Garner, N.C. — The owners of a pair of dogs that killed a child last month and badly injured her mother are asking the Town of Garner to let their animals return home.
Since the April 27 attack, the dogs – Athena, 3, and Blitzen, 8 – have been in the custody of the Wake County Animal Center. But ultimately, Garner Police will decide whether the dogs can be returned to their owners.
On Monday, Joseph and Amanda White submitted a permit application to the Garner Police Department to designate the dogs as dangerous and to allow them to come home.
Heather Trevaskis, a master control operator at WRAL-TV, and her 7-year old daughter, Jayden Belle Henderson, were caring for the dogs in White’s yard when they were attacked.
Trevaskis said Jayden tripped, was on the ground, and one of the dogs got on top of her.
“By the time I got down there, I realized that he was being vicious,” she said.
As Trevaskis screamed for help, she said she was losing blood from her injuries.
“I got the smaller dog, and she started attacking me. I couldn’t get back to Jayden,” she said.
Jayden died of her injuries. Trevaskis spent several days in the hospital.
“I didn’t know what to do. I tried pulling. I tried kicking,” she said of her struggle to get the two pit bulls away from her daughter.
Trevaskis and her husband, Dave Henderson, Jayden’s father, say the requirements of a “dangerous dogs permit” don’t go far enough for dogs known to kill.
In the application, the Whites agree to:
- build a secure enclosure for the dogs;
- have microchips implanted in the dogs designating them as dangerous;
- pay a $500 dangerous dog permit fee;
- keep the dogs muzzles and leashed whenever they are outside;
- make sure the dogs are always under the control of a responsible adult
- license the dogs through the Town of Garner; and
- provide a certificate of insurance.
In addition to the loss of her daughter, Trevasksis has dozens of bites on her arms, numbness and limited movement. Her long-term prognosis is uncertain.
“I have numbness and lack of function in some of my right hand and some of my left hand,” she told WRAL News on Monday.
She was focusing on her recovery and living in a world without Jayden until she learned her neighbors were asking to get the dogs back.
“I love animals and I don’t have anything against a breed,” she said. “I don’t think these specific dogs should go home. I couldn’t live with myself if something else happened to somebody else.”
The Whites wrote, in the application for a dangerous dog permit, “This is out of nature for either dog to have hurt a human being.”
Joseph White also asserted that Trevaskis and her daughter did not have permission to be in his yard while he and his wife were away. But a text exchange shows photos of Jayden playing with one of the dogs and White’s wife, Amanda, replying, “Thank you guys for playing with them.”
The Whites are the first to apply for a dangerous dog permit under the Garner law, which was only passed on February.
Wake County has no official permit process for a “dangerous dog.” In the City of Raleigh, a dog deemed dangerous by animal control faces similar limitations as those laid out by Garner. It must be kept in a secure enclosure and must be leashed and muzzled whenever it is off the owner’s property.
So, even though the town has deemed both dogs dangerous, attorney Daniel Meier says they’ll likely get a second chance.
“North Carolina is what you call a one-free-bite case,” Meier said, saying the victims don’t have much legal wiggle room. “The law allows folks to have their dangerous dogs as long as they comply with the rules.”