4-Year-Old Critical After Pit Bull Attack

Published: Apr. 28, 2004 at 2:15 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2004 at 11:01 AM EDT
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Emily Stinnett
Emily Stinnett

By James Zambroski

(HODGENVILLE, Ky., April 28th, 2004, 6 p.m.) -- A 4-year-old girl remained in critical condition at Kosair Children's Hospital Wednesday after being attacked by a pit bull at her home in LaRue County Monday night. The LaRue County Sheriff says it's the worst dog attack he's ever seen. WAVE 3 Investigator James Zambroski reports.

Emily Stinnett remained in critical but stable condition Wednesday at Kosair Hospital after undergoing emergency surgery. She was surrounded by family members as well as questions over what triggered the family pet to turn into a vicious attack dog that nearly mauled Emily to death.

LaRue County Dep. Sheriff Russell McCoy said the dog apparently tore off part of Emily's scalp. "Kosair Children's contacted the Sheriff's office and advised us that in order for the child to survive, we had to find the missing piece to the scalp."

Emily Stinnett was playing on a swing set in the backyard of her dad's home at the time of the attack. The family pet, a pit bull, was chained to a stake nearby when the dog's chain tie-down pulled out of wet dirt.

Police say the animal struck without warning. "When the stepmother came around to check on the little girl, the dog had already attacked her," said Sheriff Bobby Shoffner. "The mother was unable to get the dog off the child."

Frantic, the mother drove to a neighbor seeking help. Paramedics and LaRue County Sheriff's officers soon raced to the scene.

Neighbor Pam Lynott described what happened next. "The ambulance stopped in the road and asked me if I called the ambulance, and I said, 'no.' And then I heard screaming from next door."

LaRue County Dep. Sheriff Russell McCoy arrived shortly thereafter. "The dog had already retreated to his dog house," McCoy said. "He (Emily's father) told me that the neighbor had shot at the dog and told me that the dog was very aggressive and for me to put it down, so I went ahead and put the dog down."

When a search of the property failed to turn up the little girl's scalp, McCoy says police came to a grisly conclusion. "I couldn't find any evidence, not even a hair. So then Sheriff Shoffner decided that the dog probably had consumed it."

With Emily's life hanging in the balance, the officers did what they had to do. "Since the dog was deceased, we went ahead and opened the dog up and found the missing part of the girl's scalp in the dog's stomach."

Shoffner called it "the worst dog attack I've ever seen."

Police officials said it was too early to tell if any charges would be filed in the case. The LaRue County Health Department planned to test the dog for rabies on Wednesday. It will take about 10 days to get the test results.

A fund has been set up to help the family with medical and other expenses. You can send donations to the Emily Stinnett Fund, Bank of Buffalo, P.O. Box 39, Buffalo, Ky. 42716.

Online Reporter: James Zambroski

Online Producer: Michael Dever