He seems a little young to be a hero, but six-year-old Vincent Barrick showed grown-up courage when he grabbed the collar of an attacking Pit Bull and kept the dog from further injuring his friend.
On Sunday, in St. George, Utah, two young boys were taking their usual shortcut through a neighbor's yard when a dog chained on the property suddenly charged and attacked six-year-old Juan Argumedo.
The Pit Bull had Juan pinned under him and his face was in the dog’s mouth.
"We heard screaming, blood-curdling screams," said Kevin Barrick, Vincent’s grandfather.
"I could see Vincent standing there holding up on the dog's collar, pulling, almost standing on his tippy toes, pulling as hard as he could," Kevin said.
Kevin then ran over and also grabbed the dog’s collar and tried to lift the Pit Bull off of Juan, but the dog would not release the boy.
"Juan was being pulled up with him," he said. "He still had a hold of Juan's face."
"My grandson said that the dog kept trying to drag Juan underneath the motor home," Kevin remarked. "If he could have got Juan there he would have shook him back and forth like a ragdoll and shredded him."
Kevin said he finally hit the Pit Bull in the face, and the dog released Juan, who was able to escape. It was only when the paramedics arrived that the extent and severity of Juan's injuries became known.
When they cut his shorts off him and revealed his leg, his mom nearly passed out.
Kevin said that the bite to Juan's upper leg exposed the bone.
Juan's father, Silvano Castillo, says his son underwent hours of surgery to suture puncture wounds to the cheek, chin, torso and leg. The most serious bite on the upper leg will require additional surgeries.
The family calls Vincent a hero and is grateful he didn't run away when the Pit Bull started attacking Juan.
The black and white Pit Bull is under a 10-day quarantine at St. George Animal Shelter. The dog’s owner reminded the families that the boys were in her yard.
Kevin says the dog's owner told the boys it was okay to use the shortcut as long as they stayed close to the fence because the dog's chain didn't reach that far.
A decision will be made later if the dog will be euthanized. No citations have been issued against the dog's owner.
Sergeant Sam Despain with the St. George Police Department, said, "We'll review the case, along with the county attorneys, to see if there is criminal negligence of any kind."
Kevin believes the attack on Juan would have been fatal if Kevin had not fought to save him.
"He's got a big heart," Kevin said about Vincent, "He said, I wasn't going to run ‘cause I didn't want my friend to get hurt anymore so I was doing what I could to stop the dog from biting him anymore.'"