East Tennessee mom warns families to watch their dogs

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) – A Karns family of four loves dogs.

In fact, they had a pair of Rottweilers for more than four years, until one day last spring, when they turned against the family’s youngest son.

"They were good family dogs, they would come in every now and again to protect us," said Kathryn Slay, mother of attack victim Cortez Slay. “They were real gentle animals before this."

May 22, 2007 started out like any other day, but turned into a mother's worst nightmare.

"They were playing outside and Miles came running in," recalled Kathryn.

"I ran as fast as I could to Mommy and I told her that Cortez was getting attacked by our dogs," said Miles Slay, Cortez’s brother.

When Kathryn ran to the back yard, she couldn't believe her eyes.

"They were dragging him,” she said. “I couldn't really see him too well, but they had dragged him behind a bush, so I ran out there. I had to fight the dogs, kick them and punch them to get them off of him."

Kathryn scooped up five-year old Cortez in her arms and noticed he was covered in blood.

"It was very gory,” she said. “He had lost muscle tissue and a whole lot of skin. They had nicked his carotid arteries.”

The four year olds Rottweilers, named Fearless and Big Boy, were put down that day.

Cortez spent more than a month in the hospital and he still has scars covering his body.

“I didn't know what to do,” said Cortez Slay. "The other one bit me and They were fighting over me." They started to drag me and kept dragging me till my mom got there."

Why the two Rottweilers attacked Cortez is still a mystery to Kathryn, but they bought a very small Chihuahua recently, just to play it safe.

"I think it's important for people who are owners of large breed dogs to realize that even though your dog is your family pet, they still can be dangerous,” said Kathryn.

Cortez is still undergoing therapy and painful treatments for his injuries.

Kathryn said she wants everyone to keep an extra close eye on their dogs if they have children, because anything can happen.


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  • by Kathrynm Slay Location: Knoxville on Jan 30, 2008 at 10:38 PM
    The truth is this: the boys had snuck out of the house. The screen door is usually locked. The dogs were not locked up. They were inside an electric fence with about 1 acre of land for them to run and play. We are not bad parents. Before someone casts blame, perhaps they should look at their situation. Accidents happen. Did you read the part about the dogs coming in the house? Don't assume things. DCS was never involved in the situation. Our dogs were spayed and had undergone trainig with a licensed trainer. We took all precautions. We focued more on the dogs getting out than our children getting in. Obviously, this was the last thing that we thought would happen. Other than this instance, our children were always supervised whenever they were outside. The message was obviously missed by many people who would rather cast negative comments about. The message is that large breed dogs can be dangerous. This isn't a story about bad parenting. Let's focus on the issue, agreed?
  • by kirby Location: kingtson on Jan 29, 2008 at 04:18 AM
    may be all you people who want to own these big, potentially violent animals will learn something from this family's experience...but, i rather doubt it. many of the people who own these animals have less intellect than the dogs do. i'm glad this family in karns learned the lessen with no one getting killed.
  • by jon Location: knox on Jan 28, 2008 at 10:37 PM
    it is good that the dog situation is finally hitting home,if the pleople next door need to tell other to watch that dog or this dog i need to move to that area,its what i call getting the comunity involed
  • by Nicole Location: Knoxille on Jan 28, 2008 at 08:37 PM
    Rotties, like Pits and Am Staffs, can be beautiful, loyal, and loving animals if raised properly. But yes, they are large and power breeds that can play rough. I am so sorry that little Cortez was caught in the middle. However, I would trust my American Staffordshire Terrier's temperament over a Chihuahua's anyday. I would advice potential dog owners to research breeds that best suit their needs, circumstances, and abilities before making that important decision.
  • by Crystal Location: Maryville on Jan 27, 2008 at 01:24 PM
    I agree. "Watch your children!" How sad. He was five years old! The dogs undoubtedly were bigger than him. He was like an over-sized toy. If they were playing (and as an owner of a big dog, they do play rough), and he got in the middle, got knocked down, then they had something to play tug of war with. As a five year old he had no way to defend himself against a full grown rottie, let alone two. Shame on parents who don't have common sense. If there had been an adult there this situation would not have happened. How weird to willingly go on the news and showcase bad parenting skills. Oh, well. The warning is clear even if the words are wrong..."Keep an extra close on your (children) if you have (large dogs), because anything can happen." Sad for the boy, sad for the dogs.
  • by HL Location: Sevierville on Jan 27, 2008 at 08:44 AM
    I think the better advice would be "Watch your children". Let's face it, children are always doing something they shouldn't be and I'd be willing to bet, the child did something to one of the dogs and it bit him. Who's to say that when they were fighting, that one dog wasn't trying to protect him from the other. And why was a 5 year old child left unsupervised with them anyway? Parents fault, pure and simple. Now a scarred child and 2 dead dogs.
  • by Steve Location: Tri Cities on Jan 27, 2008 at 06:40 AM
    What, these dogs were outside dogs? chained up outside? No dog should be chained up outside..all bets are off if you do that to your dog. and why were these children playing outside with these dogs and no adult was there???
  • by Tina Location: Knoxville on Jan 25, 2008 at 08:48 PM
    Every story like this, the dog owner always says They were so gentle until this happened? I am glad that Cortez is alive but you have to wonder where his parents head was to have this breed of dog with young children. And the names they gave those dogs, almost like asking for trouble? I would guess if the whole story was told, neither dog had been spayed or neutered and this was what led up to this incident.Cortez said "The other one bit me and They were fighting over me." Sounds like there may have been another dog there too.

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