DURHAM — Lara Bryant turns 7 Saturday, but her party's being postponed while she recovers from severe facial injuries caused by a pit bull attack.
Her parents are thankful their daughter is on the mend, but they're now determined to persuade Durham leaders to ban pit bulls within the city limits.
The pit bull mix will be euthanized for biting Lara on the lip and cheek Tuesday afternoon.
Lara, of 1409 Imperial Drive, suffered serious injuries Wednesday afternoon when the 3-year-old, 70-pound dog lunged at her in her front yard.
The dog was being walked by its owner, Malcoma Al-Amin, about 6 p.m. when it broke free from its leash, said Cindy Bailey, administrator of Durham County Animal Control.
Lara tried to grab the dog's leash when it ran into her yard. That's when the dog pounced.
"She was missing part of her lip, and she had blood coming from her mouth and from her face," the girl's mother, Micah, said, her voice quivering.
"She was hysterical. I was hysterical."
The girl was taken to Duke Hospital for treatment and was home Wednesday resting.
"They stitched it up really good," her father, David, said.
"She's doing really good. She doesn't look really good. She's a beautiful girl. We're just hoping she can get back to how she was."
Micah Bryant said the dog earlier had tried to attack two adult neighbors.
"This dog was known already to be aggressive," she said. "This could have been prevented."
Animal Control's Bailey said it was the worst dog attack on a human she has seen in years.
She said she's surprised this particular dog was responsible.
The neutered male dog was up to date on vaccinations and appeared to be well handled.
"It wasn't your typical, chained-out-in-the-yard pit bull that's poorly socialized," Bailey said.
Al-Amin could not be reached for comment.
The dog will be quarantined until Oct. 6 to allow officials to look for signs of rabies.
Then it will be put to death.
"The Animal Protection Society would never put an animal that would attack in such a savage way out for adoption, period," Bailey said, explaining the decision to euthanize.
"This is a dog that has bitten this child severely. This is sad, especially for the victim and the victim's family. These types of injuries could require additional medical care and leave emotional scars as well as the physical ones."
Lara's parents don't want anyone else to suffer as they have.
"This time it was our daughter," Micah Bryant said.
"Next time it's going to be someone else's, and they might lose their lives."
The Bryants are starting a petition to ban pit bulls in Durham.
They're also going to figure out when they'll celebrate Lara's Lucky Seven, a little late.
"She definitely will have a birthday party -- when she's feeling a little better," Micah Bryant said.
Staff writer Matt Dees can be reached at 956-2433 or email@example.com.