Colleton Co. toddler bears emotional and physical scars of dog mauling
COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The physical scars on an 18-month-old dog attack victim are healing, but his emotional scars remain.
The toddler was mauled by several dogs in Colleton County in early July. He was treated at MUSC for several severe lacerations to his face, neck, and legs.
Now nearly one month later, his mother, Lynn Boyd, said she still has not gotten her baby back.
“They took away my little boy,” Boyd said. “He’s physically here but mentally, it’s not my baby.”
The previously fun-loving, vivacious toddler now can be angry and aggressive, Boyd said.
“I’ve been hit, punched, bit,” Boyd said. “Some days he’s normal, and some days he has so much output of emotion that he can’t deal with it other than physically.”
She said he is more sensitive to loud noises, too.
“If someone shrieks, he starts screaming, he’ll freak out, and that wasn’t like him before,” Boyd said.
Rochelle Hanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at MUSC, said behavioral changes are not uncommon after a traumatic event like a dog attack.
She said a child may have more fear and anxiety, and experience changes in sleep and appetite.
“They may show it by being angrier, more irritable, or at the other end of the spectrum, they may withdraw,” Hanson said.
In most cases the immediate after-effect will be most severe and should dissipate over time, she said.
She said it’s important for a caregiver to reassure the child that what happened was not their fault and to begin reintroducing them to dogs very slowly.
“Maybe a parent even starts with some pictures of dogs, just so the child can get used to it,” Hanson said. “It’s a very gradual approach to increasing the child’s exposure.”
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