The mother of a 7-year-old Blount County boy mauled by her cousin’s pitbull-mix dog doesn’t blame her cousin and said that while her son has a long road to recovery, his faith in God is strong.
“He knows more about Christianity than I do,” Jessica Foust said. “He keeps saying, ‘God’s beside me. God’s taking care of me.’ ”
Austin Foust suffered severe injuries when the 2-year-old dog named Leo broke from a chain his mother said could “hold a horse” and attacked him as he and his brother ran from their great-grandparents house.
The boys had just delivered a plate of food to their grandmother at about 4:30 p.m. at a Burnett Station Road address in Seymour, Jessica Foust said.
Foust said her son had played with the dog in the past and the animal always was playful. She said for some reason the dog was apparently nervous on Monday when he saw Austin and his brother, Ryan Foust, 10, running back from their grandmother’s house to their mobile home about 200 yards away.
Leo was chained to a tree about 75 yards away and apparently broke the chain and went after the boys.
Foust said she yelled for the boys to deliver the food and run back because they had to take baths. She stepped back inside and less than 3 minutes later the dog was attacking Austin.
A young man staying at her cousin’s mobile home heard the boys screaming, ran out and put the animal in a choke hold.
The animal, however, already had damaged both of Austin’s ears, grandfather Frank Enter said.
“He got him (Austin) loose and Austin got up and started running,” Enter said. “I thought the dog just got loose and then I saw Austin get to his house and put his hand on the back door and there was nothing but blood on the door and I knew something was wrong.”
Enter said the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department got on the scene quickly.
The grandfather was baffled by what the dog did because both boys had been at the property on weekends and the boys didn’t aggravate the dog.
“He was a lovable dog, but I don’t want to belittle what he did,” Enter said. “No doubt, he hurt my grandson badly. Something caused the dog to flip.”
Foust said she didn’t blame her cousin, Geoffrey Reed, who owns the dog. The storms from Sunday night, the fact that her grandfather had been mowing the yard and then the running boys apparently made the dog nervous.
“It would’ve been different if he had just been letting him (the dog) run free, but he was tied up with a chain that could stop a horse,” she said.
The child was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where Foust said surgeons reattached one ear, but then inserted the other ear into a blood vessel in his arm where blood can continue to circulate until surgeons can reattach it in two to three weeks.
Austin was listed in stable condition and should be released and sent home or transferred to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital on Wednesday, Jessica Foust said.