In late January, a 7-year-old was walking home after getting off the school bus when he was randomly attacked by a neighbor’s dog in Azle, Texas.
The dog, which the Parker County Sheriff’s Office described as a “brown and black brindle boxer/bullmastiff mixed-breed,” escaped its fenced yard and started mauling Conner Landers.
Lorena Parker, who lives next door to Conner’s family, heard her own dogs going wild, so she went to find out what was wrong. She opened the door to see Conner being attacked right in front of her house.
When Parker tried to scare off the dog, it lunged at her. She managed to find a large stick and took off after the dog, beating it until it finally dropped the boy.
“I caught him and started beating on the dog,” Parker told WFAA-TV in Dallas. “And then [the dog] drug [Conner] all the way [down the street].”
The poor boy suffered numerous lacerations all over his body. He was bruised and cut and his clothes were bloody.
“Tore up his jacket and his backpack,” said Conner’s mother, Cassandra Ware. “He was wearing a white T-shirt that was completely drenched in blood.
“He just kept saying, ‘The dog used me as a chew toy, Mommy.’”
Ware said Conner spent days in the hospital recovering and now faces physical therapy.
“He underwent more than three hours of surgery to repair nerve damage to his face and to close more than two dozen lacerations on his face, head and body,” she said in a Feb. 8 news release posted by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.
“The doctors anticipate he will need several more surgeries to repair additional nerve damage to his face and to repair his tear duct.”
The dog was captured, quarantined, euthanized and tested for rabies, which it did not have.
The owner of the dog, 49-year-old Patti Jean Bell-Neveling, was arrested Feb. 7 on a third-degree felony charge of attack by dog resulting in serious bodily injury warrant. According to authorities, this was not the first time the dog had gotten out, and the fencing was insufficient.
“The fenced enclosure was inadequate,” Sheriff Russ Authier said. “The dogs had gotten out before. The homeowner knew or should have known the fence was inadequate and made steps to try to rectify that. And that was not done.”
Bell-Neveling was taken to the Parker County Jail.
In a show of solidarity and compassion, the community came together to help Conner and his family and to show true neighborly care for them.
Karen Kessler, animal control supervisor for the sheriff’s office, started an account at a local bank to help collect funds for Conner’s medical bills.
“We just wanted to do something to help Conner on his long road to recovery,” Kessler said.
Parker was also awarded $500 for her bravery and was recognized as a local hero for intervening in the attack.
“We commend Conner’s neighbor for her bravery and quick actions in saving him,” Authier said. “We are praying for Conner to make a full recovery.”
Agencies and companies including Servolution Network, the Home Depot and Trinity River Fence & Construction also donated their time and supplies to build a fence around Conner’s backyard so that he would feel comfortable playing on his own turf again.