Moms demand changes after kids attacked by dogs at Detroit's Bates Academy

'Our children weren’t protected.'
Posted at 5:15 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 18:18:22-04

DETROIT, Michigan (WXYZ) — One of the dogs that attacked children at Bates Academy in Detroit just over two weeks ago has been put down, but the moms of two students attacked say the real threat remains.

In an exclusive interview with 7 Action News, the moms say they want changes in policy to make sure this doesn’t happen again to your children.

Juanita Houston is the mom of a 12-year-old daughter in the sixth grade at Bates Academy. Yahasha Colbert is the mom of a 13-year-old girl in the seventh grade. When they sent their children to school on April 28th, they thought they were safe. Then they got calls.

“They said my daughter had been bitten by a dog at school and I needed to get there,” said Houston.

“She said, ‘I am sorry. I did everything I could do.’ I thought I lost my daughter,” said Colbert.

A classmate captured video so graphic, we decided not to show it. You can see Juanita Houston’s daughter on the ground as one of two stray dogs outside the school attacks. Her daughter told her that classmates, not adults, helped her.

“A boy said, while I am hitting the dog, he is going to let go and I want you to run. That happened,” said Houston.

“I got to the front door of the school and there was blood all over the front step, my daughter’s shoe covered in blood, my daughter’s eyeglasses, my daughter’s cell phone at the door,” described Colbert.

Colbert says the dog attacked her daughter as she tried to get in the school to safety.

“My daughter was banging on the front door. No one opened it. The door is very close to the office. There is usually a security guard at the door and monitors. No one was monitoring monitors and no one let my daughter in,” said Colbert.

She says a teacher eventually came to the door and started fighting the dog.

“The dog ended up coming into the school attached to my child. She ended up breaking a table while fighting the dog and then she went and got a fan. This went on for a long time,” said Colbert.

Detroit Animal Care and Control captured one dog shortly after it happened. The other dog was never found.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District said the day after the attack that the girls had been treated and released with minor injuries.

“And at that point my child was still in the hospital,” said Houston.

Their attorneys at the Law Office of Koussan Hamood showed WXYZ pictures of the deep flesh wounds. The girls are still not back at school, at home healing from deep bite wounds and infections. One was readmitted to the hospital for several days due to infection.

Attorney Ali Koussan says they are not suing at this point, but want change.

“We want to see some action by the school so this doesn’t happen to other children,” said Koussan.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District said it is planning to build a fence enclosure before the start of next school year to ensure safe access to recess. It released a statement saying, “In this case, during recess students were innocently playing with the dogs instead of the dogs initially attacking them. There were six adults outside with the children.”

Houston says the children perhaps should not have played with the dogs, but they are children. She wants to know, if there was adequate supervision, why wasn’t the playing prevented?

“Why are stray dogs allowed to walk up to children playing on the playground?” asked Houston.

“They need adequate supervision. They need access back into the building for when something like this could occur,” said Colbert.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District statement went on to say, “The principal went to the hospital with the girls and provided updates on their condition to the district. There were several updates provided, including that the students were stable and in good spirits. We will continue to work with animal control to ensure the sightings of stray dogs is reported. Since the incident, outside recess at Bates has been canceled, one of the dogs has not yet been captured.”

The City of Detroit says Animal Care and Control is still investigating, but the owners of the dogs have never been identified.

The school district statement continued, saying, “The school sits on a corner lot near an open field. The district does not have the resources to entirely fence in all school buildings. This is also not possible when large pieces of land, such as parks, are next to schools where students play, as is the case at Bates. That land is owned by the city and is accessible to the public.”

“Our children weren’t protected,” said Houston.