Boy still critical after dog mauling

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A 2-year-old Augusta boy who was attacked by dogs Friday night remained in critical condition Sunday, according to a spokeswoman at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Damien Chavous was bitten by four dogs after he climbed over a 4-foot-tall wire fence that separates a neighbor's backyard from his great-grandparents' backyard in the 3600 block of Belair Road.

Maggie Swint, Damien's great-grandmother, said the boy was bitten more than 100 times and required at least 200 stitches.

The four dogs that bit the boy and another dog that was in a separate fenced-in area of the front yard were taken by animal control officers.

The owner of the house and the dogs, Shirley Barnes, said she runs a registered animal rescue charity called Hearts for Animals that is based in Belvedere.

"I don't go around searching for animals to rescue," Ms. Barnes said. "I just take in abandoned animals that nobody else wants to take care of and animals that people drop off in my front yard."

Ms. Barnes said she does not live at the house on Belair Road but that she does visit it at least once a day to check on the animals.

"I'm over at that house sometimes more than once every day, taking care of them and feeding them," she said.

Diane Downs, the director of Augusta Animal Services, said the dogs were up to date on their shots and they all appear to have been well fed.

The investigation is continuing, and animal control is waiting for its completion before it decides what will happen to the dogs, Ms. Downs said.

Reach Jonathan Overstreet at (706) 823-3708 or jonathan.overstreet@augustachronicle.com.

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Just My Opinion
5440
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Just My Opinion 07/13/09 - 04:34 am
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Let's don't lose focus

Let's don't lose focus here...the problem is NOT the lady with the dogs, it's the child who climbed over into the restricted yard (it's restricted because of the fence). Since the responsibility cannot fall upon the 2 year old child, it then reverts to the parent or guardian who was supposed to be watching him. This is a tragic accident. Children can and will slip away at times without 100% detection. Let's don't fault the dog owner in this one.

pantherluvcik
628
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pantherluvcik 07/13/09 - 06:33 am
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It's clear that nobody is

It's clear that nobody is blaming the owner, but she has some fault here. If she does not live there then whether she checks on them once a day or not those dogs should not be there. You can't burden a neighborhood with dogs that you won't even live with. And wow a 4 foot fence really. But the mom should have known better, if i go inside so do my babies. But the only one suffering here is this little baby, it's just sick. They should destroy every one of those dogs immediately. He has a terrible journey ahead of him if he makes it and I pray he does.

struggling parent
1
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struggling parent 07/13/09 - 06:41 am
0
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Absolutely is correct that

Absolutely is correct that the blame should be on the family the child is with since it is due to lack of supervision. Children can get into anything no matter what. I am willingly to bet that the child was a climber since he was able to crawl so she should have been more alert. Since there were dogs next door, the children are fascinated with the pet and will try to pet/play with them. But I have to say the owner of the dogs is irresponsible by leaving them. If she moved to Belvedere, she should have taken the dogs with her. Four ft fence is not high enough. When I had an outside dog, my fence was at least 5 ft high at least on one place and another 6 ft high.

WAG
287
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WAG 07/13/09 - 07:14 am
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Let's remember a dog is an

Let's remember a dog is an animal.....Doesn't matter whos fault...My heart hurts for this poor baby....I hope he makes it....Please pray for him..

bone
23
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bone 07/13/09 - 07:22 am
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i am absolutely blaming the

i am absolutely blaming the owner: she moved and left four dogs untended (and possibly underfed) in a residential neighborhood ostensibly as part of her ongoing rescue effort for strays. sure, she followed the letter of the law and only kept four dogs in her backyard so she wouldn't violate code; running an illegal dog pound, though, should have consequences. the parent of the mauled child should have supervised the child better.

getalife
4
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getalife 07/13/09 - 07:36 am
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WRDW reported on this story

WRDW reported on this story last night, child had over 150 dog bites and required over 300 stitches to repair the damage. Another lady was attacked by pit bull in another story on WRDW. Animal control should wake up and require registration of dangerous dogs and make tougher restrictions for them such as taller heavy duty fences, gates with lock, location restrictions, etc. And people should never leave a small child unsupervised and especially next door to a dog compound!!

justus4
99
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justus4 07/13/09 - 07:43 am
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Where are the charges? The
Unpublished

Where are the charges? The dog owner was responsible and deserve punishment for the poor judgement. The kid will be affected the rest of his life, all because an idiot animal owner thinks all animals are valuable. Some grown-up have gotta step in to protect the children. Misplace values are no different than the absence of them.

