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Dogs maul local child

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A 6-year-old Columbus girl underwent emergency surgery in an Indianapolis hospital hours after being attacked by a pair of Rottweilers in northwest Jennings County.

Joslin Soto, the daughter of Jeremy Soto and Heidi Cooley, suffered wounds to her leg, chest and head during the Saturday afternoon incident, Jennings County Animal Control Officer Michelle Acton said.

Joslin, who was flown by LifeLine helicopter to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, was listed in fair condition Monday and is expected to make a full recovery, said Matthew Cooley, her stepfather.

The 5:40 p.m. attack took place at a residence just south of Scipio near the intersection of Jennings County Roads 575W and 600N, said Maj. Jerry Shepherd of the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

The girl, known as Josie to her family, was with Cooley as he was feeding the dogs owned by the child’s grandfather, Tim Hadley, Shepherd said.

Although Cooley had just locked the top part of the gate to the dogs’ pen to keep the Rottweilers in, the animals managed to break free by pushing open the bottom before Cooley could secure it, Acton said.

When the frightened girl began to scream and back up, the dogs — which weigh between 120 and 150 pounds each — pounced on her, Acton said.

“It was a vicious attack,” Cooley said. “They were trying to kill her.”

While Cooley said he tried to divert the attention of the animals toward himself, he was unable to hold off both Rottweilers at the same time.

“As soon as I would grab one dog, the other one would immediately jump on Josie,” said Cooley, who said the dogs were not nearly as vicious and aggressive with him as they were with his stepdaughter.

Cooley said he finally threw himself on top of Josie, so neither of the dogs could get to her.

A neighbor who had heard the attack arrived and shot both dogs, Cooley said. While the youngest dog was killed instantly, the wounded older dog ran back into the pen after being shot, Cooley said.

The surviving canine was taken from the property and placed into quarantine by the Jennings County Animal Control Department, Acton said.

Once the investigation headed by Deputy Aaron Green is complete, a report will be forwarded to the office of Jennings County Prosecutor Alan Marshall for review, Shepherd said.

While the girl did not suffer internal damage, her physicians asked that she remain hospitalized a few days as a precaution against infection or other complications, Cooley said.

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