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Tue, 23 May 2006
Letter to parents
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Family,
Our son Benjamin is a miracle boy! He survived a severe dog attack and we are so happy to say that he is now doing great! His scars have healed miraculously and he is the happy and humorous boy he always was.

In light of Dog Bite Prevention Week, I would like to share Benís story in hopes to save a childís beautiful face from permanent scars and a horrible trauma or even save a childís life.
Please read my letter and share it with friends who have young children or dogs.
On October of 2003, our son Benjamin survived a tragic dog attack.
He was bitten severely by a supposedly friendly neighborhood dog (Lab - Pit Bull).
The mistake the owner made was that they tied their dog to a white picket fence and thought it was ok to leave Ben alone with the dog. The owner told Ben and Benís dad that the dog was a good dog and that it was ok for Ben to pet him. Benís attack was totally unprovoked. The Lab - Pit Bull does not growl or show signs that it will bite so poor Ben had no idea that this dog was going to attack him. The dog leaped into Benís face, locked his jaws around both his cheeks and shook him violently. Fortunately, Benís dad and the dog owner were just inside the open door of the house and were able to stop the dog.
The bite was only 2 inches from Benís jugular vein. Ben had to have plastic surgery with over three hundred stitches (17 inches) causing permanent facial scars and paralysis. Unfortunately Benís case was one of the worst but Ben was lucky to survive. Ben lived to tell his story in full detail even the moment just before the dog leaped into his face. He said the dog looked at him and then looked over to the open door where he could hear his owner speaking. He said he did this several times and then suddenly latched onto his face and pulled him down shaking him.
After almost 3 years now, Ben is doing great and has totally overcome his tragedy mentally.
In fact Ben and his brother Austin have their very own dog, a Cockapoo, that they both love and adore.
Yeah Ben!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ben is a miracle boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you would like to see how fragile a childís face is and how powerful a dogs teeth are you can see what happened to Benís face within a matter of seconds. These images are shocking but very eye opening.
My hope is that maybe sharing these photos will help make us all more careful.
Here is the link: www.dogbites.zoomshare.com Click on See Images and View Album.
Why did this dog attack Ben? After doing plenty of research I now understand why.
This dog had no history of aggressive behavior. He never bit anyone before and so the owner had no idea that his dog would do such a thing. What the owner did not realize is that he put his dog in a situation where the dog was left feeling afraid. He tied his dog to a fence and left him alone with someone the dog did not know. A child can scare a dog simply because of their height.
Many dogs can perceive a child as just another animal - not an authority figure - and because of a childís short height, a dog and a child meet eye to eye which to a dog can mean that you are challenging him. Also if a child smiles at a dog, the dog can perceive the site of a childís teeth as a threat. This dog attacked Ben because he was afraid and felt trapped being tied up and unable to get away. Unfortunately the Lab - Pit Bull did not give Ben any warning signs.
Other breeds may show warning signs that would allow a child to know to move away. I believe that this lesson is the most important in dog safety rules Ė Never leave a dog alone with a child and teach children to never go near a dog they do not know well, especially when the dog is tethered. Many dog owners will tether their dogs in front of a store leaving the dogs alone while they do their errands. This is something that dog owners should avoid.
Children are passionate about dogs and most are not educated to know that they should not approach a strange dog.
You wouldnít have known it was Dog Bite Prevention Week unless maybe you stopped by the post office like my sister-in-law Kate.
Kate is a school teacher and I was hoping that she might have learned about Dog Bite Prevention Week at school.
But despite the fact that more than half of the seriously injured dog bite victims are children, schools do not teach dog safety.
It is up to parents to teach our children what they can do and must not do around dogs. Children should know how to read the danger signs from a dog
or what situations must always be avoided, like going into a neighborís backyard where there is a loose dog or dogs.

Statistics say that every year, dogs bite 4.7 million Americans and 60 percent of those affected are children, with the most severe injuries occurring in children younger than 10 years old (Ben was 9), which adds up to potentially 2.8 million scars on children each year from dog bites alone.
Children seen in the emergency room for dog bites are more likely to have been bitten on the face, neck and head. In fact, children under 10 receive 65 percent of the reported dog bites to the face. Children are also 900 times as likely as letter carriers to be attacked by dogs.

Through Benís horrible tragedy and mine, I want to help teach children and parents the importance of dog safety.
Because there are not many educational materials available to parents, I created an educational website with a story book that make the lessons FUN and not scary for children. I want children to learn to ďGET DOG SMARTĒ so that they can be more cautious, feeling confident and safe around dogs. Itís up to parents to take on the responsibility to teach their children dog safety just as they teach their children to stay away from strangers.
I would like to invite parents and children to this new educational website - www.GetDogSmart.com
The site includes a full color story book inspired by Benís story, told by Diggity the Dog. In this story, Diggity takes the kids on a walk through the neighborhood. Along the way, they encounter a whole lot of dogs in different situations.
Diggity tells them the "do's" and "don'ts" -- right from the doggie's mouth. The story can be read on-line or can be printed.
There are also tips for dog owners and FUN educational games children will love. Diggityís story is also available as a FREE coloring book included with Diggity the Dogís Puppet Show Book which is available at www.PuppetShowBooks.com .
This book makes a great childrenís gift and is also a great reward for a child who has successfully learned all the rules about dog safety.

Make Dog Bite Prevention Week a time to educate yourself and your children and make the lessons fun, easy and memorable!
Especially since dog bites increase during the summer months while children are playing more outdoors.
Many adults need to learn dog safety tips too. Did you know that you should never run from a dog?
Many people donít. You should stand still like a tree and do not look into the dogs eyes.

Also, if you are a dog owner the website www.GetDogSmart.com includes tips for you too. It is important for dog owners to educate themselves so that when children visit their homes, they are prepared. The typical response of a dog owner whose dog did bite is ďI didnít think my dog would ever do that.Ē Dogs are animals and in the wrong situation they all bite.
Dogs can also easily get spooked around children, so itís worth spending the time to learn the facts and take precautions.

Be safe and have a fun summer!

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.
Please share this message to help save a child from this trauma.

My best wishes to all,
Lisa LeLeu

Posted 12:39 
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