UPDATE | Mom says insurance will cover medical expenses after pit bull attacks 3-year-old

Published: Dec. 1, 2016 at 11:52 PM EST
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Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The mother of a 3-year-old boy that was attacked by a pit bull has said insurance will cover the medical expenses.

Sherri Guzman said she appeared in court Thursday after her son has had to go through multiple surgeries. Her neighbor's pit bull attacked her 3-year-old son in December 2016.

Guzman said her neighbor will have to appear in court again for final charges but does not know the exact date.

Monday, Jan. 9, 2017

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A court date has been set in the pit bull attack that landed a 3-year-old in the hospital.

The hearing will be on Feb. 9. The judge is expected to set the punishment for the owner of the pit bull.

The child is recovering and his mother said the scars have healed over and they're starting to go outside again.

News 12 NBC 26 News At 6 O'Clock | Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The owner of a pit bull and puppies who attacked a three-year-old in Hephzibah says she's distraught about the horrifying attack.

The owner, through tears, says she's shocked and heartbroken after one of her own dogs attacks and injures especially after adopting the mother just a few months ago.

It's much quieter at what used to be the home of a pit bull and her four puppies, the same dogs involved in an attack that left a three-year-old boy in the hospital.

We spoke with the owner of the 5-year-old pit bull, who declined an on-camera interview. She shared these photos of Betty, the dog she found on the side of Chalk Mine Road in July as Patterson Bridge Road was being rebuilt.

She says she took pity on the clearly-pregnant dog and decided to give her a home. She gave birth to 14 puppies just four days after taking her in, but only four survived. She says she never would have thought that same dog would ever snap and says she's heartbroken for Andrez and his family.

During a recent interview, Andrez Guzman's mother, Sherri, told News 12 NBC 26 she never felt threatened by the dogs but was always prepared.

"About once a day, they would be a loose running around," Guzman says. "And if I saw them coming onto our property, I would scare them off. I kept a stick on the porch just for that purpose."

Sunday afternoon, her son walked down the hill by himself where he was attacked not far from his parents' property line. The dogs got loose after he got too close to their yard, after which the mother attacked the child.

"Obviously as a parent you are going to think, 'Oh I could have done this, Oh I should have called someone about these animals," Guzman says. "Our first priority when we moved to the place should have been to get a really secure fence around our property."

She and her neighbor see it as nothing more than a freak accident, but one they hope never happens again.

"Bad things will happen, accidents do happen," Guzman says. "But it is so important to know that you've put forth every effort to be safe, to take precautions. Whether you are a pet owner or a parent."

The incident report shows the owner does not want her dogs back and she says she doesn't want a pet that could do that much harm to anyone else.

The dogs are still being quarantined at Augusta Animal Services. They're being processed for rabies and to see if they're fit to be given to another owner, which will be done sometime next week.

We'll let you know what the decision is when the process is done.

News 12 NBC 26 News At 11 | Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A three-year-old is preparing for his fourth surgery after a pit bull wanders into a family's back yard and attacks him. His family is devastated, but is hopeful this almost tragic incident will serve as a reminder for both parents and pet owners alike.

"It's awful. I want to forget. You know, it's one of those things I'll never be able to forget."

A day of playing outside turns into a nightmare for Sherri Guzman.

She and her husband were inside their Raborn Road home in Hephzibah Sunday afternoon, worn out from a day of playing ball with their three-year-old son Andrez. The back door was propped open, giving their energetic son enough room to run inside when he decided his day of playing was done.

Their quiet Sunday afternoon would soon turn to chaos when they heard cries coming from the backyard.

"Together we stepped towards the door and we heard dogs growling and we heard a lady screaming for help," Guzman says. "We run around the corner of the house and about 30 feet from our the corner of our home, we saw a bunch of dogs jumping around and the neighbor lady was letting him off the ground."

She says the next thing she saw is the single-most traumatizing sight she's ever seen - her three-year-old son bleeding profusely from his head. She recalls several deep, gruesome cuts to her son's face close to his left ear and an everlasting sound from her injured son.

"He kept saying, 'Mama, I've got blood on me.' And I could see his head was covered with deep cuts," Guzman says. "There was part of his skull showing in multiple places and his nasal cavity was open, I could see into his nose. And at that moment, I thought I had lost my boy."

After a life-saving cranial surgery, hundreds of stitches and five days worth of prayers, Andrez and his family are still at the Children's Hospital of Georgia in Augusta. Guzman, a stay-at-home mom, says she'll be staying next to her son's side until they leave for home. She told me before the interview it had been her first time outside since Sunday night.

We talked about the dangers of letting pets prone to aggressive behaviors wander, but also about the importance parents should put on watching their children.

She wanted to remind pet owners the dogs they know can be sweet and cuddly. But when their animal instincts kick in around strangers or if they feel threatened, you never know what can happen.

"It is easy to just get really comfortable," Guzman says, "and we think, 'Well, these animals have never growled at us, therefore they are not dangerous to us.' But that's not the case and we learned that the hard way."

She's also hoping other parents will be reminded that constantly keeping an eye on your growing child might save their life one day.

"They will be saved," Guzman says, "from having to watch their child suffer like we have watched our son suffer."

But for now, she's grateful to hold her son close in her arms. Whether it's in a hospital bed or his own at home, she says she'll be watching and holding him closer after nearly losing him for good.

Guzman says Andrez will be going through his fourth surgery before the end of the week, but doctors believe he'll be okay. They're hoping to be out of the hospital by early next week.

An incident report shows the pit bull and her four puppies were all involved in the attack and remain quarantined by Augusta Animal Control. State law requires dogs involved in attacks must be quarantined for 10 days to be checked for rabies.

It is not sure yet if any of the dogs will be put down following the attack. The incident report shows the mother does not want the mother pit bull to be returned to her control following the 10 days, but it does not list anything about the puppies.

A court date has been set for Guzman and her neighbor, but it is not sure yet if the owner will face any charges.

We'll keep you updated as this story develops.