8-Year-Old Recovering From Dog Attack

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — An 8-year-old boy is recovering from an attack that required dozens of stitches.

Aharon Atlas says a large dog bit him in St. Paul last week and city leaders say this encounter should serve as a reminder for parents and dog owners.

“I got in the ambulance and I was rushed to the hospital and went to the ER and they put some gel on my eye and put some eye drops in there,” Atlas said.

Atlas only weighs 90 pounds. His mom says a female dog named Spirit, which weighs 120 pounds, attacked Atlas when he entered the downstairs apartment where the dog lives.

Atlas has more than 50 small stitches in his face, but says he feels OK. He had this advice for other kids.

“When you go up to a dog, you always have to be aware of what might happen, so brace yourself,” he said.

Spirit’s owners say she is a gentle dog with kids in their family. They are afraid the dog might be put down when the city finishes its investigation of the incident.

“The dog plays with the baby,” said Sarah Wilhelm, daughter of the dog owner. “The dog will come let me know if the baby is crying.”

Wilhelm said whatever happens, the family wants to avoid putting the dog down.

“It’s about saving her life at this point,” she said. “My mom doesn’t necessarily want her any more, it’s just to the point of saving her life. We don’t want her put down.”

The city will keep Spirit in quarantine for 10 days and she may be released back to the family with requirements like micro-chipping, a fenced yard or a muzzle.

“Any dog can have problems. It’s all about being a responsible pet owner,” said Angie Wiese from the City of St. Paul.

Atlas and his mom both say they do not want Spirit to live in their building ever again.

  • EH

    Keep your kids on a leash. I am so sick and tired of hearing about animals that are being threatened to be put down because of irresponsible people letting their kids around animals that are not their own. The article states that the boy went into the apartment where the dog lives, how about you stay out of that apartment and in your own. And the nerve the people have to say they don’t ever want the dog to live in the apartment again is unbelievable. Dog’s are unpredictable. Parents, do your job and watch your children.

    • Amber

      This dog is one of the sweetest dogs you would ever met, and has never ever went after another dog!!!!

      • Amber

        I meant any children ever!!!!

        • bluefaery

          My daycare providers dog was the sweetest, nicest dog you could ever met and it would never, ever, ever hurt anyone …
          until the day it ripped off half of my face … I was 5 I am now 30 and still don’t have a dog … I have a cat that I watch like a hawk around all of my children

    • jld

      Agree 110%!

    • JM

      EH – You are right on!!!!

    • Superchik1017

      Right on!

    • disgusted

      I agree. Parents dont make their kids responsible for anything they do. I am going through a situation very similiar to this. However, the child is my 8 year old granddaughter who was warned not to play with my mamlamute. My malamute is not vicious. She’s never bit anyone, up to this point. Not even a growl. But when my grand kids come over , she seems a little nervouse, so I always put her in a separate room. But the other day when the grand kids came, i left here in the house while we were outside talking and playing. My granddaughter decided to run in teh house for something and instead of doing what she claimed she was going to do, she dedcided to go and pet my sleeping dog. The action startled my dog and she nipped her in the face. She had two small puncture wounds on her face. My daughter took her to the doctors, who told her it would be fine. But daughter and son-in-law are telling me that they feel they should report it. That the authorities may come and take my dog. Possibly putting her to sleep. I dont get it. My dog didnt do anything wrong. I dont know what to do. Of course Im the bad guy becasue I’m sticking up for the dog

  • Larson

    how many more children have to be killed or injured to have a tighter regulation on dogs and their owners.
    I see owners who don’t train their dogs, he let them outside without a leash.
    dogs run to me everyday, and their owners expect me to do nothing.

    • Amber

      He entered her home, not the other way around. People are getting the story mixed up here. These people have lived around spirit for the last 3 years, as a matter of fact right across the street. Until they moved upstairs from her within the last year. Spirit never went after him before!!!!

    • jld

      Who let who out without a leash? The story clearly staes the child entered the apt where the dog lived.

