Local News

Toddler undergoes 14-hour surgery after Raleigh dog attack

Posted November 29, 2015 5:52 p.m. EST
Updated January 6, 2016 7:01 p.m. EST

— 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.