The mother of this six-year-old girl who lost 40 per cent of her vision in a brutal pitball attack has hailed the bravery of her 11-year-old daughter who risked her own life to save her sister from death.
Stay-at-home mum, Shalaye Newman, 31, from Glenwood, Hawaii felt the worst terror any parent could feel when her six-year-old daughter Violet was attacked by two out-of-control pitbulls.
She remembers the incident of November 5 2021 clearly. Violet and her older sisters Faith, 15, and Layla, 11, had been coming back from school.
They took the bus and walked home from the station approximately half a mile away.
Violet walked by a house with two viciously trained pitbulls and usually, there was no issue as the dogs were penned into the backyard.
However, on the day of the incident, they got loose and attacked the young child as they were trained to do.
Violet’s eye was mauled and her face was badly bitten; however, it is the lasting scars on her psyche that Shalaye worries about the most.
Layla was the sister that pulled Violet away from the stray dogs and saved her life. However, she has not fared well in the aftermath of the attack either.
The second sister, Faith ran to get her mother when the incident happened and she blames herself as well.
The entire family feels guilty for Violet’s trauma and Leila suffers through daily nightmares over the ordeal.
“Stray dogs are a continuing problem in Hawaii, as the rules of owning and training a dog to attack are very loose,” says Shalaye.
“This is not the first incident that has happened in our neighbourhood. However, Violet’s is the worst case I have personally seen.
“On the day of the incident, the girls had been walking home when the two pitbulls who had been trained to attack got loose and attacked Violet.
“I don’t blame the dogs, they were doing what they had been trained to do, they didn’t know any better.
“I reached the scene when my eldest Faith came running to get me and told me what had happened.
“I reached Violet 15 minutes after she had been attacked. She and Layla were still there and no one had even called an ambulance.
“It was the first thing I did and of course the police as well, the poor dogs were put down and an investigation has been launched on the owners as well.
“Violet will be fine physically, it is the mental trauma of this incident that will remain with her, it will remain with all of us.
“We cannot contend with the fact that it was the youngest and most innocent and vulnerable one of us attacked in such a vicious manner.
“The girls feel guilty, they think they let their sister down and for myself, I nearly lost my child.
“She could lose her eye and has a bite on her neck and if it was an inch to the side the pitbull could have ripped my daughters neck out.
“We have had to give up our dogs, we had two half pitbulls because Violet is terrified of them.
“She can’t sleep, she can’t walk by that house, she can’t cross a dog in the street without panicking.”
Shalaye has issued a police complaint against the pitbull owners and is fighting the Hawaii legislature on dangerous dog ownership.
“I have filed a report with the police against the pitbull owners as the dogs were not at fault, they were doing what they were trained to,” she said.
“It was the owners that trained them to be vicious and then lost control of them so much they attacked my child.
“And all they have received so far is a misdemeanour charge and a slap on the wrist.
“Whereas I could have lost my child, my daughters could have lost their little sister in front of them.
“A part of the problem is that owning dangerous dog breeds in Hawaii is very easy, and accessible by anyone.
“There need to be stricter checks on the kind of people who can own dangerous dog breeds and what they are teaching them.
“Here punching a dog is a serious offence, you can go to jail for that.
“But training a dog to attack, and they ended up attacking a child is just a misdemeanour.”
Shalaye has started a fundraiser to help with the funds for Violet’s recovery and has been overwhelmed by the response she has received.
“People have given so much, we wanted to raise $20,000 (£15,000) and we are now at $11,500 (£8,500).
“The response from the community has been overwhelming, people have been so supportive and giving.
“This money is for the treatments Violet has left, and therapy that the entire family will be undergoing to work through this trauma.
“Some of it will be used to fight the cause of dangerous dog owners and we are also in the process of shifting as having to see the house every day is very hurtful for Violet’s mental health.”