    • Lady

      What kind of regulations do you want on an animal in its own home? Dogs outside, unleashed, and running up to you are a totally different subject. I agree there are a lot of irresponsible owners but fewer of them than irresponsible parents.

  • jld

    stuff missing from this story….lots of stuff; who let the kid in? Has the dog ever bit anyone else? What was the kid doing when he walked into the apt? It’s “missing pieces” to stories like this that help give breeds like Spirits a bad name.

    • Amber

      As I have said. These people have been around for the past 3 years. His mother is good friends with spirits owner!!!

      • bluefaery

        Amber – what stake do you have with this dog ??
        Is this your family pet … want to leave your babies unattended around this dog? I was around the dog that bite me for years as well … I didn’t do anything to the dog and was playing in the fenced in yard as I had done 5 days a week for years when it came at me out of no where

        • amber

          Spirit is my friends dog. And my child has been around her for the past 2 years. Spirit has never bitten anyone or anything. She dont attack things ever! She is the sweetest kindest dog you will ever meet. I would leave my child around her because she is a protecter not a vicious pet. And this boy came to close for comfort to the baby that is why she bit him. Dogs are protective of there family. All she was doing was protecting the baby!

          • bluefaery

            great so the next time your kids are “mean” to this killer in waiting and it rips your kids face off i want you to remember that this sweet loving dog wasn’t at fault it was your sadistic offspring that should be put down

            • FriendlyReminder

              Is something wrong with you???? I mean come on really?? Talking about peoples children that way??? Are you retarted bluefaery??? She is telling in every post that the dog is to blame and your acting like she is blaming this child. I mean have some common sense, grow up. It was a freak accident. The dog is to blame for it she knows you know it every knows it. All she seems to be saying is that the dog shouldnt be put down, which makes perfect sense since she can be trained properly.

    • Jason

      I agree, not enough information. Weak reporting at best.

  • EH

    I own a pitbull which is the most hated dog in the country and I am beyond responsible with my dog. I call animal control on my neighbors if I see their dogs off of their leashes which happens too frequently. When I’m out walking my licensed, on a correct collar and leash dog, children will often run up to my dog like they have no common sense. Parents need to take responsibility for their children the same way pet owners need to for their pets, especially dogs. Children and animals cannot protect themselves, that’s what parents and pet owners are there to do.

    • jld

      My son is almost 17 we have ownef dogs for over 5 yrs but I STILL remind him to ask before approaching; I have taught him this from day one – no exceptions! It keeps ALL involved safe.

  • Kaz

    My initial response was,” hardly ever do dogs bite with no apparent reason.” There usually is a relationship that has negatively developed in the past. Either this child has negatively treated this animal previously, or the child unwittingly mimicked a similar situation that this dog responded to. BOTH parties are at fault. Parents, teach your kids some manners. I do not care how well you get along with family, friends or neighbors, you need to teach your child to keep themselves from harm if you are unable to help them. Dog owners, your dogs are your children as well, but their only line of defense is to protect themselves if you cannot. So either parties supervise interactions or separate them. I am an owner of a wolf hybrid who was socialized and trained from day one, she went onto become a therapy dog. If a 50% or greater wolf content dog can do it, so can every other breed out there. I don’t care if it’s a “Rott” a “Pit” or a “yapper dog,” owners, work with your dogs. And my human child, knows HOW to approach ANY DOG. It’s the least I can do for her and them!!!!

  • tony

    watch your kids! Where were the parents of that kid? Keep your stupid hands to yourself!

  • stef

    Lots of details are missing. ESPECIALLY WHAT WAS GOING ON PRIOR TO THE BITE, that is why they are still investigating the situation. Sometimes even the right approach you still get bit. I got bit by a poodle when I was kid. LIke my parents tought me and my child hood friends mother, slow, put my hand out for the dog to smell it, and I still got bit, but WE as a family understood that this happens and that the dog should not be put down. Kids are for surely their parents responsibility, but so are the dog owners no matter the breed. I have a dog who is very skittish around new people, and when kids come running up to me with him, i yell at them to slow down, he gets scared. I make him sit and tell them to go slow and not pet his head as that is where I am controlling him. He loves attention, once you pet him, he wont let you stiop, but strangers make him nervous and may nip, which I am aware of and watch for not only with others but my child. Owners give dogs bad reputations, and some parents lack good parenting skills…..a drop in the bucket in both parts….

