Mesa neighbors rally to help 5-year-old bitten by dog

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- A group of neighbors in east Mesa are working together to help a young family. The Smiths were out on their block celebrating on New Year's Eve when they say a neighbor's dog, likely scared by fireworks, jumped the fence and attacked their 5-year-old daughter, Shiley.

In a horrible case of bad timing, her father started a new job in just the last few months. His insurance was set to kick in at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, 2012. Shiley was injured about five hours before that.

Shiley's recovery has been steady. She has stitches in her mouth and an open wound where the dog's teeth nearly caught her eye, but her sight and her spirit remain in tact.

Neighbors are helping with two fundraisers to help pay for the expenses not covered by insurance, like Shiley's ambulance ride, time in the emergency room and early CAT scans.

On Saturday, Jan, 14 and Sunday, Jan, 15, the block is hosting a community yard sale near Ellsworth and Brown roads in Mesa.

On Monday, Jan. 16, Rochester's Family Dining and Sports Bar in Mesa will be giving a portion of the proceeds from every meal to the Smith family.

"I never knew people could feel such emotion for people they don't know," said Cherish Smith, Shiley's mother.

Under Arizona state law addressing liability for dog bites (ARS 11-1025), the owner of the dog is responsible for any injuries the dog inflicts. It's not clear if the Smiths have had that conversation.