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Lancaster County teen saves friends from dog attack

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As the dog bite on Austin Smith’s thigh heals, the story of how he got that bite is spreading through his small community of Reinholds, Lancaster County.

The way his classmate Mallory Moyer tells it, Austin saved her and another boy from being attacked while they walked home from their school bus stop on April 4th.

“The dog had gotten off from where it was attached and starting going after the high school girl and after her pants,” Moyer said. “And when I saw that I got really scared and screamed and ran back towards the bus stop.”

Hearing Mallory’s screams, Austin knew he had to act.

“I was just thinking get them behind me and get in front of the dog,” he said.

That’s when the mixed-breed dog, which belongs to a neighbor, bit Austin on the leg.

“Felt like a hot iron laying on my leg,” he said.

The jeans Austin was wearing that day are torn in several places where the dog snagged onto them. The bite could have been a lot worse, but Austin had a lot of stuff in his pocket, including a keychain that says ‘Courage.’

“I’m very proud of my son,” said Jackie Smith. “But he’s the type of boy that would do that anytime.”

Doctors say Austin will be just fine.

Mallory even baked him cookies to show her appreciation.

“All my friends at school say he is a hero, and to me, I say, yeah, he was,” she said.

A state dog warden is investigating the case and charges against the owner are pending.


  • Dennis Baker

    While anti BSL, pro pit advocates celebrate what they consider victories. We mourn another death . Thus far this year there have been 9 fatal dog attacks in the U.S. In every one of these deaths only one breed (type) of dog has been the killer .The pit bull has been the only type of dog to take human life so far this year. Please Pray for the families and loved ones of the following .( Claudia Gallardo, 38 years old ) (Tyler Jett, 7 years old ) (Monica Renee Laminack, 21 months old) (Daxton Borchardt, 14 months old ) ( Ryan Maxwell, 7 years old ) (Isaiah Aguilar, 2 years old ) ( Esile Grace, 91 years old ) (Christian Gormanous, 4 years old ) (Betty Todd, 65 years old ) What kind of people find celebration while lives are lost. At this rate within the next 10 to 20 days We will be adding another innocent victim to this list. Please join Us to bring regulation that will reduce the mauling and killing .

  • Ed L

    Thank you Dennis Baker! This is what I have been searching for. You said it all! People don't understand that the Pit Bull was cross bred to be a fighter. They are No 1 in dog bites in the US. People come to their defense but the statistics don't lie. They are most dangerous dog there is.

  • Kelli Snyder

    Perhaps I’m missing something but nowhere in the article is the dog’s breed mentioned, other than that it was “mixed.” It’s an unfortunate situation and one where breed should not be placed. The article referenced the dog “got off from where it was attached” indicating that it was tied up without supervision. If you really look at dog bite statistics, the overwhelming majority come from “resident dogs” and NOT “family dogs.” The difference being that the former are dogs tied/chained outside with little interaction with its family and the world outside of its own home. A “family dog” is one that lives inside, is a regular part of the family, are socialized to other stimuli, etc. The National Canine Research Council has published reports on what is REALLY behind dog bite statistics, and where breed comes into play (if it can even truly be identified):

    The dog’s breed has nothing to do with what happened here, and it saddens me that others automatically jump to conclusions. ANY dog can bite. We have to look at the bigger picture – what were the circumstances of the bite? Has this particular dog been involved in similar accusations? If so, why was the owner not held more accountable? What is the owner doing to prevent situations like this from happening? Singling out a single breed or breed mix does not create safer communities.

    • KlondikeSam

      A "family dog" does NOT live indoors! Dogs were not created to live indoors and those that do, particularly large, active breeds, become maladjusted when forced to live inside a house or apartment and many develop respiratory problems from breathing dehumidified air. Back when people kept dogs outside, where all dogs belong, dog attacks on infants and toddlers were almost unheard of because 90+% of attacks on this age group occur indoors. Dogs that spend most of their lives indoors are just as dangerous as chained dogs and anyone who forces a large, active dog to live indoors is guilty of animal cruelty and should be charged accordingly. More than likely, the dog in this case spent most of its time inside the house and had simply been "let out" for a short period of time. Additionally, the article says "mix," but I doubt it was mixed with pit bull because had it been a pit bull, the boy would have likely had much more than a bite on the leg. Unchained family dogs that live outdoors and are never allowed inside the house seldom attack humans.

      • jackie

        It was a pit mix and he saw it coming and punched to dog in the nose as it bit him and the owner just grabbed to snapped cable and was pulling him away as the dog bit dow of it would have been a lot worse.the first time the dog bit the kid was hut real bad needed to call 911 that time.Also yes the dog is inside the house about a total of 22 to 23 hours a day.

        • KlondikeSam

          I'm sorry this happened, but considering it WAS a pit bull mix and not just some mutt, the boy is extremely lucky the dog was so easily deterred. Most of the time, nothing short of a bullet will stop a pit bull. I have bred and trained large dogs for almost 40 years and handled dogs in the military and anyone who owns a pit bull or pit mix and thinks they can control it when it goes into "attack mode" is in for a rude awakening. The sooner pit bulls are banned, the better.

  • jackie smith

    I am not bashing the dog breed,but yes it was a pit mix dog,and yes the dog has bitten in the past back in 2009 the same dog bit another child (17 years old)911 was called and the child needed medical attention bad to this day the other young man as issues steming from the dog bite.My son was luck he saw it coming and prepared himself as best he could for the bite he punched the dog in the nose just as it was going to bite him,had it been one of the other children I would have hated to see what would have happened to them.I am the mother of Austin.I was told my the dog warden tht in the state of Pa. they can not force an owner to put the dog down but once it is deamed a dangerous dog he will have to follow stricter laws to keep the dog.I knew after the first attack that one day the dog would attack again and it did.