  • Pete

    Over 1000 serious dog bites PER DAY nationwide according to hospital emergency room stats. Mostly involving children. I don’t have a solution, but 70 million dogs – and growing – in this country is incredible. Some day, we’ll have to make some tough decisions licensing and stiff fines for a biting dog.

    • jld

      how about stiff fines for parents that don’t teach their children how to approach (or not) dogs of any kind? My child has been taught from day one that he MUST NEVER approach a dog without the owners permission and on top of that should never get down to eye level of the dog; certainly that is different with our own dogs as we know them well and are more than confident they won’t hurt us, but I NEVER, EVER allow children to approach them without making them sit and instructing the child to pet on the back. So many times kids will run up to my dogs and try to jump on them or “attack” them and the parents think it’s cute and then get mad at me when I yell at their kids.
      Really? I’m not only trying to make sure my “kids” stay safe, but I’m trying to do your job as well so I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be mad at me. Sorry Pete…sounds like a rant at you, but it’s not and I apologize.

  • Sam I am.

    The little boy went to play with another kid that lived in that apartment. There is no way this dog should be allowed near children.

    You tell me that children can’t go to a friends and play anymore.

    Put the d@mn dog down.

    • Amber

      No he wasnt . it wasnt an apartment it was a duplex and there are no children his age there.

      • Kaz

        Thus all the MORE reason for that kid to be there….

        • Kaz

          I meant NOT TO BE THERE.

          • Amber

            The funny thing is, they lived across the street forever!!! And been around since spirit was a puppy she never went after a child ever!!!! My son has been there numerous times!!!! And she never went after him!!!! And he was mean to her!!!!

    • jld

      And how do you know this Sam I am? You were there? There’s a part of the story you know that hasn’t been told? Even IF the child DID go to the apt to play with another kid, this dog (although the story isn’t clear) apparently has no history of harming anyone let alone children. In most cases dogs DO NOT attack unless provoked or if they feel threatened. That can happen no matter the breed…
      The parents of the child need to take responsibility as well; children should NEVER approach any dog that isn’t theirs, especially when they are on the dogs “property”. And parents of young children should ALWAYS escort them to a house where dogs live…just to be sure EVERYONE is safe.

    • Down on Sam

      What an easy fix put the dog down, the dog only did what it is suppose to do and that is to protect its home and family. If the kid knew that the dog lived there then he may have wanted to make sure before entereing the apartment of a home of a dog. I was bit by two different dogs when growing up and all they did was make sure they had there shots so no one get sick. Today it is all about the hot news story and how to put the dog down and pay pay pay pay someone needs to pay!!!! Hello people wake up! Its all about EDUCATION and COMMUNICATION!

  • Mel

    Pitbull, Pekingese, Poodle, they are all the same. My sister was attacked by a pekingese when she was young (she was just trying to pet it) and I was attacked by a poodle. (I was trying to kiss it) Either way, the dogs felt threatened so they attacked. I would bet that it was the same for this dog. I agree that children need to be taught to respect a dog’s space and to approach them a certain way. The dog in this story was raised around children and according to the owners daughter was gentle and kind. Also the dog bit the boy but did not viciously attack him. I think that there are some key facts missing from this story.

    • Amber

      My son is 4 and has done some bad things to spirit, from biting, kicking, pulling ears, poking her in the eyes and spirit has never once went after my son.

    • Superchik1017

      Really? Did you have permission to kiss the dog? Did your sister have permission to pet the Pekingese? It’s not the dogs fault. It’s afraid of you. It can’t tell you it’s afraid.

      • Mel

        Read my comment again, I said that the dogs felt threatened. I also stated that they each bit not attacked each of us. I wasnt blaming them.

