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Pit bulls attack 5-year-old and grandmother in South Boston

Shirley Vaughan and her 5-year-old grandson are recovering after being attacked by two male pit bulls Wednesday morning while waiting at a bus stop on Sandy Beach Road in South Boston.

According to Halifax County Animal Control Chief Warden Todd Moser, no one knows what provoked the two dogs’ actions that occurred around 7:30 a.m. when pit bulls first attacked the 5-year-old biting both arms and right leg before turning on Vaughan as she tried to pull the dogs off her grandchild.

The two dogs bit Vaughan in her upper right thigh as she pried them from her grandchild’s limbs.

In an effort to protect her mother, Mary Snead ran from the house and was able to make the pit bulls release their hold on Vaughan, Moser said.

However, the two dogs then attacked and killed the children’s small house dog  - a chihuahua - that came outside with Snead.

Another 7-year-old grandchild waiting for the bus with the 5-year-old was not injured during the attack, Moser said.

The two pit bulls belonged to Sandy Beach Road neighbor Patricia Gomes Pender who Moser said was very disturbed about the attack.

“She was upset and crying,” he added. “No one knows what made them attack the child and his grandmother.” 

Both victims were taken to the emergency room at Halifax Regional Hospital where they were treated, Moser said, noting the 5-year-old suffered severe puncture wounds to his arms and leg, and his grandmother also was treated for a puncture wound to her thigh.

“The 5-year-old will have to make some more visits to the doctor, but he is expected to be fine,” Moser said.

However, he warned that because neither pit bull had been vaccinated for rabies or other diseases, the child and his grandmother may face a series of rabies vaccinations.

The two dogs, cited for not having tags or vaccinations, were surrendered to animal control and will remain under quarantine for 10 days. At the end of the quarantine, Moser said, “They will be properly taken care of by the direction of the Virginia State Code.”

He said Pender, the owner of the pit bulls, said she had raised both dogs from puppies.

“They are very jealous of her, but she has never had any complaints from any of the neighbors about her dogs being aggressive,” the chief warden said.

“Dogs have the temperament and mentality of a 4-year-old child,” he added. “One minute they can be happy, and the next minute they can turn. We don’t have any idea what made them resort to what they did.”

Moser encourages all cat and dog owners to make sure their animals have tags and are vaccinated.

“This child and grandmother could possibly have to take rabies shots now, and if the dogs had been vaccinated, this would have been prevented,” Moser said.

Animal Control Officer Andre Claughton investigated the incident.