Thursday, July 15, 2010
Victim before and after the pit bull attack. Click an injury photo to see larger view.
Abbi's mother, Merryll Macek, Abbi in "work mode" and a few of Abbi's bracelets.
Victim Creates Bracelets
UPDATE 07/15/10: Pit bull attack victim Abbigael Sheehan has begun crafting and selling bracelets to help pay her medical bills. Her mother, Merryll Macek, said her daughter wanted to do something to help the financial burden the bite injury has caused. Macek also added, "She's selling bracelets because her father isn't helping pay for the medical bills." Macek said she has been unable to work, her husband had to take time off and the family is now "behind on everything."
Abbi has teamed up with an Internet Connecticut jewelry store called Jewels by Mel, to sell her jewelry online. Melissa Smith, the owner of the store, said, "There's something wrong with an 11-year old trying to pay for her own bills. I felt I needed to help." According to Smith, the "All for Abbi" bracelets have been popular with people and boutiques across the country. Smith said many customers are buying in bulk. Orders have even come as far away as the United Kingdom.
The bracelets come in a variety of colors and designs, start at $4.00 and will be sold indefinitely. The Thames River Detachment of the Marine Corps League donated the thread and charms used in the bracelets. The bracelets can currently be purchased by contacting Jewels ByMel on Facebook. The website (www.all4abbi.com) says that a shopping cart is coming soon. It also lists links about the May 15 attack that occurred while Abbi was visiting her father's home.
That's the spirit Abbi and team! Keep up the great work!
06/30/10: Mother Feels Defeated by "System"
The Middletown Press reports that during Monday's hearing, the judge issued no order against Thomas Sheehan, maintaining his right to mandatory visitations. A friend of the mother, Melissa Smith, said the mother is feeling "very defeated." As a result of the incident, and what many victims of dog attacks undergo, the young girl is also experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and "does not want to see (her father)," Smith said. "She will be scarred for life."
Breezing through the comments following the Middletown Press article is like reading through a guidebook titled, "Maul Talk" or "Bite Spin," penned by any number of pro-pit bull lobbying groups. Themes presented include failure to acknowledge the severe injuries inflicted and failure to acknowledge the truth. The police report stated, "The witnesses said that the attack was unprovoked and unpredictable and that the girl had not been touching or reaching for the dog."
Minimize the injuryIf yourself or your child is ever mauled by a pit bull or any other dangerous dog breed, you can expect this same treatment and worse!
"It's because of this that little girls like (her) go through life damaged."
"Okay, so that means what, exactly? That now congress has to write a law concerning violence against females perpetrated by dogs?"
Call it an accident1
"It was an accident, for heaven's sake!"
"It was an ACCIDENT ,folks !! A sad one , but still an accident !"
Protect the dog
"And one thing's for certain...it wasn't the pit bull terrier that is/was to blame! The pit bull terrier is getting a bad rap here...as most of them do, sadly."
Blame the victim
"She set the dog off more than likely !! I don't think this dog was 'troubled'....The girl set the stage for what happened...probably teasing the dog and acting like a brat..."
06/29/10: The Doctrine of Parental Immunity
Today, DogsBite.org learned of a negligence limitation in Connecticut called the Doctrine of Parental Immunity.2 Other U.S. states have adopted similar doctrines. The policy essentially means that a negligent parent is immune from liability for injuries caused to the child. In the case of this young girl, it means that the mother, on behalf of the child, cannot seek damages for injuries against the father pursuant to Connecticut's strict liability dog bite statute § 22-357.
An attorney we spoke with today called the policy, "A dirty secret that I wish more people knew about." Outside of legal professionals, it seems most people would not know about this negligence shield unless confronted with a horrible incident, like Macek's daughter did last month: a pit bull launching a sudden and unprovoked attack. Despite the couple being divorced and the child at the father's home on a "supervised visit," the policy protects the father from liability.
06/28/10: Father Set to Appear in Court
Middletown, CT - The father of an 11-year old girl severely mauled by a pit bull on May 15 is set to appear in civil court today at New London Superior Courthouse. Thomas Sheehan of Middletown had been hosting a small family get-together when the attack occurred. The offending pit bull, named Tyson, was 18-months old3 and belonged to Chad Navin, the son of Sheehan’s live-in girlfriend. A police report states that Navin bought the dog from a friend for $200 a few months ago.
