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Mother of mauled boy flees NC after DSS threatens to take other children

Posted January 29

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— The mother of a 7-year-old Robeson County boy who died after being mauled by a neighbor's dog last weekend said Friday that she is prepared to miss her son's funeral to protect her other children.

Jamie West said in an exclusive interview with WRAL News that she's being treated unfairly by social workers who want to take her five other children away while she mourns the loss of her youngest son.

Talen West and his 8-year-old brother were playing in the woods near a home at 2484 Odum Road in Lumberton late Sunday morning when they encountered a neighbor’s pit bull, which attacked both boys. Talen later died at a nearby hospital, while his brother survived.

Jamie West said she believes the incident reopened a 5-year-old rift between her and the Robeson County Department of Social Services, so she left North Carolina with her children after social workers said they would take custody of the children after Talen's funeral.

"I could go to the service with my children," West said she was told. "They would not walk in there to get them during the service, but pretty much after it was over and we left ... I could hand them over.

"Could you just let me bury my baby?" she said.

DSS officials said they couldn't comment on the case.

Visitation for Talen was Friday night, and his funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Mortuary on East 5th Street in Lumberton.

West said she plans to stay away from the funeral and stay out of North Carolina as long as necessary to keep her other children with her. DSS had taken them away before, but she was able to win back custody.

"I can't bring back Talen, but I can hold on to my five," she said.

All of the children are with her in an undisclosed location, and they are holding up the best they can, she said.

"I have prepared all of them that, if something happens and they have to leave, I let them know that I will be back to get them," she said.

34 Comments

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  • Chase Truman Feb 3, 2016
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    There has to be something more to this story. I doubt Social Services is threatening to take her other children because of this incident. Clearly she has had problems caring for them before now. My guess is she was visited at her house after the attack (perhaps by police investigating the incident) and they noticed things were not up to par for children to be there, and then notified Social Services. There is a huge gap in this story, but I'd bet money that they aren't taking her children just because she let them play too far from home and is being "blamed" for this attack.

  • Iris Hindle Feb 2, 2016
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    My heart goes out to this family and the children they have lost; not having children I can't imagine how much pain they must be feeling. I am also sad for the owner of those dogs, can you imagine how much guilt they feel?

    And yes, I do own a pitbull that I have raised since she was three weeks old because some heartless person threw her away to die. She has basic obedience training and received her Good Canine Citizenship training. I have never seen her even raise an eyebrow toward anyone BUT with that being said, she is never off leash when outside of the 7 foot privacy fence in my backyard. I am a responsible Pit Bull owner but know as a dog, there could be a time she might bite.

    In the UK they have a breed ban on pit bulls and have seized many family pets that have never bitten anyone. Here is the funny thing, with that ban in place the number of dog attacks HAS NOT decreased.

    Let's get off the issue of what type of dog it was and let's focus on the family in this.

  • Mary Meadows Jan 31, 2016
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    Mark it's pretty obvious she meant to type whole and auto correct changed it. I'm not sure about desktops but I personally have no way to edit my own comments on my hand held.

  • Mark Colyer Jan 31, 2016
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    ...are you an English major?

  • Mark Colyer Jan 31, 2016
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    ...really? Get a grip.

  • Kim Plucker Jan 30, 2016
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    I would be interested in why they were taken before, before this incidence.

  • Donald Holder Jan 30, 2016
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    i'm betting that DSS wanting to take the other kids is not because of the dog incident. That's just what got them out there in the first place.

  • Donald Holder Jan 30, 2016
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    most likely that's the reason Jason.

  • Donald Holder Jan 30, 2016
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    because DSS doesn't send negligent dog owners to prison.

  • Janet Ghumri Jan 30, 2016
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    And, WRAL, why did you use such an awful photo of the mom? Trying to make her look bad skews the judgement of some people, and reflects poorly on the reporters and editors. Please show better discretion

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