Dog bites North Whidbey 3-year-old’s face, 15 stitches needed

Maliha Breaux

A 3-year-old Oak Harbor girl is healing after a she was bitten in the face by a pit bull last week.

Her mother, Nikki Breaux, said the bite required 15 stitches and doctors won’t know for a year if little Maliha will need plastic surgery on her face.

“You hear about this happening all the time, but I never thought it would happen to my child,” she said. “If the bite was any higher, she could have lost an eye. It could have been a lot worse.”

Breaux said she had to take the mirror out of Maliha’s room for a couple of days because it scared her to look at her swollen, bruised face.

“She said she doesn’t think she’s pretty anymore,” Breaux said.

Island County Animal Control Officer Carol Barnes said it was the second case in the last few months involving a serious dog bite. She said she hopes the incidents serve as a reminder for dog owners and the community that aggressive dogs can pose real danger, especially to children.

Both cases involved pit bulls, but Barnes said she focuses on the dog’s behavior, not the breed.

Breaux agrees.

“We’ve had pit bulls,” she said. “We had one for nine years and never even heard it growl.”

In both incidents, the victims were visiting the home where the dogs lived.

Breaux said the family was at a friend’s home on North Whidbey and Maliha was throwing a ball for the roommate’s heeler puppy. The roommate’s other dog, a 3-year-old female pit bull, attacked the little girl and bit her on the face.

Breaux said the dog was still on top of her daughter when she ran to help. She said the bite was out of the blue. Maliha has known and played with the pit bull for years.

“She wasn’t antagonizing it or bothering it or anything like that,” she said.

Breaux said she has since found out that the dog had been attacking farm animals.

Yet her husband, Alan Breaux, said he believes the bite was essentially an accident.

“I just think the dog doesn’t has any self control,” he said, “and lunged for the ball, missed and bit her face.”

Barnes said she investigated and believes there were some warning signs.

“The owner definitely had a different interpretation of the dog’s behavior,” she said.

Barnes filled out a pre-determination order to deem the dog as a “dangerous dog” under state law. She said the dog’s owner decided to have the dog euthanized after realizing all the requirements , such as an enclosure, liability insurance and signs ‚ that go along with keeping a dangerous dog.

In the other case, two dogs attacked a man who was visiting a home on South Whidbey on July 29. Barnes said the man was standing in the front yard when the dogs bit him on the wrist and stomach.

The bite on the wrist was serious and required stitches, Barnes said. She filed the paperwork to deem the dog that caused the serious injury as a dangerous dog.

In this case, the owner decided to keep the dog and followed all the requirements.

As for Maliha, her mother says that she’s healing well, both physically and emotionally. She had nightmares the first few nights and was in a lot of pain.

Breaux said she was worried that Maliha would be scared of dogs after such a frightening incident, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. She was crawling all over the family’s rather protective Great Dane on an afternoon just a few days after the biting incident.

“She has a strong spirit,” Breaux said of her daughter. “She’ll do good, I’m sure.”