Teach your kids about dog safety, N.L. mother warns after dog bites son's face

A mother from western Newfoundland is warning parents to teach children about pet safety, after her seven-year-old son was bitten on the face by a dog.

Taylen Osmond, 7, from Stephenville, was visiting his grandparents in La Poile during Easter vacation when he was bitten by a tethered dog in a family-friend's yard.

"If anybody knows Taylen he's a very, very chipper young man. He's very positive and bouncy and bright. So, when he first had it done he looked in the mirror [and] his response was 'I look like a cool zombie,'" says Angie Colbourne.

​"But when it comes to people seeing him in public and his friends seeing him and stuff, he's a bit upset over that and a little sensitive.

"He's made the comment that he doesn't want to go outdoors anywhere because he knows he looks scary and he doesn't want to scare his friends."

Colbourne said her son was playing in the yard with other kids while the dog was tethered. The child of the family who owns the dog was hugging it.

"Taylen went to pet him at the same time as well and the dog had grabbed him by the face and attacked him," Colbourne told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show.

"He has wounds on his face that we're treating as the days go on. His face was pretty well swollen all over."

'More lucky than anything'

Osmond was taken to hospital from La Poile, which Colbourne said takes about two hours. There the doctor said things could have been much worse.

"He was more lucky than anything, because it was very close to his eyes. The doctor had said that less than a half an inch closer and he would have been impaired in his eyes," Colbourne said.

"He would have had impaired vision or could have potentially lost an eye. We were very lucky in a sense, but still, none the less, the injuries were quite substantial." 

Colbourne was travelling home from St. John's during the time of the incident. She said she tried not to panic when she got the phone call from Osmond's grandmother, telling her what had happened.

"I tried to stay calm. I assumed it was just a bite, a nip or whatever, and I was kind of staying calm. You got no contact with anybody for the next two hours, so it's no good to psych yourself out," she said.

"But once I had seen a picture of his face, it was a little bit tough to be away from him at that time."

Teach your children to be cautious

Colbourne said she has filed a report with police. RCMP in Port aux Basques said the matter is under investigation and they are still interviewing witnesses.

They have not received any more complaints about this particular dog, police said.

Colbourne said she wants to tell people to educate children about pet safety, and to be cautious with your own pets around children, no matter how friendly they may be.

"Just making sure that even though you think you're playing, the dog might not [npt] … Teaching [children] to not trust [an animal], even though you think you can," she said.

"If you know that your dog is capable of being aggressive … keep the kids away from the dog, even if he is tied on. Keep the supervision. I mean, my child was in another friend's yard … things can happen in a split second."