Sheriff: Woman arrested after her dogs attacked Lawrence County boy

·2 min read

Sep. 14—MOULTON — The co-owner of five dogs that attacked a 9-year-old Lawrence County boy as he rode his bike, causing severe injuries, was arrested today and charged with a felony.

The boy, Gavin Peoples, remains in Huntsville Hospital after Saturday's attack with more than 30 bites that caused puncture wounds and lacerations.

Tanya Lynn Emery, 36, of Moulton, was charged under a 2018 law that makes it a crime if a dog known by its owner to be dangerous causes physical injury due to the owner's reckless disregard of the dog's propensities. It is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Emery was being held today in Lawrence County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond, according to Lawrence County Chief Deputy Brian Covington.

Gavin was riding his bike on Lawrence County 582, a dead-end road, when he was attacked by a pit bull and four mixed-breed dogs, Covington said. The co-owner of the dogs was in jail on an unrelated charge and Emery, his girlfriend, was tending to the dogs, Covington said.

Under the state law, a dog's owner includes anyone who "harbors a dog, or who has a dog in his or her care or acts as the custodian of a dog."

The law, called "Emily's Law," was named after Emily Colvin, a Jackson County woman who was attacked and killed by a pack of dogs in 2017.

The law also authorizes euthanizing dangerous dogs, which was carried out by a veterinarian Saturday. The dogs tested negative for rabies, Covington said.

The Sheriff's Office said neighbors pulled the dogs from the boy and rendered first aid until emergency responders arrived.

Stephanie Overton, Gavin's mother, said in a social media post today that her son is struggling with the emotional trauma of the incident as well as his physical injuries. Hospital staff, she said, are helping him work through that.

"So today became a mental health day. We need to get his head back into fight mode," Overton wrote. A hospital therapist "talks to him about what's going on and basically says she knows it sucks but they are gonna get through this.

"She came back today with goodies. He got to write the things he hated about the hospital and then got to squirt paint on them. That made a BIG difference. We are realizing now that we have been so focused on his physical that I didn't take a step back to think about his mental."

eric@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2435. Twitter @DD_Fleischauer.