Attacked by Chained Pit Bull
Hodgenville, KY - In light of a recent story that involved a child being sent to Kosair Children's Hospital after a pit bull attack, we bring you the story of Emily Stinnett. On April 26th, 2004, she was attacked by the family pit bull. Doctors at Kosair told the sheriff that in order for the child to survive, they needed to find the rest of her scalp.
Larue County Sheriff Bobby Shoffner said the attack was "the worst I've seen in my 17 years of law enforcement." Shoffner said that when he and his colleagues responded to the Stinnett's home, they saw a blood-spattered doghouse in the backyard. The pit bull had retreated to its doghouse, but a neighbor who shot the dog said the animal still hadn't seemed to calm down. So the deputies shot the dog again, killing it.
Emily and another girl had been swinging on the swingset with the pit bull chained about 7 feet away. No adult witnessed the attack, but the dog apparently snapped, pulling its stake up from the wet ground and bit the girl, clamping down on her head. "I guess you would say she was more or less scalped," Shoffner said. He added that the dog then dragged the little girl around the yard as she screamed for help.
After a search of the property failed to turn up the missing scalp, authorities considered the next most obvious spot. Shoffner presumed correctly that the dog had consumed the top of the girl's head. First responders cut open the dog's stomach and located the scalp, which was then rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, doctors were able to reattach the majority of Emily's scalp. As we learn later, however, problems follow.
Emily's Recovery Story
In November, a news agency did a follow up story. Emily told the reporters that she missed her long hair. Her mother Melissa recounted what Emily said, "I cried for you, mommy, and I closed my eyes and I died." When Melissa got to the hospital, she didn't know what to think. "They didn't want to tell me anything at first."
Dr. Mark Chariker said the scalp was in four major pieces when it arrived, and "not all the pieces were replantable." He said he was able to find a couple vessels on two segments to reattach. "The scalp was fairly traumatized." The reattachment surgery was followed by other painful procedures. When the scalp failed to properly reattach, the doctors did leech therapy. Melissa said she had to watch the scalp pieces slowly die.
Though Emily began healing, Melissa said that some moments were unbearable. "She has come home from school and said, 'Mommy, I look different and I don't like to be different.'" Until plastic surgery, over an extended period of time to help her look like her classmates, Emily has many hats that she wears. Melissa wonders about her daughter's future, but she said, "She's alive and I thank God for that."
At the time of the attack, Emily was playing in her father and stepmother’s back yard. Melissa had not known that Emily would be near a pit bull.
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