Child Mauled by Pit Bull, Owner Arrested

Neighbors said they had to pry the dog off the 4-year-old girl

By Lauren Steussy and Danya Bacchus
|  Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012  |  Updated 4:20 PM PDT
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In an instant, Vanessa Gonzalez says her four-year old neighbor, Hailey Nunez, was mauled by a pit bull. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

In an instant, Vanessa Gonzalez says her four-year old neighbor, Hailey Nunez, was mauled by a pit bull. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

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A woman was arrested Tuesday after her pit bull attacked a 4-year-old girl in National City, police said.

Brittany Gardiner, 22, allegedly took her pit bull outside near Laurel Avenue and Fourth Street for a walk Tuesday when a child accompanied by an adult asked if she could pet Gardiner’s dog, according to Sgt. Julian Villagomez with the National City Police Department.

The dog then attacked the girl, identified by neighbors as Hailey Nunez, biting her face and shoulder and grabbing her in its mouth.

"All of a sudden I hear a cry," said neighbor Vanessa Gonzalez. "I walk over and I could see where she was trying to pet the dog but the dog reached out and attacked her."

Neighbors told NBC 7 that more than four men and Gardiner tried to pry the dog away from the girl for quite a while, punching and kicking it to try and stop it.

Bystander Juan Terrance eventually hit the dog repetitively with a rock until it let go of the toddler.

"Fortunately there was a rock at the bottom of the hill," Terrance said. "I grabbed it. I grabbed it and hit the dog five times."

Nunez sustained serious injuries and was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital for surgery, Villagomez said. 

By Tuesday night, she was in fair condition.

When police were called to the scene, Gardiner attempted to flee, but was taken into custody shortly after, according to police.

"The owner ran upstairs with the dog. Got her keys, got her dog, got in her car, tried to put it in reverse to take off," Gonzalez said. "The cops came and blocked her in, she was actually trying to get away from the scene."

Gardiner faces three charges of child cruelty, obstruction of a police officer and owning an animal that causes serious injury, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department website.

Gardiner’s dog was also seized and taken to an animal shelter.

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