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 injury
"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..."
If 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!
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's mother, Merryll Macek, said her daughter suffered severe injuries in the attack including five deep lacerations and two puncture wounds under the jaw. Three-fourths of the girl’s right eyelid was also ripped off. Though Macek was not present when the incident occurred -- Macek and Sheehan are divorced and live in separate homes -- she said 911 was not called and the incident was not reported to Connecticut Department of Children and Families.
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