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4-year-old dog mauling victim returns to Thurston County home after two surgeries

Four-year-old Gavin Tobeck squealed with joy and ran into the arms of his sister Serenity, 6, and brother David, 7, Wednesday afternoon in the front yard of their apartment near Lacey.

During the next hour, there would be hugs, new toys to play with, chocolate pudding cups to eat, followed by more hugs and more pudding.

On April 1, Gavin was mauled by Smash, the family’s newly adopted pit bull, while they were in the backyard. The boy has several broken bones, including his jaw, cheekbone and the bridge of his nose. He underwent two surgeries at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle before he was able to come home.

“They had to take a piece of his rib and fix his eye sockets,” said his mom, Alissa Evans, 29. “But you can’t tell. The plastic surgeons up there are miracle workers.”

Gavin was discharged from the hospital late Tuesday. Evans said he’s recovering faster than she had expected.

“I was bit by the dog,” Gavin said. “He’s a bad one.”

To keep Gavin from seeing the damage to his face, Evans covered the mirrors in her apartment with towels.

The preschooler has asked his mom to check and ensure Smash isn’t upstairs or in the backyard, Evans said. She tries to assure him that the dog will never be able to hurt him again.

The family adopted the 102-pound dog March 16 from a friend of their neighbor. Smash is 1 1/2 years old; although authorities originally called him an American bulldog, Evans said he’s a “blue nose pit.” She added that he’s not registered and doesn’t have papers, but she knows he’s a pit bull.

Susanne Beauregard, director of Thurston County Animal Services, said Smash is a “Pit Bull XL,” a line of pit bulls bred to be extra large.

As of late Thursday, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Cliff Ziesemer said the dog was still in quarantine, and would be euthanized “after they make sure rabies isn’t a factor.” Evans said her understanding is that it could happen as early as Saturday; Ziesemer said a firm date has not been set.

“There are people who are trying to fight to get him,” Evans said.

But Evans said she believes ending the dog’s life is the right thing because he turned so quickly on her son.

Evans said Smash was raised with kids and had never bitten a person until last week. She said she was outside and only a few feet away from the dog and boy, who were playing in the backyard, when she saw something that she’d never seen before: The dog was ready to attack Gavin.

Evans said she reached over to try to prevent him from hurting Gavin, and Smash bit her and pushed her to the ground. Then he went for the boy.

Evans tried to get Smash away from her son, she said, but it took her friend dumping a cup of hot coffee on the dog and kicking him to get him to stop. After that, they ran into the house and called 911.

Evans’ neighbor Teresa LeGrand said people posted untrue online comments on media stories about the attack. Some people assumed the boy did something to agitate the dog, but he hadn’t. Others said Evans left the boy alone with the dog, but that wasn’t true, either.

“She helped save his life,” LeGrand said. “She stopped (the dog) from killing him.”

Evans said she knows her son’s facial wounds will heal, but she worries about the effects of the trauma. She doesn’t want him to develop a fear of dogs. So far, he’s successfully interacted with LeGrand’s small dog.

“He already said he wants another one,” Evans said. “Just not a big one.”

Because of the attack, Gavin lost five baby teeth and three permanent tooth buds. He only has two teeth on top, so he’ll need to eat soft food until his permanent ones arrive.

Evans said her insurance won’t cover all of the dental repairs that Gavin will need, so she began raising money for the work. For more information, go to gofundme.com/ref74w.

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