Bradley Fowler

In 2004, Bradley Fowler was living in a small town in the eastern United States — Brewster, Massachusetts. He was nine years old. On an autumn afternoon, Bradley went to a park in the nearby town of Dennis with his parents and the family dog. They went to participate in a celebration called “Paws in the Park.” This was a parade in which people walked through the park with their dogs. There were other activities for everyone to enjoy, and lots of food for the people and the dogs. Money was collected to help homeless animals

During the parade, Bradley noticed a table with some special dog treats on it. He wanted to get one for his own dog, so he left the parade and walked toward the table. As he did this, he happened to touch, very gently, the large dog that was walking in front of him.

This dog was a two-year-old English mastiff. It weighed over 100 kilograms and it was as tall as Bradley. The dog’s name was Winston. When Winston felt Bradley touch him, he immediately turned around, looked at Bradley, and growled. Bradley was frightened and held up his hand to protect himself. Then Winston attacked. He bit Bradley’s left hand, crushing it and tearing it with his powerful jaws. While Bradley’s hand was still inside Winston’s mouth, he tried to push the dog away with his right hand. Then Winston released Bradley’s left hand and bit his right hand.

Winston’s owner is Paul Iafrate. When Winston attacked Bradley, Paul was holding Winston on a short leash, but Winston was so strong that Paul could not control him. After Winston had bitten Bradley for the second time, Paul managed to pull the dog away. But it was too late. Bradley was already badly injured. He was covered in blood and screaming.

There was a cut on his left hand about four inches long and over one inch wide. Some of the bones were exposed and some of the ligaments were torn.

Bradley had to have an operation on his left hand and he had to do physical therapy for many months. His doctors said he might never be able to use this hand properly again. His right hand was not injured as badly as the left one and the doctors said that it would probably recover completely. But, for the time being, Bradley was not able to use either of his hands. They were both inside plastic braces.

Because he couldn’t use his hands, Bradley couldn’t go to school. He couldn’t even feed himself. He just sat in a chair in his living room with both his arms resting on pillows. Beside him, he had a stuffed dog that he had been given while he was in hospital. He called the dog ‘Winston.’ Bradley also had a little green bottle with bubbles in it. The bottle was given to him by a girl in the park just after he was bitten. He didn’t know the girl but he said he was very grateful for the gift and would like to thank her.

Winston’s owner, Paul, said he felt terrible about what happened. But he also says that Winston did not really attack Bradley. He says this is just the way Winston reacts when he’s startled. He also said that, when Bradley held up his hand, Winston probably thought Bradley was going to hit him. So he bit him.

Paul admitted that Winston had bitten people before. In fact, in the past, Winston had bitten both of Paul’s children. He said that, some time before, his son, who is also nine years old, was bitten on the lip by Winston. He had to be taken to hospital and nine stitches were required to close the cut. He said his daughter had also been bitten. Paul said that even though Winston had bitten children, he wanted to keep him. Winston was a really a good dog he said, and he only bit Bradley because he was nervous, and only bit his son because he was being teased.

The day after the attack on Bradley, Donna Drown contacted the animal control officer in the area, Cheryl Malone. Donna told Cheryl that she believed Winston had attacked her son, Alex, just before he had bitten Bradley. She said she had gone to the park with Alex and her two dogs. One of her dogs is part mastiff. When she saw Winston, she went to talk to his owner. While they were talking, she began patting Winston on the head. When Alex, who is five years old, reached out his hand, Winston suddenly grabbed his arm and took it into his mouth up to the elbow. She said Alex quickly pulled his arm out and was not hurt. His arm was covered with saliva however, and Paul gave the boy a towel to wipe it off.

Paul says this story is not true. He says he has never met Donna Drown. But Cheryl, the animal control officer says she has investigated and that she believes the story. She says Winston did attack two children at the celebration. But she also says that Paul will not be charged with a crime because he was not intending to commit a crime when he brought his dog to the park.

After the attack, Winston was quarantined at home for ten days. Paul said he was planning to send him to obedience school.

- information from: Cape Cod Times (Hyannis , Massachussetts, U.S.A.), 04.10.14 (Marc Parry); 4.10.15 (Marc Parry); 4.10.16 (Marc Parry)