The victim was allegedly transported to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford immediately following the incident. But she did not enter into surgery until May 19 at 3:30 pm -- four days after the attack. This is very unusual. Children with severe facial injuries -- particularly when they involve eye regions -- are normally operated upon within hours of the inflicted injury. The dog, in fact, was even euthanized on May 18, a day before she underwent surgery.
According to the police report, Navin admitted that the dog was unlicensed, had no proof of vaccinations and that he shed tears upon viewing photos of the girl's injuries. Emails sent to DogsBite.org, however, allege that the father and Navin lied to the police, hid the dog for three days and attempted to get the animal vaccinated after the fact. The larger and more haunting issue is exactly when this child was taken to the hospital to receive professional medical treatment.
2The Doctrine of Parental Immunity and others like it were based upon the preservation and protection of the family, as well as the assets of the family. But what if the family is already broken up? Or, what if the family's finances are going to be terribly strained by the medical bills that result from the negligence of a parent?
3The prime age range of pit bulls to unpredictably attack is between the ages of 1.5 to 2-years old.
06/30/09: 2009 Fatality: 3-Year Old Gabrial Mandrell-Sauerhage Killed by Family Dogs
05/29/09: Pit Bull Owner Hides Dogs After Attacking Senior Citizen
06/09/08: Spokane Toddler Mauled by Family Pit Bull-Mix, Mom Skips Hospital
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| 6/29/2010 1:08 AM |
Father has been cleared of any and all charges, Not paying medical expenses and demanding visitation. No help from "the system"! Surgeon said this morning: " We can take a look again in a year, but this is as good as it's going to get". PERMANENT life altering injury with no consequences for the "resposible" (irresponsible) party. DEVISTATING
| 6/29/2010 6:26 AM |
This child is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She (or any other victim) does not deserve to be reminded of the most traumatic moment of her life everytime she looks in the mirror. In this case the judicial system has not provided protection or accountability. I can only hope throught mass networking we can help to heal Abbi's scars - both physical and emotional.
| 6/29/2010 7:35 AM |
I can't believe this state, no charges have been made,and Abbi still has to go where I'm sure she doesn't feel safe. Our court system sucks!!!!! The father should not have rights, the dog should be put down and the owner should pay for what the dog did! Our court system sees nothing wrong with this, I'm ashamed for them. These dogs are not safe to be around kids and should NOT be aloud as pets!!!
| 6/29/2010 8:51 AM |
This man's actions are inexcusable! First he takes her to a party and "forgets" to pick her up, now he is being granted visitation rights with a child that gets hysterical every time she has to go see him. What are the courts thinking?? I think the courts are abusing this child by forcing her to spend time with an uncaring parent. Her mother is staying strong and trying to do the best for her child - wish I could say the same for her father!
| 6/29/2010 9:41 AM |
The mother should sue animal control/law enforcement for not pressing charges and not pursuing an investigation investigating, and to find out how they handled this. Some government body has failed at their job, or is participating in covering this up.
Also, why didn't the hospital report this to law enforcement as a vicious dog attack? This dog could still have been on the loose, attacking other children. Are there dog fighters in this town? That's how bad this looks.
I also hope the mother has filed immediate civil lawsuit against the owner of the dog AND the property owner where this occurred.
| 6/29/2010 11:09 AM |
Im the Mom, I really feel for your situation. I know you've already got an uphill battle with helping your daughter to heal and stay strong during this ordeal, but your case is exactly the sort of case that often inspires sweeping, long-term changes in the law and policies. Don't accept a "no" from anybody who doesn't have the authority to tell you "yes", and don't give up seeking justice and recompense in this. It may take time, but it's not impossible.
