Joliet girl recovering from pit bull attack

January 29, 2008 5:00:41 PM PST
A Joliet girl remains hospitalized after she was attacked Friday by a pit bull on her way home from school. The 9-year-old needed more than 30 stitches to close her wounds.

The third grader is in good spirits even though she almost lost her life in a terrifying pit bull attack. She and her family wanted to tell the story Tuesday with the hope that other dog owners will pay attention and do their best to prevent dog attacks.

Cierra Anyaso was smiling Tuesday even though her left leg is bandaged up with more than 30 stitches. Friday, as she was getting off the school bus in the 1300-block of Cecilia in Joliet, a pit bull charged her and her friend.

"I was walking home and even when I turned around the dog was right there, and went after me, and grabbed my hood, and then kind of like got my coat, kind of like fell off of me, and then I tried to run but then it got my leg, and then it kept pushing me around," Cierra said.

Cierra, who only weighs 75 pounds, says the dog would not let go of her leg. Some of the bites were so deep they went all the way down to the bone.

"I kept saying help, help, but my friend just standing there crying," said Cierra.

Fortunately, a man driving by saw what was happening. He jumped out of his car, scared the pit bull away, and took Cierra to her home. She was rushed to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where doctors were able to save her leg. Her nurse even gave Cierra a new stuffed animal she named "Joe."

"I thank God for placing him there. And I believe God chose her because she is a strong young lady. And I believe he knew she would be the one to overcome the situation. And that is why she has," said Ardis Johnson, mother.

Cierra's parents both work for the Illinois Department of Corrections. Their insurance will cover most of her medical bills, but they will likely be looking at some out-of-pocket expenses.

"She may need cosmetic surgery, depending on the care down the road, some therapy and then really counseling. So, it could get up there," said Vince Anyaso, father.

Her father says he hopes dog owners will pay attention to Cierra's story and keep their pets under control.

"I feel it's not necessarily bad dogs, but bad owners," said Vince Anyaso, father.

As for the man who came to Cierra's rescue, her family is still trying to figure out who he is. The third grader has a message for him.

"Thank you very much," Cierra said.

Will County Sheriff's Police tracked down the pit bull and the owner. He declined to go on camera Tuesday, but police say he had the dog put down on his own. Cierra's family says the owner has been very apologetic and cooperative. So far he has not been charged.

Cierra will be in the hospital recovering for the next two weeks.