Little Lamb
44966
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Little Lamb 07/13/09 - 07:54 am
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People who take in stray dogs

People who take in stray dogs and abandoned dogs have their hearts in the right place, but their heads are not screwed on right. I know. My next-door neighbor is doing the same thing Ms. Barnes is doing.

NANF
4
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NANF 07/13/09 - 08:27 am
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The dogs, the dogs the dogs.

The dogs, the dogs the dogs. ARUGH!!!! What about the people that were supposed to be taking care of the BOY. Just don't seem like a 2 year old ( alone ) could have gotten over that fence . Too many barriers in place on it. The dogs owner did what was required by law, all that she needed to do. Which is more than the mother or who ever was charged to watch the boy did for him. Now people call foul on the dog owner. Did someone hold the boy at the fence to look at the dogs and he wiggled out of the persons arms maybe.People that won't watch the kid enough to keep him from harm alone, would be stupid enough to hold him up there AND then not own up to what he did. Maybe there could be a lot more to this story than has come out.

AAQueen
18
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AAQueen 07/13/09 - 08:50 am
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My prayers go out to that

My prayers go out to that child. I saw the fence on the news and just can't see that child climbing it. Some think that thedogs may have pulled him over. I've been around plenty of toodler and is godmother to a two year old that I have to watch constantly because he is a jumper and runner. I don't see that child climbing but I guess he did. How else did he get over.

FlyersFan77
0
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FlyersFan77 07/13/09 - 08:51 am
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I hope this little one

I hope this little one survives and will be able to heal from his horrific injuries. Richmond County is investigating the situation. Child services is investigating the home and the mother's claim that she was away from the child for only 5 minutes. I know it's easy to demonize the dog owner, but this isn't a case for that. My understanding is the dog owner will not be charged, and shouldn't be. She had the dogs contained on her property They are up to date on shots. Well fed and seemingly healthy (I don't know where bone got possibly under fed from). The dogs did not jump the fence or dig under it. She is not required, by law, to live at the residence. She is required to care for the animals - and the evidence shows that she does. As a community we should focus on the child getting well, and hope that he get's the best care possible. Let the investigation be done by the professionals. My thoughts are with this little one, I pray for his full recovery, the poor baby.

Alltrue
0
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Alltrue 07/13/09 - 09:29 am
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God bless the

God bless the baby.

Obviously, a residential district is no place - UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - for an animal shelter (and especially not an admittedly largely unsupervised one!). The shelter should be moved to a more supervised locale.

I'm guessing that nothing more needs to be said regarding the lapse in supervision of the baby. No doubt the guardian is sicker with grief than we all are...

ladyjanegrey
0
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ladyjanegrey 07/13/09 - 10:03 am
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Well your guessing wrong

Well your guessing wrong alltrue...it's the ones who were watching the childs fault..period...if the child had walked instead to the street and been hit by a car would the driver be at fault???...People Take responsibility for your children!! It's NO one elses job!

Ode
5
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Ode 07/13/09 - 11:24 am
0
0
Good grief. The unaccountable

Good grief. The unaccountable victim mentality is alive and well in the CSRA. Somebody somewhere please cite what actually law the dog owner has broken before you say she is responsible. Please. Anybody? Read people. "Diane Downs, the director of Augusta Animal Services, said the dogs were up to date on their shots and they all appear to have been well fed." The dog owner had her dogs contained on HER PRIVATE property. She is not in violation of zoning laws. It doesn't matter whether she lived at the property full time or not. It does not matter if she had gone to the grocery store, was sleeping, had walked down the street for exercise or had gone on vacation. The child was unsupervised and trespassing on PRIVATE property. His parent(s) (though he sounds daddy-less) is responsible for that.

triscuit
2954
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triscuit 07/13/09 - 12:08 pm
0
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This child was unsupervised

