Pit bull owner sentenced for dog attack on girl - CBS46 News

Pit bull owner sentenced for dog attack on girl

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A DeKalb County judge sentenced the owner of two pit bulls to 16 months in jail and 3 years probation Friday night for a dog attack that seriously injured a little girl.

State Court Judge Dax Lopez handed down the sentence against Twyann Vaughn after a DeKalb County jury found her guilty on all six criminal counts.

The attack happened in Lithonia in March of 2010.  The victim, 10-year-old Erin Ingram, was seriously injured and had to have part of her left arm amputated.

The judge also ordered Vaughn to pay restitution to the girl's family.

Thursday, Erin and her father both testified against Vaughn. 

During her testimony, Erin showed where doctors had amputated her left arm at the elbow, and the scars that marked her right arm.

Erin said she had gone outside to play basketball when the dogs, who she said she never played with because she had heard bad things about them, attacked her.

"They knocked me down," she said.  "They started biting me around the arms and ankles. I was screaming for help."

Several jurors cried as Erin recounted the attack, recalling that her neighbors honked their car horns in an attempt to scare off the dogs.

"I was going to die," she said.

When police arrived at the scene of the attack, they shot at the pit bulls, killing one and scaring the lesser aggressive dog away.  That dog was later captured and euthanized.

The police officer that shot the pit bull testified Wednesday that if he hadn't killed the dog, Erin wouldn't have survived, and that both dogs were aggressive.

Tommy Ingram, Erin's father, said his daughter's road to recovery hadn't been an easy one.  She had to learn to walk and write again, and underwent more than 10 surgeries during her two-month hospital stay following the attack.

Ingram said the only place on his daughter's body that didn't have scars from the attack was her feet and face.

"No matter what we do, we look at her and feel remorse for what we had to go through and what we still have to go through," he said.

Ingram said his family owes $100,000 in medical bills and attorney fees and his daughter still has to undergo more therapy.  She still walks with a limp.

When asked if Vaughn had contacted him following the attack, Ingram said she had.

"Vaughn called next day and said sorry. I haven't heard from her since," he said.  "Would you accept that?"

Ingram said his daughter was a happy-go-lucky girl who loved to be outside and still loves dogs, despite the traumatic attack. 

Erin said she still has nightmares about the attack and gets teased at school about her appearance.

Vaughn and other neighbors testified in court Wednesday.  While some neighbors said that the pit bulls were always getting away from her property and they had called animal control on multiple occasions, Vaughn's lawyer challenged those neighbors, saying Erin and other neighborhood children sometimes played with the dogs.

Vaughn was found guilty on two counts each of reckless conduct, violating the Vicious Dog Act and failing to properly vaccinate her dogs.  All are misdemeanor charges.

Judge Lopez told Vaughn she could turn herself in to the DeKalb County Jail by 8 a.m. Monday morning.

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