From left: Brianna Watkins, offending pit bull and its owner Demetrius Miles.
Columbus, GA - Last November, 12-year old Brianna Watkins was brutally attacked by a pit bull that scaled a 5-foot fence to get into her yard. She initially thought the dog was trying to play with her, until the animal tripped her1 and began attacking her head. Brianna suffered the lost of most of her scalp, both ears and facial nerve damage to the extent that she can no longer smile. In January, the dog's owner, Demetrius Miles,2 was charged with reckless conduct.
Late last week, WTVM published a special report about the incident. In a one-on-one interview, Watkins, now 13-years old, spoke about the attack. When asked, "Do you feel a little self-conscious about they way that you look right now?" She said: "If someone doesn't like the way you look then they are not good people." We praise Brianna's courage,3 yet also realize the insensitive, and at times cruel, teasing and bullying that classmates may inflict upon her in the future.
After the attack, Columbus investigators thought her injuries were so severe that she might die. Afraid they may never get the chance to talk to Brianna about the incident, they found a lab in Texas that specializes in animal DNA. They sent evidence to the Texas group to determine which dog inflicted the attack. Authorities are still waiting for the results.4 After weeks in the hospital, however, Brianna began to improve and was able to identify the dog that maimed her.
A male pit bull named Debo that lived two doors down.
The pit bull continues to be held in captivity at the Animal Control facility on Milgen Road where a court order issued by Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters is attached to its cage. Debo cannot be released or put to sleep, until the DNA results come in. Brianna wants the dog put to sleep. "I don't want anything to happen to anybody else if that dog got loose," she said. Demetrius Miles has since pled not guilty and his case is now in state court.5
So far, Brianna has undergone two surgeries. Doctors have removed muscle from her back to cover her exposed skull and replace her scalp. A procedure scheduled for this week will help recreate one of her ear canals. Her grandfather said, "She's got many, many more surgeries on down the road. It's going to take a long time for us to heal and for her to heal mentally and physically." The victim's family intends to file a civil lawsuit against the owner of the pit bull.
Rehabilitation Fund for Brianna Watkins
A fund has been set up for Brianna Watkins. You can make donations at any SunTrust Bank under the "Rehabilitation Fund for Brianna Watkins."
2Demetrius Miles MySpace page reveals that he may also own a female pit bull, named Baby Girl, as well as other pit bulls. He left an interesting comment on one photo about handling the "dogs like a pro." If the child was bent down just a little further, she would depict the "classic dogfighter pose."
3A former student at Midland Middle School in Columbus, Brianna is now being home-schooled as she recuperates.
4The DNA results may take up to eight months to arrive.
5Ben Richardson, the Solicitor General who oversees the state court system in Muscogee County, said his office is trying to upgrade the charges to a felony. Richardson is waiting on the medical diagnosis and whether or not Brianna will be permanently disfigured.
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