In late 2014, 7-year-old Malachi Smith was attacked by his neighbor’s pit bull in Union County, North Carolina. Although Malachi survived, he was left with scars on his face and his family had to pay more than $40,000 in medical bills.
While Malachi’s family is now locked in a legal battle with the dog’s owners, it is also pushing for broader changes.
The family told Fox 46 Charlotte that the property owners and the renters who owned the dog were aware the dog was sometimes aggressive before it charged Malachi and his mother.
(Photo of Malachi Smith after pit bull mauled him. Photo Credit: Fox 46)
The nearby town of Pineville in Mecklenburg County is considering laws that would ban dogs from being chained or tethered in front or side yards, but Union County Commissioner Richard Helms believes similar ordinances wouldn’t work for Union County, which is a rural area.
Helms noted that dogs are often used for security and hunting, and restrictions would unfairly punish owners who have trained their pets. Union County currently doesn’t have any leashing laws on record.
Malachi’s grandmother, Ernestine Staton, said her family doesn’t blame the attack on the dog’s breed. Although a five-year study on pediatric dog bites by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found 51 percent of attacks were from pit bulls, Staton said the dog wasn’t raised well. She claims the dog was chained to a tree when it broke free and attacked.
"Children are being bit and killed every day because we have to wait until the dog attacks and then we do something about it,” Staton told Fox 46.
The dog who attacked Malachi was euthanized.