Pit bull owner arraigned following attack on girl

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A woman faced a judge in a Chula Vista courtroom Thursday two days after her pit bull allegedly mauled a 4-year-old girl.

Brittany Morgan Gardiner, 22, was arraigned on one count of having a dangerous dog that caused great bodily injury. It’s a felony charge with a maximum sentence of three years.

Investigators said Hailey Nunez suffered serious injuries to her face and upper body after the dog she was trying to pet attacked her. The child was taken from the Laurel Avenue apartment complex in National City to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego where she underwent surgery, her mother said.

“We are so sorry for what happened to poor Haley,” said Sarah Gardiner, defendant’s cousin. “She knew the dog and she pet the dog more than once and it’s a shock to all of us.”

“We understand the emotional scarring this child is going to have to endure for the rest of her life,” said Maria Gardiner, defendant’s mother. “But my daughter as well is going to have to endure. She has to face the family and the child for something that her dog did, that she’s going to be punished for.”

Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb Gardiner might be a flight risk and asked for her bail to remain at $25,000.

“After this attack happened,” said Loeb. “This four year old girl is sitting there with her face torn up, bleeding everywhere and the defendant grabbed her dog, went to her apartment gathered her belongings and went to her car. When the cops got there she was trying to drive away. They stopped her from doing so, but when they did, she admitted that she was headed to Tijuana.”

The judge said she will consider a supervised release during a bail review next Monday.

“She’s a 22-year-old kid who is trying to get her life in order and has never been in trouble with the law,” said Maria Gardiner. “She completely panicked under pressure. Anybody who knows her or has been in contact with my daughter, knows that she has a big heart.”

Gardiner’s family members said they have talked to the victim’s family and sent their “deepest concerns.”

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