San Tan Valley family speaks out after toddler attacked by dog

Posted at 9:29 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-17 14:25:24-04

A family is speaking out after their young daughter was attacked by their dog in San Tan Valley.

Today, Ariyah Hernandez had to undergo facial surgery and is now recovering at home. However, they recall just days ago when their rescued Golden Retriever-Chow mix suddenly snapped and mauled the victim.

The family adopted the dog, Avalon, from the county animal shelter in Maricopa County. It was an instant bond they felt when they first saw her.

The toddler's father, Adrian Hernandez, explained the pup always seemed even tempered. 

"She just seemed so out of place in the pound," Hernandez said. "She was just in the corner keeping to herself, you know?"

The parents said the child and the dog seemed to bond as well, although when they look back now, they do recall some warning signs.

"We noticed a few times when our daughter was around her, it would tense up, stop wagging its tail but we just told our daughter it's OK you know, just leave her alone now," Hernandez said.

The child's mother, Anahi Gomez Torres, said she also noticed some signs of aggression; like when her daughter would help put out the dog's food. She noticed the dog growling and would ask the child to move away.

On Wednesday night, both parents were at work and had relatives babysitting their daughter when they got the call that the dog had attacked the child.

Hernandez said Aryiah had been on the ground brushing the dog's hair when she reached over to pet the dog and it snapped and bit her in the face.

Her mother got the call while she was at work.

"I literally dropped everything and ran out of there. Drove home, was mad the traffic," Torres said.

Rural Metro firefighters rushed the child to a local hospital where a team of doctors, nurses, and a plastic surgeon were assessing her condition.

Torres said she was heartbroken to see her child's condition; she had a cut going from her lip to her cheek bone.

"I told them the first thing I thought of was the Joker. It sounds dumb but literally just the way it was cut, all the way," Torres said.

The family surrendered the dog to Pinal County Animal control.  A spokesman tells ABC15 a local rescue will assess the dog's behavior and if it can be trained, the dog will be given another shot at finding a family.

Hernandez said they had no problem with that but they just hope it's a family with no children.

ABC15 checked to see the dog's history. 

A spokeswoman with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control said the dog had first been adopted out to a Glendale family in 2009 who surrendered the dog back to the shelter in January 2017 citing "financial costs."  

There was no history of aggression or bites documented in the dog's paperwork.

Recover costs for the toddler are adding up fast. Here's how you can help.