Polk County Sheriff’s Animal Control Officers are investigating a serious dog bite to a 5-year-old boy. Around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24, 2007, deputies were called to the scene at 4619 Great Heron Blue Drive in Highland City, the home of Scott and Cassie Gawtrey, after it was reported that a child had been bitten severely by a pit bull dog. EMS arrived on-scene as well, and based on the amount of blood at the scene and the injuries to the child, decided to have him airlifted to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa.
Animal Control Officers took statements from eyewitnesses, who said that 5-year-old Collier Martin and his mother Tonette Hayward, who live at 1020 Fox Lake Drive in Lakeland, were visiting their good friends the Gawtreys at their Highland City home. Around 3:45 p.m. the Gawtrey’s 5-year-old red nose pit bull Dozer gained entry into the home by pushing open a sliding glass door and approached Collier, who was sitting on the living room couch. Dozer began licking Collier. Reports are varied, but it appears that either Collier or his mother, or both of them, at some point screamed, and immediately after that, Dozer grabbed Collier by the head and face with his teeth and began biting him all over his head and body. Another friend at the home was able to get the dog off of the boy and put the dog into a bathroom.
The injuries to Collier were: a 3-inch piece of scalp torn off, requiring over 50 sutures; over 200 sutures to the top lip; 2 punctures behind his right ear; 3-4 punctures to his left forearm; 13-15 punctures to his left leg; 2 punctures to his right leg. Collier was treated and released from St. Joseph’s Hospital.
The Gawtreys voluntarily surrendered Dozer and their other pit bull dog, Trinity, to Animal Control, where both dogs will remain under quarantine. Dozer does not have documented rabies vaccination, and the owners will be cited for that. After the necessary 10-day time period to determine whether or not Dozer tests positive for rabies, he will be humanely euthanized, along with Trinity who exhibits signs that she cannot be adopted out.