Local News

Toddler undergoes 14-hour surgery after Raleigh dog attack

Posted November 29, 2015
Updated January 6, 2016

— A 21-month-old boy who was injured in a dog attack was recovering Sunday after having two surgeries, one of which lasted 14 hours.

Ryder's parents, who asked that their last name not be used, said he’s a typical little boy, but there’s one thing that stands out about him.

“He’s fierce. That’s what he is, he’s fierce,” said Ryder’s mother, Brittany.

This week, more than ever before, he is proving it. The family was visiting friends at a home at 2312 Euston Street in Raleigh for the holidays. The toddler found his way into the backyard where two rottweiler dogs – one belonging to Ryder's family and one belonging to the homeowners – were being kept.

Brittany said the whole thing happened in less than five minutes.

“I looked out the back door, and I didn’t see him and then all of a sudden, I saw him lying [there] and it was ‘Oh my god, he’s in trouble,'” said Brittany.

Ryder was attacked by one or possibly both dogs in the backyard and was immediately taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The family had been visiting from Statesville since Thursday and said that the dogs had not previously shown signs of aggression.

Recovering from surgeries at UNC Hospitals, Ryder was heavily sedated, responding sometimes with just a squeeze of a finger. Ryder's parents said he is most responsive when he speaks to his 5-year-old brother via phone.

“When I talk to him, I tell him there’s a bunch of people out there that are thinking about him and I tell him he has an army,” said Brittany.

Prayer chains for Ryder have sprung up across the country and even as far away as Australia. A Facebook group offering support for Ryder and updates on his condition had more than 900 members Sunday afternoon.

The family said that the prayers and support help, but it hasn’t gotten rid of the guilt they feel even though police said they found no signs of negligence.

“I do feel responsible because I wasn’t there. I couldn’t help him. So everybody should just hug your baby tight. Anything can happen,” said Brittany.

Knowing anything can happen to anyone at a minute's notice now has the family focusing on what matters most.

“Ryder is still going. He’s still fierce and we’re still here,” said Brittany.

Ryder was in stable condition on Sunday and was expected to undergo another surgery on Wednesday. His mother will likely be out of work for months in order to care for her son, and a Go Fund Me page has been created to help ease the financial burden the family faces. The family plans to relocate to Chapel Hill while Ryder recovers.

“This is Ryder’s life now. He will be in here for months, and he will have surgeries for years,” said Brittany.

The dogs remained quarantined Sunday evening.


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  • Benjamin Kite Nov 30, 2015
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    It was the homeowner's family dog, not the visiting family's dog. If the homeowner's dog's intent had been to kill the boy, rather than merely injure him, the boy would be dead. A rottweiler can easily finish that job, but CHOSE not to. The homeowner ought to know their dog well enough to have prevented it.

  • James Grimes Jr. Nov 30, 2015
    user avatar

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    Because they will be euthanized for something that isn't their fault. If the parentals had been watching the child, as they should have been, none of this would have happened.

  • Brian Hoggard Nov 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Amazing how many people seem more concerned with the dogs than with the child.

  • Catherine Hancock Nov 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Even without criminal charges, the poor parents are still being punished. They have to watch their child suffer constantly. That is worse punishment than prison.

    The property owners/residents are not at fault here either. They separated their dog from the child. They took the necessary precautions.

    Regardless of the breed, dogs have 2 options when scared or threatened: fight or flight. None of us know what preceded the attack. Did the dog feel cornered and therefore could not take flight? Did the child startle the dog by grabbing its tail? Did the child poke the dog in the eye? Did the child BITE the dog? None of us can answer these questions, therefore we should not be so quick to condemn the dogs.

  • James Grimes Jr. Nov 30, 2015
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    One of the dogs was the friend's, the other was the boy's family dog. Either way, one of the dogs saw the boy as a threat. Being they were visiting, the parentals should have had their eyes on him. It's called child neglect; and nothing should happen to the dogs because they were doing what they do.

  • Brian Jones Nov 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Dogs that attempt to rip the faces off of babies and toddlers..for any reason whatsoever................have no place in human society.

  • cdurham Nov 30, 2015

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    Janet, some dog breeds have a high prey instinct and Rottweilers are one of them. Personally, I prefer to have a small dog. If something goes wrong it should be easier to control. I agree that people also come into play regarding a dog's behavior. We found a pitbull mix. She is very nice to other dogs, but is scared of kids. When she is walked we discourage parents from letting their kids run up to her. She hasn't snapped at anyone, but caution should always be used.

  • Brian Jones Nov 30, 2015
    user avatar

    If a couple of Rottweiler owners, invite guests to their house........and their rottweiler half rips the face off of their guest's helpless 25 lb child.....Their might need to be some criminal charges made..........................Oh yeah, nice remark by my owner "he's never acted aggressive, that isn't my dog."....Heard it before.

  • Alyssa Marie Castelli Nov 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Honestly I am disgusted at most of the comments here, Just proves how close minded people are today in assuming things to make invalid points. Let's think logically here people, you are a dog and are trained your whole life to protect your property and the lives of whom you know, if something strange waddled into my territory, its not shocking for something to happen. Be it a large dog or a Pug. Yes this is at the fault of the parents for not being aware of where their child was for such an extended period of time however they don't need to be arrested or charged either. As a government FOR the people, maybe we should stop using it AGAINST the people. I will be greatly let down if I hear of either animal, WHILE STATED has never shown aggression before, is euthanized or a parent is in trouble. And shame on all of you whom are throwing out how bad certain breeds are when one wasn't even mentioned. I'm gonna go spoon my Rottweiler now, wish me luck guys!!!!

  • Real Libertine Nov 30, 2015
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    Aren't children, especially at this age, a 24/7 responsibility? If one isn't prepared to take on that level of responsibility then please don't breed.

    I hope an alternative solution can be found for the dogs. Rottweilers are beautiful, loving dogs -- they are also very protective of their humans.