FARMINGDALE — It was 9:30 Thursday morning when the 3-year-old girl wandered to within striking distance of Dozer, a male Rottweiler four times her size.
The dog was hooked by a steel cable to a barn at the 67 Littlefield Lane home.
Dozer lunged, snapping the choke collar around his neck, and mauled the child. It ripped off a large chunk of her scalp and bit her several times.
Pam Lapointe, 51, dove on top of her granddaughter, but the dog continued to bite and thrash at the girl. Lapointe was not injured.
“Given the aggressive nature of the dog, I believe the grandmother saved the young girl’s life and should be commended for her bravery,” Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty said Thursday. “Had she not shielded the young girl from the dog, this event would have been much more tragic.”
Even so, the unnamed girl sustained serious injuries that will require surgery, police said. The dog continued to attack even after a Gardiner Rescue crew arrived, preventing rescuers from immediately treating the girl.
When Gardiner police officer Allen Alexander arrived, he shot and killed the Rottweiler because it continued to act aggressively, Liberty said.
The girl was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland and then by helicopter to Shriners Hospital in Boston.
Liberty said the girl suffered serious injuries, but was alert and stable at the hospital. A large piece of the youngster’s scalp was found near the scene of the attack. Police packaged the scalp in ice and rushed it to Maine Medical in hopes doctors might reattach the fragment.
“She will likely be subjected to multiple surgeries to repair the damage to her head,” Liberty said.
The 5-year-old male Rottweiler weighed about 120 pounds and was owned by Lapointe’s boyfriend, 52-year-old James Baum. The boyfriend told police he had warned the family to stay away from the dog.
Baum and the girl’s mother, 22-year-old Sarah Thompson, share the house at 67 Littlefield Lane with Lapointe and the child, but only Lapointe was home with the girl when the dog attacked.
After the officer shot the dog, its remains were taken to a local veterinarian to be tested for rabies and other diseases, Liberty said. He said Farmingdale Animal Control Officer Jim Grant will continue to investigate the incident. Police did not file any charges.
Grant said Thursday he was not sure whether there had been any previous police complaints in connection with the dog.
“I haven’t been able to fully look into that yet,” Grant said. “I’m assisting the sheriff’s office in any way I can.”
Meanwhile, Liberty urged people who have not properly trained their dogs — especially if they are known to be aggressive — to keep them away from children and others.
“This incident should be a reminder to owners of such dogs to properly secure them and prevent future tragic events from occurring,” Liberty said.
Craig Crosby — 621-5642