      • Mel

        You are also missing my whole point; the dog must have felt threatened in order to bite the boy. I am not blaming the dog or the owner or even the little boy. I am stating that this dog was raised around children, has no history of being mean and obviously was provoked or set off by something or someone in order to lash out at this boy. All around it is a sad story and I hope that all involve can come up with a solution that works for everyone. (just to be clear that does NOT involve putting the dog down)

  • H.P.

    I am so glad to hear all the comments sticking up for the dog. People do need to teach their children how to approach dogs, whether its one they know or one that is strange to them. Its like the people who sit their children near a tiger to take a picture and get upset cuz the tiger bit their child. I own dogs that have been trained to put up with anything done to them yet I still watch them closely when someone else is in the house. You never know if they will get spooked and react they only way they know how.

  • Melanie

    Hopefully the investigation will provide some clarity, but try to keep things in perspective. We are talking about a child. I’ve read comments on some of these wcco articles where people make every excuse in the book for adults making mistakes, from driving drunk to texting while driving. Here we have a little boy who will be scarred for life, and all you people can do is blame the little boy. So, unless he broke into
    the apt, attacked the tenants or the dog, he did
    not deserve to be attacked. I am confounded that some would value an animal more than a person, especially a child. If the child was allowed and invited into the home, it is the dog owner’s responsibility to make sure their guests are safe. You can’t expect a child to know how to avoid an attack by a dog. The undertones in these comments are clearly blaming the child, the child’s parents; everyone except the dog. A dog will usually give a warning nip if it feels threatened, not rip apart a face. Did no one see the pictures of this boys injuries before he got stitched up?

    • Amber

      The dog was protecting the baby however, so technically she did have an excuse. He should not of came that close to the baby in spirits home.+

      • Melanie

        Did anyone tell the little boy not to go near the baby? I babysat for a family whose dog bit me while I tried to help the little girl out of bed. The same excuse was told to me; the dog was trying to protect the little girl. 6 months later that same dog attacked the son in the family (5 years old), and ripped his face apart too. Never trust a dog that has bitten someone.

        • Amber

          This dog has never went after any other child or children OR any animal or anything… That is no excuse, she is merely protecting her family. The child had to provoke her in order for her to bite that child.

          • lynnsmnth

            I understand what you are saying. Shouldnt we just say that this was a tragic accident—–let the dog live—-and feel bad for the child???????????
            I dont think the dog should be punished, but, you are way to glad that the little boy got bit in the face.

            I am a little worried about you.

            If you dont have kids, then you will never understand how hard it is to watch one of your children hurt, and all you can do is pray that everything is going to be ok.

            • amber

              I am not glad that the boy was bit in the face what so ever, no child should have to endure being bit by a dog. However, everyone is acting like the dog is a dangerous vicious beast and she is not. I do have children which have been around spirit for the last two years. As I have stated in earlier posts, my child has done some mean things to this dog and yet she still licks him in the face everytime we go over there. I can understand the frustrations of the parent ok, I would be pissed if my kid got bit. But the whole moral of it is that spirit should not be put to sleep for protecting her own. As any dog would do.

        • Amber

          This family has been in the neighborhood since spirit was a puppy… Then moved upstairs. Have lived up stairs for a considerate amount of time. He had to of provoked her in that way. Even if he put his hand near her she would not bite nor nip him. She was not trained to be viscious. She is a sweet natured dog… I could understand if the dog had bite someone prior to this but she didnt. Yet she dont deserve to be put to sleep for protecting the baby!!!

      • Emily

        Dogs that size can seriously injure someone, and it the owner’s responsibility to be sure they a.) train their dog properly so they don’t act out aggressively and b.) observe the dog so that they can do their best to prevent injuries to visitors in their home.

    • Amber

      It is not the childs fault what so ever!!! But the dog only bit him once, not continually attacked this child. He entered her home. She was being protectective of the baby!!! There is no excuse for the dog biting this poor child, but she dont deserve to die for protecting her own!!!!