This child was unsupervised to have been out by himself at that hour and to have been able to had time to climb a fence. It was not a huge fence, but it would take a 2 year old more than a few seconds to climb it. Who knows if he maybe provoked the dogs. Two year olds pull tails and ears! I am not a fan of keeping a lot of dogs on properties, no matter what, but she was doing what the code said and dogs are going to investigate someone coming into their territory...whether 2 or 200. This kid was not being watched, plain and simple. I hope he recovers and won't climb anymore fences.

klsm
0
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klsm 07/13/09 - 12:17 pm
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yes a child of two can climb

yes a child of two can climb a fence. our son could climb out his crib at four months. no joke. when he was 2 years old, i was at work and my husband was at home sleeping bc he worked nightshift. our neighbor kept children at her house. our son was "suppose" to be napping with the other children and he went out the back door, where there was a pool, and climbed over the fence from the back yard to the front yard and then the front yard fence, and crossed the road to our house with his full sized pillow in his arms and was knocking on our front door before the babysitter ever realized he was gone. needless to say she NEVER watched him again. so kids can climb at that age.

klsm
0
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klsm 07/13/09 - 12:20 pm
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sorry ... i am in no way

sorry ... i am in no way defending the mother. you KNOW if your child is a climber and that you cannot let that child be alone for a second. i would even take our son to the bathroom with me so he could not get into anything.

Nammy3
0
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Nammy3 07/13/09 - 12:28 pm
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klsm~gotta admit that's a

klsm~gotta admit that's a cute story {knocking on his own front door! lol} but Thank God he didn't do a number of other things that come to mind. Yes, Mothers - WATCH YOUR CHILDREN EVERY minute! My thoughts are with this little boy! He's going to have it rough for a good LONG time. Let's pray he makes it through this.

lissamike
0
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lissamike 07/13/09 - 12:31 pm
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What happened to the good old

What happened to the good old days when people knew how to act and how to take care of their children? I'm 31 with two kids, 2 and 1, and by no means am I perfect but I know to keep my toddler close to me when she's outside, especially when there are animals around but I also know toddlers can move faster than lightening at times. No one but the people involved know what REALLY happened and if the mother (whoever was to be watching him) just turned her head and let him run loose with zero supervision then yes, go get her (them), but otherwise leave the women alone. Every parent has turned their head for one split second only to have their child take off faster than they ever could have imagined. More times than not the child are safe with no major injuries, unfortunately this time that didn't happen. If this family cares for their kids and this was one of those times where they turned their heads for a second, I'm sure their grief is punishment and painful enough. They have to look at this child knowing it could have been prevented. If this is one of those families that doesn't care about their kids then they should be prosecuted to the fullest and may God have mercy on them.

What4
0
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What4 07/13/09 - 12:35 pm
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A two year old has no

A two year old has no business in the yard by himself, period. An unattended dog shelter should not be allowed in Columbia County, period. What else is there to say?

klsm
0
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klsm 07/13/09 - 12:38 pm
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nammy ... the boy is 17 years

nammy ... the boy is 17 years old now and i still cannot let him out of my sight!!! dang! lol! but you are right ... anything could have happened to him that day and that is why i quit work and did not go back to work until he started kindergarten ... it was evident that no one was going to watch our child like his parents.

radiatingtatas
0
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radiatingtatas 07/13/09 - 12:41 pm
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For the poster that said the

For the poster that said the dogs should be put down immediately. [filtered word] how can you say that. Maybe the mother should be punished to---what did the dogs do except protect their own property. I am not saying that I am a perfect mother because trust me I am learning every day with 3 kids but I do know that I did not leave my children outside while I did anything at 2 and when were instead I had the chain on so they couldn't get out. Blame the parents not the dogs/owner.

Nammy3
0
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Nammy3 07/13/09 - 12:44 pm
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klsm!I HEAR that! lmao Good

klsm!I HEAR that! lmao Good for you to be able to quit work. Many can't afford to do that. This whole thing is sad, indeed. My heart aches for this child and what his future holds. Just mentally! Poor baby.

cruiser93
270
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cruiser93 07/13/09 - 01:02 pm
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First, my prayers are with

First, my prayers are with the child.
The family of this child IS responsible !
I wonder what they were doing in that amount of time that it took for this to happen ???
The dog owner is the last person to blame here but she is the perfect scapegoat for you fanatics who don't look at the whole story.
The fact is, the dog owner was doing everything right and the child's guardians were doing EVERYTHING wrong !
How many of you would hire a babysitter who would allow YOUR child to wander around that long unsupervised ?
And if this same thing happened to YOUR child I know that you are just going to let that babysitter off with a warning right ? WRONG !
And I know plenty of people who live in the house with their pets who do not see them but a few minutes a day. So, now we have to hire someone to house sit for our animals every day while we work, go to school, etc. ?
Give me a break !
Animal services already said that the dogs were well taken care of. And they ARE on private property WITH a fence.
If pool owners put up a fence and a child climbs it and drowns in that pool...the homeowner is NOT responsible.

