Alabama’s youngest county commissioner attacked by family dog

Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 at 5:59 PM CDT
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GENEVA COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - The youngest known county commissioner in Alabama is making news again, this time for a painful reason.

Geneva County Commissioner Weston Spivey, 19, says he was attacked by the family pet Sunday, a full grown German Shepherd named Polar Bear.

The commissioner posted several photos to social media showing himself in a hospital. Though smiling and giving a thumbs up, you could still see dried blood on his hands and legs.

Geneva County Commissioner Weston Spivey gives a 'thumbs up' from his hospital bed after being...
Geneva County Commissioner Weston Spivey gives a 'thumbs up' from his hospital bed after being attacked by the family dog Monday.(Source: Weston Spivey)

“I thought I was in for the fight of my life because I didn’t realize the power that dog had," Spivey said. "I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for the dog, still I took for granted the capabilities he had.”

Spivey said he was bitten several times in the arm and leg and that it took three people to get the dog off of him. He had to have stitches, as a result.

"As soon as I walked up on the porch and he saw me, he snapped up and aggressively ran towards me," said Spivey, "I lost a good amount of blood. My girlfriend is in nursing school and she helped stabilize the blood and get the blood to stop and wrap me up while first responders came from Slocomb."

Spivey says he’s not sure why the dog attacked him. He said he’s had it for several years and hadn’t seen those signs before, but it does make him think.

Spivey says the dog, Polar Bear, was a rescue. It took three people to pull the dog off of him....
Spivey says the dog, Polar Bear, was a rescue. It took three people to pull the dog off of him. It had never shown signs of aggression before.(Source: Weston Spivey)

“Taking in a new dog, maybe there should have been things we checked on. Maybe there should have been more things we’re aware of,” said Spivey.

Dr. Brad Harris, veterinarian at Dothan Animal Hospital, says adopting or rescuing animals can be a rewarding, but also comes with uncertainty.

"When you adopt in a rescue situation, you don't know what you're inheriting and you have to explore some of that," said Harris.

Harris says adopters need to look for the obvious signs from a dog. “Stands at the back of the kennel and barks at the back of the kennel,” said Harris. “If the dog’s hair stands on their back. Pay a little more attention.”

But he also says monitor how your dog interacts with other people, other dogs, and around food. Those are sometimes key triggers for animals.

Harris says just because a dog may show aggression doesn't mean the behavior can't be modified through socialization or training. He also says for pet owners to not get discouraged in adopting if the first dog doesn't work out for the family.

"It may not work. It doesn't mean that dog wouldn't work in another home and it doesn't mean a failure on anybody's part with that pet. You have to find what fits in each situation," said Harris.

Spivey said he no longer has the dog, but plans to continue rescuing animals because it’s something he is passionate about. He hopes to get back to work within the next few days, but his recovery will continue for weeks as the wounds heal and he gets treatment to ensure he doesn’t get any infections.

Spivey was elected to public office in Geneva County at the age of 18 after beating Republican incumbent Bryan Hatton by a slim margin in the primaries. He faced no Democratic opposition in the general election and, in winning, became the state’s youngest county commissioner.

Spivey’s spent years working with his family’s bison business, getting experience he said would translate into serving the county as commissioner.

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