Felony Child Abuse
UPDATE 06/24/09: Authorities have charged the mother of Dalton Mathis, Jennifer Lynn Higdon (formerly identified as Jennifer Roberts), with felony child abuse after Dalton was nearly killed in a dog attack. Jennifer was also charged in an unrelated matter with statutory rape and indecent liberties with a child involving a juvenile boy. Prior to these charges, she was already in custody on an incest charge for an alleged incident last month. Her total bond is $100,000.
02/22/09: Injuries Suffered Described
A subsequent update by the same newspaper reported that the young boy suffered 60 bites to his neck, throat and face and can't talk because of a punctured voice box. According to Dalton's mother, Jennifer Roberts, Dalton arrived home from school Thursday, dropped off his book bag and went back outside before Cross, a 100-pound shar-pei-chow mix, attacked him. She said the dog had broken free from its chain.
The boy can't speak but his mother said she asked Dalton if he was now afraid of dogs, and he shook his head, "No."
It's unclear why she would ask her son this question in the wake of a terrifying attack that left his face and neck severely injured. Without the immediate intervention of law enforcement officers, Dalton would have been killed. We pray that this young boy is not allowed to remain under the care of Roberts or that he is returned to the dog owner's home of Carolyn Higdon, where Roberts and her family had been living on and off for the past year.
02/21/09: Boy Still in Critical Condition
More information has been released. According to the 911 caller, "her parents had gone to pay a power bill when the attack occurred." Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe said the dog looked like a St. Bernard-mix, while animal control officers said the dog appeared to be a shar pei-mix. Charles Stephens, the animal control director, said the dog was unchained at the time of the attack, though it looked like it had been chained in the past.
The shar pei is a Chinese fighting dog. Pet Finder shows "shar pei mixes" from the region of the attack: shar pei-mix, shar pei-mix, shar pei-pit bull mix, shar pei-chow mix, shar pei-American bulldog mix.
02/20/09: Owner Has Cruelty Record
Jackson County, NC - In a developing story, a 7-year old boy remains in critical condition at Mission Hospital after being mauled and dragged by a dog -- a separate article calls the animal a "mixed-breed." The incident happened at a home on Pumpkintown Road Thursday night. It is now Friday night and the breed of dog has yet to be named. The sister of 7-year old Dalton Mathis made the frantic call to 911 while the boy was being attacked.
News reporters have learned that the owner of the dog, Carolyn Higdon, was found guilty of animal cruelty back in 2002 and ordered not to own any animals for at least two years. Thursday night, there were several dogs on her property chained up -- two of which appear to be pit bull-mixes. Please watch the video to learn more. Currently, the Department of Social Services and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office continue their investigation.
The dog continued to be violent after police officers pulled it off the child. The officers were forced to shoot and kill the animal.
01/21/09: 2009 Fatality: Brianna Shanor, 8-Years Old, Killed by Chained Dog in Hanover
10/06/08: "Mixed Breed," a Typical Animal Agency Cover Up for a Pit Bull?