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Boy mauled by dog still in serious condition

CONYERS - A 4-year-old boy who was mauled by a pit bull-mix remained in serious condition at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite on Tuesday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Nathaniel Stafford underwent surgery again Tuesday afternoon, the spokeswoman said, although she could not elaborate on the procedure.

Nathaniel was taken to Scottish Rite by air ambulance April 14 after he was mauled in the backyard of his Granite Drive home by a dog. According to the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, the dog attacked the child, ripping off his scalp and badly damaging one ear.

Brian Caron, who was listed as a witness in the incident report and who identified himself as the boy's stepfather, said Tuesday the child is doing well, but doctors at Scottish Rite were unable to reattach his scalp. Caron also said it is unknown if the child will lose his right ear, which was nearly severed in the attack.

Caron said Nathaniel is expected to undergo surgeries for skin grafts for up to a year and will have to wear a ball cap for two years to protect his skin.

The dog, which Caron described as a pit bull-Labrador mix, remains at Rockdale Animal Control, according to a spokesperson there. Sheriff Jeff Wigington said last week that the dog's owner has agreed to have the animal euthanized.

Caron said the dog, which is a little over a year old, belonged to a former neighbor who had lost his house and had asked that Caron's family keep the animal while the neighbor relocated.

Caron said the neighbor asked to leave the dog with him for three days, but the stay extended to nearly a month. Caron said the dog was chained to a run that stretched between two trees about 100 feet or more from his house. He said Nathaniel had petted the dog under supervision a couple of times but had not been allowed to play with the dog.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the attack occurred sometime last Tuesday afternoon. Nathaniel's mother reportedly realized her son had left the house and she went outside to look for him.

"She heard her son whimper over a small hill. She started to run toward him. She saw a red dog dragging her son and grabbed him away while kicking the dog, which also bit her on the right arm," according to the incident report.

The victim's mother carried him into the house where she called 911. She then drove him to Rockdale Medical Center for treatment and he was later transported to Scottish Rite.

Wigington said last week that the incident remains under investigation and charges may be pending.

News editor Aimee Jones contributed to this report.