If you haven't already, contact Colleen about joining the forum. There are a lot of very knowledgeable people there who can help you figure out where to go from here. Our prayers are with you and your daughter.
| 6/29/2010 11:27 AM |
Connecticut is a strict liability state:
Conn. Gen. Stats. § 22-357 Dogs and Other Companion Animals (2003)
If any dog does any damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper, or, if the owner or keeper is a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor, shall be liable for such damage, except when such damage has been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog. If a minor, on whose behalf an action under this section is brought, was under seven years of age at the time the damage was done, it shall be presumed that such minor was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog, and the burden of proof thereof shall be upon the defendant in such action.
With a humdinger caveat:
Doctrine of Parental Immunity
Squeglia v. Squeglia, No. 323748 (Conn. Super. Ct. J.D. New Haven, Jul. 14, 1993), 8 C.S.C.R. 984
The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the doctrine of parental immunity bars an action by an unemancipated minor against his parent alleging strict liability pursuant to General Statutes § 22-357. We conclude that it does.
The relevant facts are few and undisputed. The defendant, Robert V. Squeglia, Sr., owned a dog that attacked and injured the plaintiff, Robert V. Squeglia, Jr., in 1991. The plaintiff, who is the son of the defendant, was four years old at the time of the injury...
| 6/29/2010 2:32 PM |
There must be a civil suit to find out why social services, state social workers, and the rest are not investigating this clear case of child endangerment, and what part they played in this, also whether law enforcement reported this, and if not, why not.
That is why these people are paid significant salaries and benefits, exactly for this kind of situation.
Also, can't the ex wife enact a suit against this parent, and whomever the property owner is, for damages?
| 6/29/2010 3:20 PM |
Under CT law (Doctrine of Parental Immunity), she can't touch the father (cannot pursue under the state's strict liability statute). Squeglia v. Squeglia spells this out clearly. Possibly she can go after the dog owner's mother. None of this, however, may prevent the child from again being left under the care of the father.
I want to know why 911 was not called and when this child was first treated by doctors. The lack of a 911 call from anyone in the home is indicative of a cover up or a "delay" tactic, which may have caused further injury to the child.
Delaney Williams 6-years Old
"It was from the time of the accident until they touched down to Children's Hospital in the helicopter was approximately 13 minutes. So it was pretty quick because I guess because it was a facial wound and it was by her eye and nose. And they just tried to make it quick as they could to get her to the hospital."
-Donna Williams, Delaney's mother
| 6/29/2010 9:14 PM |
"Possibly she can go after the dog owner's mother."
That would probably be more likely anyway since this girlfriend (the dog owner's mother) was not married to the father, and the son should be sued as well.
These people were essentially guests of the father, and it was their responsibility.
They may not have any assets now, but if the father marries or transfers any assets to the girlfriend or her son, or they inherit, there may be in future.
Even more important, I believe that that a criminal complaint can also be sworn out by the mother of the child. She does NOT need to have law enforcement do this. She can go to the clerk of the court herself and swear out a criminal complaint. I have known people to do this when the cops refused to pursue something.
| 6/29/2010 9:18 PM |
"The victim was allegedly transported to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford immediately following the incident. But she did not enter into surgery until May 19 at 3:30 pm -- four days after the attack. This is very unusual. Children with severe facial injuries -- particularly when they involve eye regions -- are normally operated upon within hours of the inflicted injury. The dog, in fact, was even euthanized on May 18, a day before she underwent surgery"
There seems to be liability here for the hospital. The behavior of this hospital makes no sense, and there was clearly a failure to contact child services for an endangered child.
| 6/30/2010 10:06 AM |
Ask the doctor to become involved. Ask the doctor if he/she can determine how old the injuries were before he saw her. Ask the doctor to intervene and request charges. Most states required certain injuries to be reported to the police. If a dog bite is one of them, then the police do have an obligation to investigate.
| 7/01/2010 12:40 PM |
KTLA.com is reporting the mother of the baby whose testicles were torn off by a pit mix has been charged with felony child endangerment.
