until Feb. 15. That afternoon, the small cul-de-sac where the neighborhood children played became the site of a vicious dog attack that injured three of her children and shattered the family’s sense of security.

The attack began when a shepherd-malinois mix escaped from the yard of a nearby home and attacked Gardner’s daughter, Adebisi Agunbiade, who was 6 at the time. Adebisi was playing outside the home of a family friend when the attack began.

“I was scared,” said Adebisi, now 7.

Her 12-year-old brother, Adejuwon, also was outside that day. He said he heard screams and saw a dog dragging his little sister in the street. He tried in vain to get the dog to let go of Adebisi.

With the help of a neighbor, Adejuwon eventually was able to get the dog off his sister.

They ran for their home and escaped inside, but not before the dog attacked the small girl several more times and bit the arm of their 5-year-old brother, Av’ry.

The dog also attacked Gardner’s 13-year-old daughter, Ademaya. The attack stopped when a Killeen police officer shot and killed the dog.

Adebisi had the most severe injuries. She was taken to McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White in Temple and underwent surgery that night. Her left arm is scarred.

But mental scars are far more difficult to cope with, Gardner said.

‘UPSIDE DOWN’

She noticed a drastic change in her daughter, who was once eager to go play outside.

“She was afraid to step outside,” Gardner said. “She didn’t even want to walk to the mailbox.”

The young girl had nightmares, her mother said, and was constantly afraid that “something bad” would happen to her and her family.

Adebisi was diagnosed with acute post-traumatic stress disorder.

Her older brothers and sisters also struggled to cope with the incident. The children who were attacked, and Gardner herself, have struggled to get back to normal.

“It’s like a domino effect. ... It’s just turned everything upside down,” she said.

Tania Glenn, a psychologist who specializes in PTSD, said the disorder can be especially difficult for young children and teens.

“Kids don’t have the insight and understanding of the world that adults do,” Glenn said. “Many times you see it manifest in their behavior.”

Glenn said that behavior can include intense phobias and night terrors. Symptoms of PTSD in children also can manifest in “acting out” behaviorally, which can sometimes lead to misdiagnosis.

“Many times these kids get diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” Glenn said.

SPEAKING OUT

As her family continues to recover, Gardner said she wants to speak out and raise awareness about dog attacks. Reading about the death of 2-year-old Camari Robinson of Killeen, who was killed in a similar dog attack March 1, also played a role in her decision to speak out.

“I was devastated when I heard the news about Camari’s death,” she said.

Camari’s mother, Angela Robinson, has become an outspoken advocate on the issue, urging Killeen officials to re-examine the city’s laws on dangerous animals.

Gardner, too, said she wants dog owners and the public to educate themselves on warning signs of potentially dangerous dogs.

“You can’t wait until the dog attacks someone,” she said.

Officials appear to be listening to residents’ concerns. At a recent workshop, Killeen City Council members and Police Chief Dennis Baldwin discussed possible ways to strengthen the city’s ordinances regarding dog ownership such as requiring all dogs be microchipped and allowing code enforcement and animal control to enforce stricter fencing requirements.

The recommendations now sit with the city’s animal advisory committee, which will review them before presenting them to the council for a vote at a future meeting.

As officials move forward in their efforts to curb dog attacks in Killeen, Gardner and her family work to recover from the trauma of their ordeal.

Adebisi’s injuries are healing, and neighborhood children are playing in the small cul-de-sac again.

“I don’t want my daughter to spend the rest of her life afraid,” Gardner said.

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11 comments:

  • Bubba posted at 7:25 am on Wed, May 21, 2014.

    Bubba Posts: 844

    If you knew who they were you should have filed complaints of civil and a criminal nature and make people do their jobs.

     
  • ImJustSayin posted at 6:36 am on Wed, May 21, 2014.

    ImJustSayin Posts: 175

    Sure, called the police and there was nothing being done ... the Parents could have cared less and in the end, the neighbors children set my privacy fence on fire and my boy got so stressed by the fire department breaking down the fence, the fire etc that his gut twisted and he died an hour before his vet appointment. I was at work when I got the call and it ripped everything out of me. As to the Fire, The Fire Marshall did not come and talk to me personally but my daughter who was home at the time of the fire heard him say that "Boys will be Boys". This incident has caused me a lot of emotional trauma. The smell of a Fire Place, A BBQ Grill sends me running around looking and checking if anything is on fire .... and lots of other things. No one did anything .... because the only "thing" that died was my dog ... and he was just a dog. Thank goodness everyone who caused issues has been moved with the Military and we are now surrounded by retired folks but my emotional scars remain. It is too long to write everythings down here and too many emotions are coming back up. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, Depression and Anxiety due to this incident and as you can tell ...... I question things very much because I have been on the other end. People need to realize that to some people their dogs are their family ..... and just like I took care of my kids, I take care of them.

     
  • Bubba posted at 5:59 pm on Tue, May 20, 2014.

    Bubba Posts: 844

    Were there no police where you lived? No parents?

     
  • ImJustSayin posted at 6:49 am on Tue, May 20, 2014.