  • Superchik1017

    That’s not fair! According to the report, the child entered the dogs territory. The dog wasn’t on the loose, wandering the neighborhood. It’s not the dogs fault that the child “entered the downstairs apartment where the dog lives.” Where were the child’s parents? Didn’t they teach him not to wander into other people’s apartments? Poor dog. It’s only trying to protect its owner’s and home. It would be increadibly sad if they put him down because of the the negligence of this child’s parent.

    • Amber

      Exactly. I feel the frustrations of his mom. Ok. And spirits owner as she said at this point, just wants spirit not to get put to sleep. She has never been a dangerous dog. She has always been a sweet loving dog. And this boy has lived in the neighborhood for numerous years. Before they moved upstairs. He had to do something in order for spirit to bite him. Which is what she did, bite him- not continuouslly attack this child. If you heard sarah in the news spirit is protective of the baby. He came to close to comfort for the baby and spirit bit him! All everyone is asking is not to put her to sleep! She dont deserve to die, by doing what her instincts are! She is a great dog and a wonderful friend, not only to her owner and their children, but to me, my son and numerous other friends and family!!!!

  • lynnsmnth

    I see both sides to this. However, I just cant have the same view as most of you. If I am reading your posts right, most of you are saying that the boy deserved to be mangled by the dog, and that the boy is getting what he deserved. I do not think that the dog should be put to sleep, but, I also will never say that a little child needs to have his face bit, just because he went to an apartment, where he was always welcome to go before.
    I agree with the fact that the dog was not running loose, and had no history of biting before; so therefore should not be punished……..
    But, I also think that the boy should not be maimed for life just because most of you like the dog, and not the boy. Shouldnt we just say that this was a tragic accident???????
    I hope none of my children ever get hurt, or need emergency medical attention, aroung most of you…..My guess is, whatever happened to my child….you would blame the child, and say they got what they deserved, so, you dont have to get them any help for their injuries…….

    • amber

      No child is to blame for getting bit by a dog!!!! You are blowing it way out of proportion. No one ever blamed the child for anything!!!! I love children, and never said that he should be maimed for life. Its not just the dog owners responsibilty its also the parents to teach their children about dogs and what dogs can dop, even if they are the sweetest dogs. Children are always innocent. But the boy had to done something to provoke spirit. She only bit him once not continously, like everyone is trying to say. The little boy was not mangled only bit one time. Yes, he has stitches in his face. Ok, Like i said i understand the frustrations involving a child becausae i would be pissed if my kid was bit by a dog. Its like the same concept if a child bites someone do they deserve to be put to sleep??? No thats in human. So it happens one time and every one says put the dog to sleep forget that thats also inhumane. If my posts sound that bad, it is not meant the way you are taking it. I care about that child and i hope his scars and pain will go away. but the thing of it is that the dog dont deserve to be put to sleep over this.

  • Gloria

    I certainly hope that Spirit is not put down, and I also hope the little boy has a full recovery with little scarring, if any.

    Everyone needs to be responsible in situations such as these. I believe Spirit was just reacting to some type of occurrence which may be a mystery to everyone, but clearly, if this is the first time she has bitten anyone, she shouldn’t be euthanized.

    • lynnsmnth

      Thank you.

      Finally someone who can see both sides of things.

      I was getting a little worried…..I also think that Spirit should not be put down, because she did what was natural to her, and she was in her own home.

      Plus, like you, (and not the others here), I also hope the boy is going to be ok. He probably does not know what he did to provoke the attack…especially if he just got too close to the baby. Either way, I disagree with everyone else, but, I do not think that he should have been bit…and I do feel bad for him.

      This is just an accident, and there is no winners…
      (yes, Amber, no winners….we should not be happy that a child got hurt) (try to understand this concept.)

      • Dog Lover

        I didn’t read any comment that directly stated someone was “happy” the little boy got hurt and I really don’t think anyone is happy that the boy was bitten. However, we, as humas, are supposed to be the superior species. Therefore, as parents, it is your responsibility to educate your children. Children need to be taught how to act around animals. After all, they are animals. Spirit doesn’t have the mental capacity to look at a child and think “Hmmm…that’s a child and he doesn’t know what he’s doing so I shouldn’t bite him.” An animal’s first instinct is self preservation.

