As Adebisi Agunbiade jumps up to spike the ball for the Killeen Parks and Recreation volleyball team, people often notice the scar down her right arm.
Although the 11-year-old Union Grove student has healed from nearly losing her arm in a dog attack five years ago, the scar serves as a constant reminder of both the physical and emotional trauma of the day, according to her mother Tshara Gardner.
“The doctors said if she hadn’t been wearing a coat that day, the dog would have ripped her arm all the way off,” Gardner said. “In my mind, I will never forget the horror of that day and how it changed my children’s lives, and mine, forever.”
Gardner would like to see stricter standards for dog owners pertaining to the safety of the community.
Adebisi was 6 years old when she was attacked by a shepherd-malinois mix while playing outside the home of a family friend Feb. 12, 2014.
When her 12-year-old brother, Adejuwon, heard her screams and saw the dog dragging her down the street, he ran to her rescue.
They struggled to get free from the dog and run home, but the dog managed to attack Adebisi several more times — and bite the arm of her 5-year-old brother, Av’ry, before they made it to safety, according to a previous Herald article.
The dog also attacked Gardner’s 13-year-old daughter Ademaya before it was shot and killed by a Killeen police officer.
As a result of the attack, at least four children were diagnosed with severe PTSD, Gardner said. And after two surgeries, Adebisi still bears permanent scars on her left arm and battles ongoing issues, the mother said.
A separate incident weeks later in 2014 left another family bereaved by a dog attack in Killeen.
An 18-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl were walking home from the Iduma playground with a 2-year-old boy their family was babysitting, when a dog described as a large bull mastiff, ran out of the garage of a home near the intersection of Pennington and Mildred avenues.
Both children were transported to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, where the 8-year-old girl was hospitalized, and 2-year-old Raymane Camari Robinson Jr. was pronounced dead March 1, 2014.
Since the owner of the mastiff was not home and the dog had no prior history of attacks or aggression, charges were not filed by the city or the county.
An open records request from the Herald to the city of Killeen’s Municipal Court revealed the 66-year-old woman who was moving the dog when it broke free received a misdemeanor citation for “animal at large” and was fined $164.
Texas forbids any city to pass breed specific dog legislation, so the city’s “vicious dog ordinance” is the only legislation currently addressing dog attacks.
The Killeen City Ordinance Section 6 defines an aggressive dog as one that “exhibits behavior indicating that it represents a potential danger.”
The ordinance lists non-exclusive examples of aggressive behavior such as when an unprovoked dog “chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks or any public or private property in a menacing fashion or displaying an apparent attitude of attack,” or when a dog “has a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury or to otherwise threaten the safety of human beings or domestic animals.”
The ordinance states no dog deemed dangerous will be allowed within the city limits of Killeen.
“My family moved not long after the incident, and just relocated back to Killeen last year,” Gardner said. “I would like to pick up where I left off by addressing the Killeen City Council and asking for their help in this matter.”
A year after the attack, Gardner remembers pulling up to Harker Heights High School for a track meet and seeing two Doberman pinschers behind a chain-link fence that was not even as tall as them.
“They were bumping up against the fence and acting like they wanted to get out,” Gardner said. “The fence for the dog that attacked my daughter was rotting and had holes in it.”
Gardner said she has heard of and seen tickets being given for lawns that aren’t properly maintained, and would like similar vigilance paid to keeping fences for animals in good condition.
Additionally, she would like to educate the public on how to care for their animals in a way that is respectful of the safety of those around them.
“It’s not about being anti-animals, we love our animals,” Gardner said. “No matter how much we integrate them into our space, they have a different nature than us.”
Gardner said that since her family has had time to heal from the attack, the family of nine would like to get a pet dog soon.
“We used to say it would need to be a small dog, but now we’re looking into all sizes,” Gardner said. “We just want to be sure we take good care of it and make sure it is well trained.”