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Exclusive: 6-Year-Old Girl Recovering After Dog Attack in Puna

By Tiffany DeMasters
November 15, 2021, 10:31 AM HST
* Updated November 15, 12:12 PM
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A 6-year-old Puna girl was released from the hospital just over a week ago and is recovering at home after she was attacked by two dogs in Mountain View.

Violet Beatte was bitten on her leg and face. She suffered two broken bones in her face and lost vision in one of her eyes after the animals took her to the ground on Nov. 4 while walking home from school with her sisters Layla, 11, and Faith, 15.

Hawaiʻi Police confirmed a dog bite occurred in the Puna District on that day. Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins said the dogs were voluntarily surrendered to animal control by the owner.

Patrol officers responded to the incident. By the time they arrived and made contact with the dogs’ owner, the animals were secured.

Amon-Wilkins said the incident is being investigated as a dangerous dog case. The lieutenant said the case will be routed to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney after more follow-up work is conducted.

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HPD spokesperson Denise Laitinen confirmed the dogs have been euthanized since the incident.

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If it wasn’t for Layla running to Violet’s aid, her mother Shalaye Newman believes her youngest child would probably be dead.

The 11-year-old recounted the afternoon of the attack. She told Big Island Now they regularly pass the house where the dogs are kept behind a gate as they walk to and from the bus stop.

“They always bark and jump around, but the gate is always closed,” Layla said.

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However, on that Thursday, the gate was open and the dogs got out.

Violet’s injuries after the dog attack. (PC: Shalaye Newman)

Violet trailed behind her sisters as they walked past the gate. Layla recalled seeing her sister get trampled by the two dogs.

“She was screaming, and I started screaming,” Layla recalled.

Layla said Violet was on her back when she ran toward her and attempted to put her arms underneath her sister to pull her out from under the dogs. The dog owners ultimately came out and grabbed the animals.

About 15 minutes later, Newman saw her daughters came walking up to their house. Faith was holding Violet in her arms while the 6-year-old held a bloody paper towel to her face.

At that point, no one had called 911.

When she saw Violet, Newman said she immediately began to cry and became frantic.

“My first question I asked was did anybody call 911,” Newman said. “I thought my baby was going to die.”

Newman herself ended up calling for first responders. An ambulance arrived and took Violet to Hilo Medical Center. She was later flown to Oʻahu and was treated at Kapiʻolani Medical Center. She came home on Sunday, Nov. 7.

It’s been the most heartbreaking week of my life,” Newman said.

Newman said doctors are concerned about the 6-year-old’s vision but believe it will be restored. Newman added Violet may also need additional surgery on her orbital bone under her eye.

“Only time will tell if it will heal correctly,” she said.

Since they’ve returned home, Violet is having a hard time seeing and walking, “but not a hard time smiling.”

“She keeps calling Layla her hero,” Newman said.

As Layla recalled the attack, she said the only fear she felt as she ran toward Violet was the danger her sister was in.

“My mom always taught us that our little sister is our responsibility. I just wanted to make sure she was as safe as possible,” Layla said.

Newman told Big Island Now she has taught her daughters to watch out for each other, especially the youngest.

“Iʻve raised great girls,” Newman said. “Layla felt like she didn’t do enough when she probably saved (Violet’s) life.”

Newman is in awe of the resilience of all three of her daughters. However, she is concerned about their mental health down the road.

“Iʻm having nightmares about dogs,” Layla said. “Iʻm pretty scared.”

Newman said her three daughters have been brave throughout the ordeal.

“We’ve definitely been struggling with everything, but the fact that they can still smile through it gives me so much admiration for them,” the mother added.

A Go Fund Me account has been created to help Newman with Violet’s medical costs. Click here to help.

This is the second dog attack in the Puna area within three months. In September, an elderly woman died after police say she was attacked by three dogs in August.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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