        In no way am I saying I’m “happy” the little boy was hurt but, with no previous record of violence, Spirit doesn’t deserve to pay the ultimate price for an uneducated child.

      • amber

        what the hell are you talking about, i am not happy that a child got bit, again you are taking my words out of context and making up your own version of it.

  • Amy

    Way too many of you are blaming this boy without having good information about what happened before the bite.

    It doesn’t sound like this dog is normally a biter, but that does NOT automatically mean that the child did something wrong or deliberately provoked her. There may have been an event that prompted her to bite, but it may not have been obvious to anyone but the dog. Maybe she was ill.

    I hope the dog isn’t put down, but I can understand a mother not wanting a dog who mauled her child to stay in the buildlng and I can understand a child not wanting to live near a dog that bit him. It’s perfectly natural.

    By the way, some dogs attack children even when the child is behaving properly. My mom raised me not to touch strange dogs without persmission and to keep my face out of a dog’s reach, but I was still bitten by a neighbor’s dog (on the leg, not the face, and not seriously) for doing nothing but come in the house.

    Even well-trained dogs can be unpredictable, so it is unfair to assume that any child who is bit by a dog did something wrong.

  • jld

    Actually I blamed the parents of the child NOT the child.

    • Amy

      I don’t think it’s right to blame anyone, there’s not enough information about what happened.You don’t know that he wasn’t taught how to act around a dog. That was my point.

      A parent can’t actually prevent a dog from attacking their kid, even if they are present and even if they’ve taught the child what not to do around dogs. My mom was standing right next to me when I was bitten by a dog, as was the dog’s owner. It happened too quickly for anyone to react. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it was an accident.

      • amber

        Just as this is, its a tragic accident and I hope that the child is ok!!! I didnot blame this child what so ever for him getting bit, i merely stating that he was too close for comfort with the baby!!! And no child deserve to get bit. The whole thing for us is that we dont spirit put to sleep. And its completely understandable that the mother doesnt want her back in the house. I would be that way too. ANd the owner of the dog isnt saying hey give me dog back, she is at the point of saying please dont put my dog to sleep. She is a good dog and deserves a second chance……..

  • amber

    Let me clarify what IM saying. I never said that I didnt care about that child, and I never said that the child deserved to get bit. Also, I never blamed him also. I am simply saying that the child had to provoke the dog in order for her to attack. She is a sweet dog. It is not childs fault persay, It is his parents fault that he is not educated about dogs and how they can attack. Also I can understand the parents frustration about this whole accident and nor would i want the dog to come back into the building. I feel bad for the child and I hope that he has a full recovery. My heart goes out to him and his family. As far as Spirit goes we all feel that she shouldnt be put to sleep. It is a first time thing and we hope that she can get the proper training to ensure this never happens again! All anyone wants is for the dog not to be put to sleep.

    • Amy

      And what I was saying is that it is by no means certain that the boy did anything to make Spirit bite him. Dogs can bite with no obvious “provocation” from anyone. She was probably reacting to something, but by saying that she was “provoked” into biting you are implicitly blaming the child and his behavior.
      Standing close to a family member, touching a family member, or entering a room is not provocation, it is normal behavior.

      I agree that it would be sad to have the dog put to sleep. I’m not saying that should happen. I just feel that people are putting too much of the responsibility for this unfortunate incident on the victim.

      • Amber

        By no means am I blaming this child what so ever. What ever provoked spirit to do it, did. Weather it was from the child coming to close or what ever else it might of been. I am not blaming that child. He is 8 years old. It is not his fault. Somehow Spirit was provoked into biting him, though. Otherwise she would not of done it. Children do not understand the same concepts as us, as adults. I am not good with proper words or however you are taking it. I DO NOT BLAME THIS CHILD. SO PLEASE DONT THINK THAT I AM.

  • thommas

    i know that dog was not mean and she would just bite somebody unless you provoked her she is very protective of the baby and the boy who was bit always teased spirit and she was only doing her job as a protector

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