Jamison Clark is all smiles as she instructs Cooper, the family’s Staffordshire terrier mix, to stay as she backs away.
After he follows the command, he trots to Jamison to receive his treat and a head rub.
Scott and Noel Clark of Marietta watch with a mixture of pride and wonder.
Not long ago, they thought they would never see Jamison interact with a dog again.
Two years ago, Jamison was staying at a friend’s home for a sleepover when she was attacked by the family dog.
Instead of avoiding dogs, though, Jamison, 13, recently turned her energy to helping them.
As part of a class project at the Wood Acres School, Jamison collected pet food, blankets, beds, toys, shampoo, towels, cleaning products and other supplies and donated them to the Fulton County Animal Services. She made flyers, put donation boxes throughout the school and talked with other students about the need to help.
She looked at a number of shelters and rescue groups before deciding on Fulton County.
“I love dogs,” she said. “Fulton not only needed help, but there are a lot of pit bulls there and I was really interested in helping pit bulls. People say bully breeds are vicious, but they’re not. Cooper is super sweet.”
The donation “was very generous,” said Karen Hirsch, a spokeswoman for the LifeLine Animal Project, which is managed by Fulton County Animal Services. “We’re always touched when children take it upon themselves to try to do something good for others. In this case, it will make our animals more comfortable.”
Her father said he’s “proud of the fact that Jamison cares enough to get involved, to try to play some small part in helping others, helping animals and making a difference in her community. The fact that it happens to be an animal shelter she chooses to help given her history just reminds me of how brave and strong she is.”
When Scott Clark got the call that his daughter had been bitten by a dog, he thought at the worst, it might require a few stitches.
On the way to the friend’s house, he received a call that the family decided she probably needed to go to a hospital. He rushed to the hospital and found his daughter holding a pack of ice in a green towel. When he saw her face, it took his breath away.
He called his wife, Noel, and warned her to brace herself.
“It looked like hamburger meat,” he said. “I realized it was bad.”
A lower lip was nearly severed. Part of her upper lip was gone. She had defensive wounds on her hands and a right shoulder. In the end, she would need multiple surgeries. One doctor said he stopped counting sutures after reaching 100.
For her part, Jamison doesn’t remember much about the attack. “He bit me, I remember that,” she said. For a few weeks, she had to eat using a syringe, cocktail forks or Popsicle sticks.
The hole in her lip was so big that she could blow water out of it as a party trick.
“She said if you don’t laugh about it, you’re going to cry,” her father said.
Once they realized she would be OK, they also thought about Cooper.
“Our first reaction was that we’re going to have to get rid of the dog,” Scott Clark said, “but she wouldn’t hear of it.”
“I never want this to happen to someone else’s child,” said her mother, Noel. “It was probably the hardest six months we’ve ever had.”
Today, Jamison said she is more careful around dogs. She tries to read their body language.
“If they look scared, I leave them alone,” she said. “If I hear them barking, it worries me a little bit.”
Hirsch didn’t know about Jamison’s experience with the friend’s dog.
“What a brave little girl,” she said.
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