My Son Survived a Dog Attack: Tips from a Mom Who Learned the Hard Way

By: Tracy Fain, Mom

I want to begin by saying I’ve always been a “dog person.” It is not my intention to instill undue fear through the sharing of my family’s story, as I’m very much aware of the joy pets can add to a home.

It is, however, my hope that our experience will inspire parents and dog owners to exercise great caution when kids and dogs mix—no matter how well you know the dog or how comfortable the child is around dogs.

Our 7-year-old son, Ethan, grew up playing in his grandma’s yard where he could run through the grass, swing from the old oak tree and play with the neighbor’s dogs.


But on Christmas Eve, while Ethan was hanging from his knees on a tree at the edge of the yard, those same dogs grabbed him by his jacket and dragged him over the fence, where they attacked him, biting his face, neck and body.

A mom knows that haunting sound; the kind of wail that clearly says “this is not just a scrape” and sends a chill up your spine.

My husband and I rushed outside to find a horrifying sight—our son on the opposite side of the fence at the mercy of the dogs.

My husband says I didn’t just climb the fence, I cleared it. My maternal instinct kicked in, and I had to get my boy back.

Our sweet boy was bloodied, with one ear hanging off and the other gone. His body was covered in bite marks, and he was in and out of consciousness.

Ethan was taken by ambulance to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where he received 300 stitches on his face, neck, chest, back, arms and legs. Surgeons were able to reattach his left ear, and they sewed his right ear into his belly to see if it will grow tissue in hopes of future reattachment.


Ethan is currently receiving outpatient rehabilitation and will continue to have reconstructive surgery for the next two years. He’s also working with a psychologist to combat panic attacks, anxiety and night terrors resulting from the traumatic incident.

We’ll never know what got into those dogs, but I’m thankful to still have my son and the opportunity for a full recovery. He must have had a guardian angel sitting on his shoulder.

I encourage you to read these tips, remember our story and share this with the parents and dog owners in your life.

Prevent a dog attack

  • Parents should supervise all interactions between children and dogs.
  • Babies, toddlers and young children should never be left alone with a dog.
  • Parents should educate their children on how to behave around dogs. Never approach a dog you don’t know, even if the dog is on a leash.
  • If you are attacked, give the dog an object, such as a jacket or tote to bite. If you are knocked down, roll yourself into a ball and lie still. Cover your head and face with your hands.
  • Never scream at or run from a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping or tending to puppies.
  • If a bite occurs, the child should be seen by a doctor, no matter how minor the injury.