The family of Lena Dickerson is suing Disneyland claiming the toddler was attacked and bitten by a dog in the park’s petting zoo in 2006. According to this Fox News report, Lena, just 2 years old at the time, was mauled by a German Shepherd-Labrador Retriever mix on Oct. 3 2006. The dog reportedly bit the child several times on the face leaving her permanently scarred.
Court documents state than a Disneyland employee brought her 6-year-old dog to the park, two weeks before the incident. The dog had been placed on a box in the Big Thunder petting zoo. A park employee invited children to pet the animal, while holding its leash. Lena had petted the dog and was just about to leave when the dog lunged at her and attacked her.
Apparently, the shelter from which the dog had been adopted had called the dog “not very social” and even stated that the animal had a history of being aggressive. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the family’s medical costs and emotional trauma as well as punitive damages. Disney officials have not commented yet on this lawsuit. But I’d be very curious to know how and why the theme park allowed an employee to bring a dog and ask children to pet it. Especially given the history of the dog, it is appalling that the owner brought it to a public place filled with vulnerable young children and infants.
Also intriguing is Disneyland’s role in the incident. Did officials or administrators know that this employee had this dog at the park for two weeks? There is no question that if the details stated in this lawsuit are true, Disneyland could be held liable for this dog bit accident and the girl’s injuries. Disneyland should also be penalized and made to pay punitive damages to the family. Punitive damages are usually awarded to victims in cases where the intention is to punish the defendant and to discourage the conduct of the type the defendant engaged in.
I cannot imagine the emotional distress the child and her family went through following the dog attack. Another news report stated that the girl was so badly mauled that the parents had to cover up mirrors in their house so she wouldn’t see her own reflection. You cannot put a price on going through such trauma with your little one. Disneyland should promptly settle with the girl and her family and put safeguards in place to make sure this never happens again.