I fail to see any substantial difference between these two cases. Both are about children being in the immediate presence of pit bulls. Whether the child is an infant or an 11 year old, neither has the cognitive experience to perceive the risk or provide for their own safety accordingly. Felony endangerment charges should result in every case; the risk of pit bulls is too well known for any incident to be excused as ignorance.
| 7/01/2010 9:51 PM |
I think the ONLY difference in these two cases is that the infant was fortunate enough to have the police actually do their job. In Abbi's case, at first the police had no comment. Then they claimed that they called the department of children and families and did report the neglect. Regardless, the police did not make any arrest for neglect OR child endangerment, so the father is getting off with no consequences for what happened while the child was in his care.
| 7/01/2010 11:23 PM |
Out of the U.S. states that we have reviewed -- and this does not include all 50 U.S. states -- California lies in the top 2 states with the legal means to prosecute such cases. If proper state statutes are not written, authorities have no means to prosecute these cases. The question is, 1.) Why don't more states adopt such statutes? 2.) Why aren't child endangerment and neglect issues federal law and thus mandated by all U.S. states to follow?
| 7/02/2010 1:21 PM |
CT does in fact have state mandated reporting. The problem is that 911 was never called. The police would have HAD to make an arrest for child neglect and endangerment. The first doctor that she saw was also a mandated reporter. No criminal charges were ever filed. I have tried contacting the mayor of the town it happened in, but he will not return my calls. Each and every agency in the "system" failed this child, and continues to do so on a daily basis!
| 7/04/2010 9:37 AM |
Then if reporting is mandated, you could have a case against those who failed to report. I would see my elected official where you live, a state elected official because it is a state law. They pay more attention when you live in their district.
| 7/16/2010 1:43 AM |
Ms. Macek, if you happen to read this, please accept my best wishes and please know that I am very frustrated, upset, and angry by what victims of pit bulls are going through.
I have been involved with the dog world for many years, but I can tell you that I have become so discouraged and sad by what I have seen happening in this society.
Never did I ever dream that anyone would even attempt to rationalize or excuse owning fighting breeds that hurt people. Never did I ever even imagine that authorities would become complicit in helping people with violent dogs. Never did I imagine that innocent victims would be terrorized and threatened by selfish, immoral people who only care about themselves and their fantasies about fighting breeds. I did not realize that there was such ignorance, particularly among people who are supposed to be educated and supposed to know better.
There is a generation of children now growing up who are terrified of dogs. Dogs are not loving companions for the kids who have been mauled, witnesses to maulings, have had family members hurt or killed, have had friends mauled, have lost beloved pets to pit bulls.
There is now a generation of kids who live in fear. They are afraid to walk to school, play in their yards, go to the playground, visit friends' homes, even be in their own houses.
Even the kids who have not been involved in pit bull attacks are very aware. They hear these news stories, they hear about these terrible things.
If we adults are upset and depressed by these violent pit bull assaults, we can only imagine how tormented these kids are, the fear, the nightmares.
Kids don't feel safe in their own communities!
Every day I ask myself, how did we let this happen? How did we let fanatics who don't value human life force their fighting dogs and their values on us?
How did we let authority figures help these violent people and their violent dogs?
I know that this terrible experience will make your daughter a stronger person, from what it sounds like, and bring you two close.
I only can hope the younger generations will right the wrongs that my generation has perpetrated with pit bulls.
| 7/16/2010 7:20 AM |
BACK TO COURT - July 15 article:
"According to friends of the victim’s mother, Merryll Macek, her telephone and Internet have been disconnected because she does not have enough money to cover the cost of her daughter’s surgeries as well.
“Merryll paid for it all,” Eldridge said. “The only thing he paid for is the therapy — which he violated.”
Sheehan and his daughter were to meet regularly for therapy, a stipulation set forth by a judge at the New London Superior Courthouse.
Both Eldridge and Smith said that Sheehan violated his rights by bringing his live-in girlfriend to one of the sessions, initially meant for only Sheehan and his daughter so that they could “reconnect.”
He brought the pit bull owner to therapy. "Nice"
| 7/16/2010 12:40 PM |
These pit nutters don't realize that an attack just doesn't affect the victim. It affects all those around the victim, their classmates, their extended family, their neighbors. It is sending a message to many, many people and eventually those people will demand that pits be eliminated. No one wants to live in fear of "man's best friend". It probably does affect other dogs because people will start not wanting to have a dog and thus more dogs will be euthanized in the shelters. One victim means dozens, if not hundreds, become victims of pits. We can't let this continue.