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Pit Bull Attack Leaves 4-Year-Old Hailey Nunez, “Unrecognizable'

A 4-year-old  girl who was viciously mauled by a Pit Bull in San Diego left Rady Children's Hospital and returned home Thursday. Little Hailey Nunez is still recovering from the extensive injuries caused when a 65-pound Pit Bull attacked her in the courtyard of the National City apartment building on Laurel Street where she lives with her family.

Hailey spent the last week at the hospital in San Diego, where she was admitted in serious condition with injuries to her face and upper body, National City Police Lieutenant. Keith Fifield said.

The attack occurred shortly before 10:30 a.m., after the dog’s owner told her mother it was safe for Hailey to pet the dog. When the child walked up to the Pit Bull, it unexpectedly lunged at her, reported. 

“It grabbed her face and started shaking,” Sgt. Julian Villagomez of the National City Police stated. A neighbor beat the dog off with a brick."

"I wanted to die because when I saw her I couldn`t believe what happened,” Hailey’s mother Ruby Nunez said. ”She had deep cuts under her nose, her shoulder and on her face. Her injuries made her almost unrecognizable.”

"At least five guys tried to take the dog away but he wouldn't let go,” said Hailey's uncle, Angel Torres.. “One guy grabbed a rock and hit the dog in the head five times, but he wouldn`t let go.”

Ruby Nunez said her daughter is still frightened to go outside and has trouble sleeping. Hailey is on medication and still has to see the doctor every week and may have to undergo more surgery in the future, Nunez said.

After the attack, the owner of the Pit Bull, 22-year-old Brittany Morgan Gardiner, who also lives in the apartment complex, tried to drive away, police reported.  She was arrested and booked into San Diego County Jail on suspicion of child endangerment, resisting police and allowing a vicious animal to inflict injury.

The dog was impounded and will undergo a rabies quarantine, after which it likely will be euthanized, the Lieutenant said.

Gardiner told officers she gave the little girl permission to pet the Pit Bull because she believed it had no aggressive tendencies, according to Lieutenant Fifield.

“We are so sorry for what happened to poor Haley,” said Sarah Gardiner, the defendant’s cousin. “She [Hailey] knew the dog and she pet the dog more than once, and it’s a shock to all of us.”

Two days after the attack Brittany Morgan Gardiner, 22, was arraigned on one count of having a dangerous dog that caused great bodily injury, which is a felony charge with a maximum sentence of three years. Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb told the court Gardiner might be a flight risk and asked for her bail to remain at $25,000, according to

“After this attack happened, this four-year-old girl is sitting there with her face torn up, bleeding everywhere and the defendant grabbed her dog, went to her apartment gathered her belongings and went to her car," said Loeb, "When the cops got there she was trying to drive away. They stopped her from doing so, but when they did, she admitted that she was headed to Tijuana.”

When Hailey arrived home, National City Police and fire vehicles lined streets of  the neighborhood with red and blue emergency lights flashing to welcome the child., National City police Chief Adolfo Gonzales walked up and handed her a bouquet of balloons and a big bag filled with gifts, according to

He told the little girl, “We’re happy you’re home.” The chief said the officers and others just wanted to make the family know the community supported them.  “We hear such tragic stories of Pit Bull attacks,” Gonzales said.

A National City police officer shot and killed two pit bulls that were running loose near a school the same day that Hailey was attacked, Gonzales said.

The attack on Hailey Nunez occurred just days after  San Diego County Animal Services, San Diego Humane Society and Chula Vista Animal Control kicked off a “Dare to Bull-ieve” adoption special, waiving adoption fees and giving away Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes free to local residents for the month of October. 

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