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A two-year old child in Norphlet received severe injuries last week after being mauled by three dogs at a relative’s house.

Animal Control Officer Charles Hartsell was asleep last Thursday when he got a call around midnight from the Union County Sheriff’s Office to tell him about the child, who was by then in the emergency room.

The child sustained severe injuries to his abdomen and head, Hartsell said; he was airlifted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital Thursday night and has since started recovery.

The child was staying with his aunt and uncle in Norphlet when the attack occurred; it was a place the child stayed often. He was getting up from the couch, where he and his uncle were lying down, when the attack happened, according to the police report.

All three of the dogs managed to bite the child, the police report said, with the worst damage being dealt to his head and gut. The child’s uncle threw himself over the child to protect him from the dogs when he could not calm them down.

“He laid down on top of the boy to keep the dogs from attacking him more,” Hartsell said. “When his wife came to the door and saw it, she thought the dogs were attacking her husband because she couldn’t see the boy, he was laying on top of him. She hollered for their son to come in and she grabbed one of the dogs, he grabbed the other, and I guess the third one wasn’t doing much of anything. Put them up, called an ambulance and that’s what they’ve told me.”

After the attack, Hartsell allowed the family to keep the dogs overnight; they met at El Dorado Animal Hospital Friday morning at opening time. The dogs were checked to ensure they had current rabies vaccinations before being euthanized.

The child’s uncle received a citation for keeping dangerous and vicious dogs. Hartsell noted that the family’s dogs were well-loved; however, the pack mentality can make any dog aggressive, he said.

“You can’t undo the boy getting hurt. He’s hurt, so you have to stop it somewhere. You don’t want nothing else to happen,” Hartsell said. “Those dogs never slept a night outside; they weren’t mistreated; they weren’t on chains. They weren’t any of that. But when you get more than one dog, you get the pack mentality and I’m sure that’s part of it.”

At least one of the dogs had been aggressive recently. According to a UCSO police report, the day before the child was attacked, his aunt’s mother was also treated at the Medical Center of South Arkansas for bites to her forearm and other scratches, which she said came from one of her daughter’s dogs.

“They have a history,” Hartsell said of the dogs.

Hartsell said the dogs had also previously killed another dog at the Corner One Stop in Norphlet. An owner could not be found for the dog that was killed, so Hartsell could not cite the family then for animal cruelty, he said.

“People – they’re not responsible with these dogs and they don’t need these types of dogs if they’re not going to be responsible,” Hartsell said.

To report a dangerous, aggressive or loose animal, contact ACO Hartsell at 870-881-4162.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or

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