    ImJustSayin Posts: 175

    In all of these attacks it seems that the dogs just break lose and attack. There are no incidents before that, this all just happens out of no where. I own a large dog and it takes a lot to get him excited so I am just wondering if anyone has any insight of why these dogs attacked.
    Yes, the incidents are tragic but in order to get things under control all angles need to be looked at. I had, for YEARS, children run up and down my fence and bang on it to make the dogs bark ..... hight pitch screaming was also part of this torture. Many time I had to run outside to get these kids to stop and was given the "finger".
    How do we control this type of behavior that is a precursor to bad dog behavior?
    There is more Human on Human violence than dog on human .......
    My dogs are behind a privacy fence and in my house to protect them from ignorant humans and not the other way around.

     
  • ShastaDog96 posted at 8:47 am on Mon, May 19, 2014.

    ShastaDog96 Posts: 1

    Jaloney and McCartney, when will you ever shut up? Seriously, dont you people have families or a job or sports to watch on TV or something?!?! You spend ALL of your time bashing DOGS and owners of these dogs. When will you educate yourselves?? When will you stop spreading lies. You know, with as much time as you two spend on the internet, you could be using that time to teach dog sfety to children or make petitions for leash laws or mandatory spaying or neutering. In case you haven't noticed, BSL isn't working. Education works. Sad you can't notice that.
    BSL laws drop like flies each and every day, and more and more people are accepting our breed, adopting them, rescuing them, having TV shows about them, etc.
    What YOU want isn't going to happen. The exact opposite is.
    Stop watering a dead flower.

    I am going to feel bad if you two continue posting your sh!t until you are old and feeble, and you've lost all your friends and family because you chose to be a hermit and do nothing but sit on the internet, foaming.

     
  • Bubba posted at 8:38 am on Mon, May 19, 2014.

    Bubba Posts: 844

    We don't need 25 posts from mccartney to document the problem. We need solutions.

     
  • Jaloney posted at 1:33 am on Mon, May 19, 2014.

    Jaloney Posts: 1

    Texas is a pithole. I guess they think tourists can read.

     
  • Colleen Lynn posted at 9:54 pm on Sun, May 18, 2014.

    Colleen Lynn Posts: 1

    [beam] Merritt, stop trying to fool Joe Public with your faux 'statistics'.

     
  • Bubba posted at 7:04 pm on Sun, May 18, 2014.

    Bubba Posts: 844

    Punishing after the fact passes the important message that offenders will be punished. Right now, they are getting away with killing children.

     
  • MerrittClifton posted at 6:28 pm on Sun, May 18, 2014.

    MerrittClifton Posts: 3

    Public safety is only protected if laws prohibit the conditions leading to accidents, whether the issue is fire safety, gun safety, vehicular safety, the prevention of contagious disease, or dog attacks. Punishing people after the fact for creating a safety risk does little or nothing to inhibit risky behavior by risk-taking personalities. Two categories of dog between them have accounted for more than 90% of all fatal & disfiguring dog attacks occurring in the U.S. since 1844: the molossers, including pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, boxers, and their many mixes, who together are about 9% of the dog population but account for about 80% of the fatalities and disfigurements, and the "wolf-like" breeds, including Akitas, German shepherds, Malinois, huskies, Malamutes, wolf hybrids, and miscellaneous others that are sometimes passed off as wolf hybrids. These account for about 4% of the dog population, but 10% of the fatal and disfiguring attacks. Significantly restrict possession of these two breed categories, & fatal & disfiguring dog attacks will drop back to the level of 1930-1960, when the U.S. averaged 0.5 fatal dog attacks per year, while the large molosser and "wolf-like" dog groups were together less than 3% of the dog population. (Pit bulls, now 5% by themselves, were less than 1%.)

     
  • Bubba posted at 1:44 pm on Sun, May 18, 2014.

    Bubba Posts: 844

    Stop talking about ridiculous requirements like putting chips in dogs or requiring certain fences. The city needs to legally punish dog owners that fail to maintain the peace and control their dogs. If the dog kills a human, the dog owner must be charged with that death as required by state law. Failure to do so is flat out incompetence by your district attorney. Owners in fatal attacks need to be jailed; as do owners of dogs causing serious injury. Non-injury attacks must result in fines against owners. Citizens who have an irresponsible dog owner for a neighbor and that neighbor has an uncontrolled dog, those citizens need to arm themselves with an appropriate firearm and ammunition to kill the uncontrolled dog at the first attack.

    Before you get all swelled up, know this: I am a dog owner; and a responsible one. I am a firearms owner; and a responsible one. I also endured 5 attacks from a 150 pound rottweiler dog in my neighborhood over the course of 18 months. I had the owner fined after 3 attacks, and that was not enough to restrain either owner or dog. I had to deal with an incompetent, mealy-mouthed animal officer after the 5th attack; I realized I was my best solution. I informed the officer that next time I would do his job for him, and shoot the dog. I let the officer and dog owner know that I was going to be armed for this purpose on my daily walks. I told the officer that when I had to do his job, I would do everything in my power to relieve him of future responsibility. This is what it took to get the attention of those concerned, and the attacks stopped.