Mother of dogs' victim is charged

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An Augusta mother whose 2-year-old son was mauled by dogs will remain in the Richmond County jail without bond after her arrest on a charge of cruelty to children.

Jessica Lynn Chavous, the boy's mother, was taken into custody at the hospital.  Special
Special
Jessica Lynn Chavous, the boy's mother, was taken into custody at the hospital.

Jessica Lynn Chavous, 24, was arrested about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital, Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said.

Richmond County Sheriff's Office, Augusta Animal Services and the Department of Family and Children Services began an investigation after her son, Damien Chavous, was attacked by four dogs in a fenced yard next door to her grandparents' home in the 3600 block of Belair Road Friday night.

Police have said they don't plan to charge the owner of the dogs, Shirley Barnes, in connection with Friday's incident. However, Augusta Animal Services Director Diane Downs said her office is still investigating.

Ms. Downs said Tuesday that some of the dogs have mange and that she has asked Ms. Barnes to come to their office today to show proof of vaccination and other veterinary records on the dogs.

Police discovered in their investigation that just a week before the mauling, Damien was nearly hit by a passing motorist in front of the same Belair Road home, according to a statement released by Lt. Peebles. The motorist, who called the sheriff's office, said no adults were outside and they were not aware that the toddler was outside.

Officers were also told by family members that Ms. Chavous was aware that her 2-year-old could open the gated deck where he was left unattended Friday night before the dog attack. She also knew that the child could climb the gate and had done so many times, according to witnesses.

Bill Swint, Ms. Chavous' grandfather, said her 2-month-old child is now being cared for by a friend and the family is no longer allowed to visit Damien at MCG. A spokeswoman for DFCS would only confirm that an investigation was ongoing.

"It's getting awfully rough now," Mr. Swint said. "My wife is pretty worried about the baby, but they won't let any of us see him now."

As of Tuesday morning, Damien was continuing to improve, Mr. Swint said. He remains in critical condition at MCG.

Ms. Barnes used the Belair Road house as a rescue mission for abandoned pets called Heart of Animals, but she is not licensed as an animal rescuer in Georgia, Ms. Downs said.

The dogs will remain at the animal shelter, Ms. Downs said. Ms. Barnes could face charges of animal cruelty if she cannot show that the dogs had proper rabies vaccinations.

Mr. Swint said he hopes the family will soon be able to visit Damien.

"We're all shook up over this," he said. "We just want to see about the baby."

Staff Writer Preston Sparks contributed to this article.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (35) Add comment
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HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 07/15/09 - 03:07 am
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This woman has no business

This woman has no business raising children. Let's hope this child is placed in safe custody.

blazestr
0
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blazestr 07/15/09 - 04:22 am
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I think the grandparents need

I think the grandparents need to be charged, cause it was at there house and they also where not watching the child. I also believe the owner of the dogs should be charged for things also. The child may have came into there yard, but it was still an attack on an 2 yr old. I bet if they where pit bulls, the dogs would have been taken right then and there to be put down. Just like all the other dog attacks that happen. Everyone is at fault in this whole story.

Just My Opinion
5638
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Just My Opinion 07/15/09 - 05:17 am
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Good grief, blaze. You want

Good grief, blaze. You want the dog owner charged because she was keeping the dogs in the FENCED backyard? What if it had only been one dog in the fenced backyard and she was actually living at the home? Would you still expect her to be charged? Okay, then what if the child climbed the fence and then somehow opened the neighbor's backdoor and went into the house where the dogs were being kept? Would you STILL want the lady charged?? Look..even the authorities say the dog owner did everything right as far as having the dogs in the backyard behind a fence. The child did the wrong thing, but since it's a child and knows no better, then the adult caregivers are the ones at fault. The dogowner is NOT the child's caregiver!

dasgaslo
0
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dasgaslo 07/15/09 - 05:37 am
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The right person is being

The right person is being charged as it should be!!!

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 07/15/09 - 05:56 am
0
0
22 and still doesn't know how

22 and still doesn't know how to watch a child? I guess down loading another was a good idea? Keeping this person away from children is a good idea.

CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 07/15/09 - 06:20 am
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HillGuy,Das & PT: Agree,
Unpublished

HillGuy,Das & PT: Agree, agree and agree! It should be unlawful for her to make more babies to neglect...nuff said!

xanadu
0
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xanadu 07/15/09 - 06:27 am
0
0
someone needs to notify

someone needs to notify anjelina and madonna, let 'em know there's some kids here they can come buy and add to their collection/menagerie.
this story -- along with the one about the nimwit who left her six month old in the parking lot of macdonald's is further proof for the argument of sterilizing certain members of the population. Anyone with an IQ as low as these two sad excuses for motherhood needs to have their plumbing yanked.

getalife
4
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getalife 07/15/09 - 08:00 am
0
0
Too bad an IQ test is not

Too bad an IQ test is not required for a person to have children. Does Richmond County require a license to operate a dog rescue facility? In a close neighborhood, people should not be allowed to keep this many dogs at an unoccupied house. One of the dogs in the WRDW news story was a pit bulldog.

momma mia
2
Points
momma mia 07/15/09 - 08:33 am
0
0
I'm wondering if the

I'm wondering if the commentors today are the same bunch who yesterday were crying for the owner of the dogs to be arrested? The mother is the one who left this child unattended. The right person is behind bars as far as I'm concerned. Her "five minutes" away from the child are probably many more minutes.

ladyjanegrey
0
Points
ladyjanegrey 07/15/09 - 08:43 am
0
0
thank you..........

thank you..........

noway
201
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noway 07/15/09 - 09:15 am
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People are required to have a

People are required to have a license to have dogs...but not to have kids. Seems funny to me.

rufus
2
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rufus 07/15/09 - 09:27 am
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0
She shore is purdy

She shore is purdy

working_girl
0
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working_girl 07/15/09 - 09:28 am
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I think that if the dogs were

I think that if the dogs were not being taken care of then the owner should be charged. As far as the mother is concerned, is jail really the best place to teach her how to care for her children? I would think that taking the children away, probation and/or parenting classes would be better.

andywarhol
0
Points
andywarhol 07/15/09 - 10:12 am
0
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Jail first, then the classes.

Jail first, then the classes. She'll most likely take the classes more seriously when she realizes the punishment sucks if she does it again.

calihali
0
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calihali 07/15/09 - 10:54 am
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Hey Blaze - if a child got

Hey Blaze - if a child got into your yard and was stung by wasps, yellow jackets, etc., do you think you should be charged? You are ridiculous.

klsm
0
Points
klsm 07/15/09 - 11:55 am
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This chick (according to her

This chick (according to her aunt on the news) has THREE kids! And she is 24 years old. Let's see ... one is 2 years, one is 2 months ... the other??? Ohhhhh our tax dollars at work.

BEREAL23
0
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BEREAL23 07/15/09 - 12:45 pm
0
0
Yep this is another fine

Yep this is another fine example of our tax dollars, she just continue to have these kids and can't watch them. She need to stay in jail. My prayer is with the toddler may God continue to heal him, he was missed by the car and caught by the dogs,what kind of mom is this. oh by the way Where is the father of these kids, she is 24 with 3 kids and no husband

2 B JUST ME
0
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2 B JUST ME 07/15/09 - 01:28 pm
0
0
Dat be how she pays hur

Dat be how she pays hur bills, wid da baby money from govment checks

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 07/15/09 - 02:57 pm
0
0
Working Girl, it's been made

Working Girl, it's been made crystal clear the dogs were being cared for and fed regularly, so just drop it already.

emergencyfan
0
Points
emergencyfan 07/15/09 - 02:57 pm
0
0
I feel bad for the little boy

I feel bad for the little boy in the hospital. Regardless of how poorly his family was supervising him, it must be a traumatizing experience be all alone in the hospital and hurting. Seems to me that he should be allowed visits from his grandparents (and yes, even his mother once she's out on bail) under the careful supervision of the medical staff. Strictly for his comfort, not for theirs.

