Dog bites toddler in the face in Wailua

LIHUE — A toddler escaped serious injury from a dog attack Monday evening, thanks to her teenage sister who grabbed the animal by the neck and jaws, and punched it until it ran away yelping.

But little Allie Neeley-Ebesu still received three stitches to her right cheek.

“I was just trying to protect her,” said 14-year-old Celeste Neeley, adding she had a burst of adrenaline that led her to collar the dog and start throwing punches until it ran away. “I didn’t really think.”

It was soon after the girls’ mother, Cindee Neeley, went to work, that the encounter happened.

Celeste walked outside their home on Ohu Road in Wailua to take out the trash. Despite Celeste telling Allie to stay inside, the 4-year-old followed her big sister.

While Celeste was carrying the trash, a dog was apparently in the bushes near the house.

“I heard her say, ‘Hi,’” Celeste said. “That’s when I heard a growl and saw the dog lunge.”

Celeste said she turned and saw the dog snapping at Allie, who fell to the ground. The dog went for Allie’s arm, but Celeste reacted quickly and grabbed the animal by the neck and jaws.

As the dog tried to bite Celeste, she punched it about five times in the head, she said.

Meanwhile, the girls’ own dog, a Labrador retriever, barked from inside the house. The attacking dog, at this point whimpering, freed itself from Celeste and ran across Kuamoo Road, disappearing through a makeshift trail in the bushes.

Celeste said her little sister usually over-exaggerates when she gets hurt, but not this time. Allie was scared, but Celeste said she calmed her down, and put her on the phone with her mom, who later posted on Facebook how proud she was of her older daughter for her heroic, quick-thinking act.

 Celeste also took off Allie’s clothes to make sure there were no other injuries.

Celeste said she was proud of her younger sister for being brave during the whole ordeal.

“She handled it pretty well,” Celeste said.

Cindee Neeley said Allie’s godmother, Nicole Lucdarme, lives close by and went to check on the girls.

Then the police and paramedics showed up.

Once Neeley made it home, she took her daughter to Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital for further care.

Allie would not let the doctor stitch her cheek, so they had to wrap her in a blanket, and four people had to hold her down. Neeley said she was right by her daughter’s face, and all she could think was, “Oh, my God,” while trying to remain calm.

On Tuesday, Allie’s right cheek was still swollen, but she was in good spirits, Neeley said.

Celeste said she had never seen the dog before. It had long, wiry hair, was dirty and looked like it was either a stray or a hunting dog, but she couldn’t give a more detailed description because it was dark outside.

She said her sister usually tries to pet dogs, and that’s what might have triggered the dog attack.

A police report wasn’t available by The Garden Island deadline Tuesday.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com

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