This was the cover of the Trentonian paper today. I don't get this paper but I couldn't help but notice as I drove passed a paper machine this morning
These headlines are popping up everywhere in NJ lately!
By JOE D’AQUILA
BRISTOL TWP., Pa. -- A 5-year-old girl was severely injured yesterday after two pit bulls attacked her when she opened the wrong apartment door in a Levittown complex.
The victim, Asia Waldington, was transported by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, where she was being treated last night for the multiple bite wounds on her face and body.
The mauling took place shortly after 4 p.m. in the 900 building of the Marion Village Apartments, off of Edgley Road.
Waldington was in stable condition last night and Bristol Animal Control officers were sent to the complex to remove the pit bulls from the apartment.
As of last night, Bristol police had not said if any criminal charges were going to be filed in the incident.
Shortly after the incident Bristol Township Sgt. Sean Cosgrove said the two animals had done considerable damage.
"She has some pretty substantial injuries," Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove said the attack took place when the 5-year-old, who was visiting her grandmother, went to the wrong apartment door.
Thinking it was her grandmother’s apartment, the girl opened the unlocked door and was quickly set upon by the dogs.
Cosgrove said both dogs were involved in the attack, and that the dogs’ owners, brothers Joe and Robert Taylor, were not home at the time.
He said the Taylor brothers’ mother, Linda Stebbins, was home and was injured herself as she tried to separate the dogs from the girl.
Outside the dog owners’ second-floor apartment, drying blood smeared the hallway walls.
A tiny red plaque that read, "Beware of Dog," hung on the door above the apartment number, a plaque that meant nothing to a confused 5-year-old.
Shortly after the attack, Stebbins answered her door still wearing a pink shirt that was nearly covered with the reddish brown stain of blood -- either hers or Waldington’s or both.
Though neighbors said they had heard her say she felt horrible about the incident and planned to visit the girl in the hospital, Stebbins declined to comment.
"I don’t want this in the paper," she said, as she closed the door.
Waldington’s grandmother Cindy Erhard was still at the complex after Waldington was flown to the hospital, and she described the events as she knew them, including her granddaughter’s gruesome appearance after she was mauled.
"The one cheek, it was like everything was pulled out, the whole cheek," Erhard said.
She said the 5-year-old had been bitten on her face, head, hip, back and shoulders.
"I saw teeth marks on her shoulders," she said. "I’m thinking one (dog) had her from the front and one (dog) had her from the back."
Erhard said she had actually just finished moving in to the Marion Village apartment the night before.
She said her 6 year-old and 10-year-old sons were outside playing with, and keeping an eye on Waldington and two of her other grandchildren, aged 3 and 4, just before the attack.
"My boys was out there watching the littler ones, making sure they stayed on the grounds and stuff," she said.
Erhard said Waldington decided to come inside by herself and mistakenly stopped on the second floor of the building instead of continuing to the third floor where her grandmother lived.
"She just came up on her own," she said. "I mean she’s a little bigger, she can come up and down the steps."
Erhard said Stebbins wasn’t in her apartment when Waldington opened the door, but had left the apartment to visit with a neighbor, leaving the dogs unattended and the door unlocked.
She said it appeared that Stebbins heard the dogs barking and went back to investigate.
After finding the dogs mauling Waldington, Erhard said Stebbins at that point tried to get the dogs off of their victim and was injured herself in the process.
She said Stebbins told her that she covered Waldington with her own body and yelled down the hall for help with keeping the dogs at bay.
Another woman, Erhard said, came from the floor below with Christmas wrapping paper tubes that she and Stebbins used to beat the dogs back.
It was her son that Erhard said alerted the rest of the family to the attack.
"I heard my 10-year-old son come in and he was hysterical," she said. "The way his voice was, I knew something was wrong."
But from what Erhard could gather from her excited child, she had assumed that her granddaughter had been hurt by falling down or something more mundane, and didn’t imagine the grisly scene that was playing out one floor below.
She said she then yelled to her daughter Vicky Erhard, Waldington’s mother, and told her to go get her.
They brought Waldington into their apartment and called out for people to dial 911.
"When she first came in she was screaming," Erhard said of her granddaughter.
She said Waldington’s pain and fear from her injuries soon gave way to the fear of going to the hospital, but said the EMTs did a good job of calming her down.
Erhard said that later, after everyone left for the hospital, Stebbins came to her to apologize.
"She said, ‘Cindy, I don’t blame you if you hold this against me,’" Erhard said. "I said don’t be upset, it’s one of those freak things that happens."
Erhard said that she doesn’t feel animosity toward Stebbins for letting the incident happen, though she said she feels that if she was going to leave two pit bulls unattended, she should have locked her door.
"It’s not her fault," she said. "She didn’t tell those dogs to attack."
She said though, that she doesn’t think her daughter Vicky is going to be so tolerant and has already been talking about getting a lawyer, and the grandmother’s sympathies don’t extend to the pit bulls themselves.
"I want the dogs killed," she said. "I want them to be put to sleep."
Erhard said later that Stebbins told her that the dogs were going to be put down, and she described what she saw, from afar, as Animal Control Officers took the beasts out of the apartment.
"They had blood all over them -- like their chest," she said. "One had blood on his tongue. That must have been the one that got the meat."
Erhard said that in general, she doesn’t think pit bulls should be kept as pets.
"I don’t think that they should have them," she said. "They’re known to be a threat, a threat to be fighting dogs and it’s in their blood."
And as for her own, or her daughter’s culpability in the attack, Erhard said she felt there was nothing wrong with allowing the 5-year-old Waldington outside to play under the supervision of other children.
"A 5-year-old really can be outside," she said. "She’s very intelligent."
She stressed that Waldington wasn’t alone, with her sons watching, and said that she and her daughter had also been periodically checking in on the kids.
"A 10-year-old is pretty responsible," she said of her son who was watching Waldington as she played outside.
Erhard punctuated her belief in her parenting skills with a challenge to all critics.
"If anybody wants to come up in my face and say something, they can deal with me when they open their mouth," she said. "I don’t feel we were wrong letting the kids out, right out in front of our apartment."
©The Trentonian 2006