Alltrue
0
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Alltrue 07/13/09 - 01:59 pm
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Lady Jane Grey - I believe

Lady Jane Grey - I believe you missed my point entirely. It was assumed by the phrase "lapse in supervision" which (obviously) pointed the finger at the guardian - if we have to put it out there this way to be understood - as being solely responsible for the tragedy. The idea that I attempted to get across regarding the admittedly unmanned shelter being in the wrong location was simply this: a shelter for unwanted, abused or otherwise previously maltreated animals is a HIGH RISK situation to have next door to anyone. POSSIBLY, if the child had struggled to climb the fence of a home where someone lived full-time, there would have been a CHANCE that he would have been discovered by the neighbor before any ill befell him/her. Same if the child had climbed the fence towards the front and gotten near the street. Nothing is fullproof, no doubt about it. We parents have GOT to do the watching. But, parents are fallible - why inject more risk (i.e. an unwatched shelter in the hood)? I appreciate you opinion as well. Have a great day!

buckydog1
0
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buckydog1 07/13/09 - 02:11 pm
0
0
Again, put the blame where it

Again, put the blame where it belongs, with the parents---the dogs DIDN'T go across the fence! What difference does it make if anyone was home. Someone could live there 24/7 and gone out of town for the day, geez. The dogs were well fed and their shots were up to date according to the animal shelter. You people need to get real. There is something called parental responsibility! My prayers are with the child.

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 07/13/09 - 03:26 pm
0
0
Luckily there were dogs in

Luckily there were dogs in the yard and not a pool or the kid would probably be dead by drowning instead of alive in a hospital. I have to wonder if the mother's idea of "5 minutes" and 5 minutes on an actual clock are the same measurement of time? I frequently see unattended children in stores raising cane, throwing merchandise, and running around screaming and carrying on like they think they're on a playground. If their parents let them behave like that in a public place, I can't imagine they pay the least bit of attention to what their kids are doing in their own backyards.

corgimom
30247
Points
corgimom 07/13/09 - 06:46 pm
0
0
Years ago, I adopted a dog

Years ago, I adopted a dog that had been a stray for over 18 months. She wasn't feral, at one time she had been someone's pet; but she was not the same as the other 2 dogs that I had, that had been with humans every day of their lives. She always was odd and different, and she never gave up her extreme issues with food. She was the only dog that I've ever had, that had issues with certain people, too. That's why I wonder about those dogs, if some of them weren't half wild or abused and distrustful of humans. No matter who is liable, it was a terrible accident.

momma mia
2
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momma mia 07/14/09 - 09:40 am
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Mom needs to take the

Mom needs to take the responsibility here. Why was she leaving a 2 year old unsupervised outside for any amount of time?

LCC0256
626
Points
LCC0256 07/14/09 - 10:18 pm
0
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the dogs need to be put down

the dogs need to be put down & the owner's name published & CHARGES brought.... If the District Attorney's office has any guts they will proceed ( something on the line of depraved indifference to the safety of a child) Even if they did not think they could win - it is the principle & i remember times when that office was held by men that did not worry about "batting averages" There is NO PLACE in this society for dogs that will attack a child....i have had dogs all my life & if any one of them ever even acted like it would bite A CHILD i would have sent it to the promised land (if there is one for mongrels) and i mean in a hurry...thank goodness the "mother" of that poor precious little boy FIGHTING FOR HIS LIFE is in custody...If there are no criminal charges then someone responsible in the child's family should pursue civil charges...There should NEVER BE THE POTENTIAL for a child to be mauled SO EASILY by a savage beast...that is the bottom line.. That little boy has my prayers as well as all believers that know about this tragedy...

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