    • KlondikeSam

      If it were my son, I wouldn't wait for animal control to "put the dog down," I would see to that myself!

        • KlondikeSam

          Ever heard that old saying, "There's more than one way to skin a cat"? Well, there's more than one way to do just about anything else, too. If the owners of that monster do not willingly surrender it to be put down, the next child it attaks may end up dead or maimed for life.

  • Kelli Snyder

    I am very sorry for what happened to your son and I’m glad he’ll recover from his injuries. I completely agree with you that the dog’s owner should be held more accountable for his dog’s actions, especially if the dog has bitten in the past. Targeting the owner, not the dog, is the only way to increase safety in our communities. I think that’s something we can all agree on. I would be saying the same thing no matter what breed of dog was involved. Unless stricter laws are passed that require owners to be held more accountable for their pets – harsher fines, passing anti-tethering laws, etc. – the same cycle will be repeated.

    We cannot expect a dog that is tied up outside all day long without any real interaction with other people or animals to behave in the same way a socialized family dog would. And I would bet that the dog that bit your son falls into the “resident dog” category.

    • practicalone2

      Breed doesn't matter? Behavior is all about training and management? Then let's require spay/neuter for all pits, pit mixes, all dog aggressive dogs. No one who agrees with you should object, as when pits become few and far between, they can adopt any homeless dog and train/manage that dog to be their wonderful pet.

      Odd how everyone except for pit mongers do think that heritage/breed matters. Certainly the original pit men think that breed matters! They created the pit bull and they still use only pits for their fighting.

      Pits who live indoors, and come and go thru the dog door, have killed in the past month. (Monica Renee Laminack). Pits who live with their owner in a motel room have killed (Elsie Grace). Pits who live indoors have killed a visiting child, ripping the child from the adult owners arms (Daxton Borchard) Pits who live indoors with their beloved humans have killed their owners (Clifford Wright) Clifford was last seen watering his front yard, his beloved pit BULLY at his side.
      To suggest that socialization will prevent INSTINTIVE behavior is ludicrous. No one says that border collies will only chase sheep if they are kept away from sheep! No, the border collie instinct will still happen even if raised with sheep and with kids: many border collies will herd both.

      Good pits attack without reason and without warning and immediately do damage. Good pits do not stop easily. Your pit may not be a good pit (yet) but if she does become a GOOD pit, she will not give warning before attacking.

      Instinct is inside, invisible and it's impossible to know when it may surface and guide a dog's behavior.

      Our jails are already too full.
      Punishing the owner for owning a dog that was created to attack, after repeatedly telling the owner that his dog is safe, is ludicrous. It doesn't help the victim, doesn't help the mutant handicapped dog either.
      Letting pits, THE best dog for attacking /mauling/killing, to mercifully become extinct, does make a safer world.

      • Kelli

        Dogs identified as "pit bull" dogs (of which there are many) were also historically used as all-purpose farm dogs and many never stepped foot inside of a fighting ring. Also, the majority of pet dogs today are bred for looks, not purpose – and that goes for purebred dogs and mutts. One cocker spaniel may still have the drive to flush game while another may not present any type of drive. All dogs are individuals – no one dog is exactly the same as another.

        Again, banning the breed does NOT create safer communities. As another poster in this thread said, if one breed is banned, the same irresponsible individuals will turn to another breed, and then another, and then another. The root of the issue is not addressed in that situation.

    • KlondikeSam

      "… interaction with other people or animals …??? Dogs are ANIMALS, not people! Additionally, the dog in this case wasn't "tied up outside all day." The dog lived indoors — where it did NOT belong — and was let out occasionally to do its business. Dogs allowed to live indoors are maladjusted and much more likely to be aggressive when let outside than dogs that live outdoors. People who force large, enegetic dogs to live inside a house or apartment are guilty of animal cruelty and should be prosecuted. People need to stop listening to the dog freaks who try to humanize dogs and turn them into something they're not. Dogs are animals and with the exception of a few small lap dogs, they were bred to live outdoors. Finally, "targeting the owner" obviously hasn't worked because the dog attacked a second person. It's time someone targeted the dog and solved the problem once and for all.

  • Kim S.

    Sounds to me like the owner is irresponsible, especially since an incident occurred in the past. It also sounds like this dog was not a "family dog" and likely lived exclusively outside, with little interaction with people. That makes for an unhappy canine, regardless of the breed, as dogs are social animals. Many people use a pit bull's loyalty to his master in the wrong way, but banning the breed will not fix the problem, as these individuals will just move on to other breeds to carry on the "sport" as most dogs want to please their master. It is the "master" that is at fault. I commend your son for his brave actions in what must have been a very scary and dangerous situation. The dog owner needs to be held responsible, and if the animal is deemed dangerous (which it seems it is) then it should be put down.

    • KlondikeSam

      If it were an unchained dog that lived outside exclusively, the chances of it attacking are almost zero. The most dangerous dogs are those that live indoors and are only "let out" for short periods of time. In fact, such dogs are just as dangerous as those that remain chained all the time.

      • Kelli

        Can you point to backing sources of your statement that "the most dangerous dogs are those that live indoors?" How many millions of family pets live indoors and are never involved in instances of harm to others, whether that be people or other pets?

  • jackie smith

    The dog is not normally tied out ,the dog is kept inside the house most of the day all day is only taken out once in a while to do his buiness then right back inside the house.only tied out once in a while,just so happened it was tied out that day and got loose.Had the dog been muzzled this would have never happened ( owner knowing his dog bites he should have taken care as to prevent it )I also agree the dog needs to be put down since it is known to bite.The children in the neighorhood should feel safe to play out side but they dont anymore.

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