Dog attack forces teen to endure multiple surgeries

Published 6:58 pm Saturday, November 2, 2013

JONES — Two months after being viciously attacked by a family member’s dog, a Jones teenager is undergoing numerous surgeries as he continues to recover from his injuries.

Tristan Scott, a freshman at Billingsley High School, had walked about a half-mile from his home to his cousin’s house in Jones on Sept. 10 to watch movies with family members.

Scott, having arrived earlier than others, was in the process of helping his cousins unload groceries from their truck, when the family’s pit bull leapt up, biting his face.

Email newsletter signup

The attack was devastating. The dog, which was later put down, had done almost indescribable damage.

“The skin, from what I understand, was ripped all the way across his hairline,” said Tristan’s mother, Janell Scott. “The dog caught him under the nose and under the hairline, making kind of a horse shoe indention over his eyebrow. He has a scar from one side of his hairline to the other side, and down all the way to his nose.”

Since Tristan had walked to his cousin’s house before she headed that way, Janell did not witness the attack herself, and had to catch up with the family who had already raced him to Vaughn Regional Medical Center in Selma.

“I was five minutes behind him. When I got down there, they told me what happened, and I rushed to the hospital and they were just getting in and trying to figure out what to do for him,” Janell said.

After staying in Selma for a few hours, Tristan was transported by ambulance to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. He was eventually transported to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

“UAB is a trauma hospital, and they had done just about all they could up there,” Janell said. “At UAB, they told us they had never seen a person that torn up actually live.”

Janell said her son has undergone several surgeries to repair the extensive damage left caused by the attack.

“They took the skin out of his mouth to reconstruct the nasal passages up to his skull,” Janell said. “They took the skin off of his forehead and turned it around and brought it down to make him a nose covering, and they took and put some of the skin up separating his eye balls.”

Janell said damage to his sinuses left Tristan extremely vulnerable to infection, something his doctors are well aware of.

“They are doing outpatient surgeries on him because they don’t want him around people,” Janell said. “If he gets a cold or if he gets sick, he can’t blow his nose. It would undo everything they have done.”

Tristan’s sister, Mischia Flood, is living in Minneapolis with her husband and has been able to spend time with him as he works to recover, a blessing for him since his mother is disabled and unable to join him in Minnesota.

Flood said the road to recovery will not be easy for her younger brother.

“Right now he is between surgeries,” Flood said. “So he goes back in early November for another check up to see how the swelling is going down, to see when to schedule his next surgery.”

Flood said the surgical results have already done more than she could imagine.

“He looks good considering he had no nose to begin with,” Flood said. “They’re thinking he should have three or four more surgeries, to where he is comfortable with it. But, I mean, he has lots of scars.”

Able to speak this week over the telephone, Tristan said he is beginning to come to grips with what happened, and what lies ahead for him.

”I’ve had to sit down and think about what happened and try to remember how it happened,” Tristan said. “I mean, when you get bit by a dog, you look at yourself differently.”

Along with the constant attention by family and medical personnel in both Alabama and Minnesota, Tristan said the outpouring of support from the staff and students at Billingsley High School has really been something humbling to receive.

“It made me feel kind of depressed,” Tristan said. “I didn’t think everybody noticed me at school, until I realized that everybody wants me back at school.”

With several surgeries behind him, and several more likely in his future, Tristan said he is doing his best.

“I’m holding up OK,” he said.

A checking account at Wells Fargo has been established to help pay for some of the mounting medical expenses.