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Lakeland girl attacked by pit bulls returns home | News

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Lakeland girl attacked by pit bulls returns home

Lakeland, FL -- A Lakeland girl is back home for the first time since a vicious pit bull attack last week sent her to the hospital -- and it's clear some of Alicia Battles' scars may take longer to heal than others.

"She's fearful. She's fearful," said Alicia's father, Antonio Neil.

Alicia, her small body still riddled with stitches and drainage tubes, entered her family's back yard for the first time since she was mauled by a pair of pit bulls last week.

She was gripped by fear as memories of the vicious attack came rushing back.

"I remember they were chasing me and then they knocked me down," she said.

Still, 6-year-old Alicia was glad to be home and out of the hospital.

She's lucky, doctors tell her parents, that it wasn't worse. Alicia suffered one bite critically close to her internal organs. Another just missed an artery.

"I'm very angry. That's my baby," said Neil.

Alicia's father says they'll have to go back to the hospital sometime this week to have the tubes removed from her wounds.

The dogs, for now, remain at Polk County Animal Control. 

Alicia hopes they never come back.

"Can you get rid of them?" she asked. "And take them somewhere far, far away?"

The answer may lie with the dogs' owner, neighbor Tanya Morse, who has declined to comment.

Initially, say officers, Morse refused to relinquish custody of the animals, despite at least two previous biting incidents.

Alicia's father says that is unacceptable.

"It shows that she's not concerned about a human life. She's more concerned about dogs than a human life. You know, my baby could have died," he said.

Alicia's parents have tried repeatedly to assure her the pit bulls won't be jumping back over the backyard fence any time soon, if ever again.

Polk County Animal Services has also started the formal process now of taking possession of the dogs.

Today they asked Morse again to sign them over but she declined. Instead, she asked, in writing, for a hearing December 19th.

During that hearing the fate of the animals will likely be decided.


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