brandy1951
0
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brandy1951 07/15/09 - 03:14 pm
0
0
You all need to go read the

You all need to go read the up date to this story seems someone was holding the boy and was kicking the fence and a dogm grab the boys leg and drug him over the fence and attacked him.

brandy1951
0
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brandy1951 07/15/09 - 03:15 pm
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0
You all need to go read the

You all need to go read the up date to this story seems someone was holding the boy and was kicking the fence and a dog grab the boys leg and drug him over the fence and attacked him.

astheworldturns
30
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astheworldturns 07/15/09 - 05:13 pm
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brandy,,,That is not how it

brandy,,,That is not how it happened...I saw the news..The lady said she has seen a man with a little girl in his arms kicking the fence one time before...Geez,,,pay attention,,,thats how rumors get started

blazestr
0
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blazestr 07/15/09 - 07:04 pm
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Okay lets think about this

Okay lets think about this since people think i'm being "ridiculous" there are people who had there dogs IN A FENCED IN YARD and attacked people and the dogs had to be put down....but wait they where pit bulls, so i understand why the dogs aren't getting put down and why the owner isn't being punished either, but then again, they shouldn't have such aggressive dogs at there home. but yet again, it's not a pit bull.....thats my point im making personally. cause if it was A PIT BULL IT WOULD HAVE GOTTEN PUT DOWN. dogs aren't dumb animals they know the difference between a 2yr old being nosey compared to a older man robbing the place, they are not probably trained dogs.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 07/15/09 - 09:37 pm
0
0
One TV station said the child

One TV station said the child was only near the street, not in it, which is it?

DEADEYEDICK
0
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DEADEYEDICK 07/15/09 - 09:42 pm
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0
THEY PUT THE WRONG WOMAN IN

THEY PUT THE WRONG WOMAN IN JAIL Please note Shirley Andrews AKA Shirley Barnes her dogs have attacked before. http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/052399/met_207-5836.000.shtml http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/060499/met_207- 5905.000.shtml NO WAY DID A 2 YR OLD CLIMB 2 4 FT CHAIN LINK FENCES WITH A SHARP TOP ON THEM I THINK HER DOGS DRAGGED THAT CHILD UNDER THE FENCE ANIMAL CONTROL FAILED IN THIS CASE! JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF FAILURE IN RICHMOND COUNTY

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 07/15/09 - 09:44 pm
0
0
Baroness.. what difference

Baroness.. what difference does it make if he was in or near the street? What was a 2 year old child doing unattended outside where he could have easily been hit by a car, abducted, or lord knows what else? How hard is it to keep your children indoors where you are at? It's not that hard. Atleast if you know they are inside the house, they cannot be hit by a car or mauled by dogs. I know of no two year olds capable of opening the front door of a house (especially if it is deadbolted).. Anyone who has children these age.. knows you have to toddler proof your house.. keep cabinets locked, etc. But in this case we are talking about GROSS negligence. On several occassions the mother simply left this 2 year old outside unattended. Any number of horrible things could have happened to this child because of the negligence of this parent.

sassygirl12
1
Points
sassygirl12 07/15/09 - 10:16 pm
0
0
as i said last night if

as i said last night if anyone owns dogs in there yard this could be you. i hope they keep this poor excuse of a woman in jail..she needs parenting classes.. oh and then we find out that the same boy almost got run over..this woman does not need kids. she needs help bad,,her family does too.. if they were such a careing family then why were they not watching this child too?

bm4
0
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bm4 07/15/09 - 11:52 pm
0
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News 12 has on their website

News 12 has on their website that the father is in prison for cocaine. What a great family life for the children! The right person is in jail but I don't understand why no family member can see the child.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 07/16/09 - 12:31 am
0
0
Unfortunately this child is

Unfortunately this child is being raised in a white trash environment. Hopefully the child will be placed in a safe, loving environment. Being placed back in the care of this mother would endanger the life of this little boy.

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