EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

August 2, 2008

Toddler recovering after pit bull attack

ATKINSON — April Smithell had just jumped in the shower at her mother-in-law's house when she heard a scream.

She ran into the living room and found her 23-month-old son, Ronnie, covered in blood after being attacked by her in-law's 9-year-old pit bull, Hooch, she said.

"I've never seen so much blood in my life," Smithell said. "It was like a horror movie."

She became hysterical as she picked up her son after he had been bitten in the face. She held him in her arms and called 911.

Her son was seriously injured in the attack and underwent reconstructive surgery at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston on Thursday.

"Both of his eyes are swollen shut," she said. "And from his upper lip to his eyebrows is swollen.

"My child is unrecognizable. His twin sister won't even go near him. She's petrified to look at him."

Smithell said Ronnie had bite marks on five different parts of his face, including his nose and under his right eye, which each required stitches. In addition, part of his face had to be reconstructed by a plastic surgeon, she said.

She said she wasn't sure if it was just one or more than one bite that caused her son's injuries.

"Hooch has such a large head, it could have been one bite, but I'm not sure," Smithell said.

The incident happened shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday at the home of Cathy and Ronald Smithell Sr., the boy's paternal grandparents, on Waters Edge in Atkinson.

After treating the boy at the scene, firefighters transported him to Parkland Medical Center in Derry, where he was evaluated. He was then taken by ambulance to Massachusetts Eye and Ear, where he was kept for two nights and released yesterday.

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