Steiner 5-year-old healing after being attacked by large dog

Emma Horak, 5, has had two surgeries on her face after being bitten by a large dog while on a playdate in Steiner Ranch on January 28. Her mom Alyson says it has been a traumatizing experience for their family.

By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News

Brandon and Alyson Horak of Steiner Ranch are still reeling after their daughter, Emma, was bitten on the face, hand and bottom by a large dog while on a playdate on January 28. Emma has already undergone two surgeries to repair the damage and a friend of the family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with mounting medical bills.

Emma’s first surgery happened at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas the same night as the playdate — plastic surgery to repair the damage to her face. The wounds on her hand and bottom were punctures.

Within a day, though, the lacerations on her face had become infected and Emma had to have a second emergency surgery. Alyson explained that bacteria in dog’s mouths make infections from dog bites common. 

“It was nothing we did or she did. It just happens… They had to reopen the wound and reflush it and resuture and put a new drain in,” she said. “That had her back in Dell Children’s for an additional three or four days.”

The dog that bit Emma did not belong to the family hosting her but to a neighbor, who accidentally let the dog out. After the attack, the dog was quarantined by Travis County. The dog’s owners had hoped their dog would be allowed to return to Steiner, but a few weeks ago a judge subsequently ordered that the dog be put down in the wake of the attack. The dog was to be kept in animal control until that time.

The Horaks are well-known dog lovers in the Steiner community and frequently foster rescue dogs. Alyson’s social media pages are filled with pictures of pups that need to be rescued and encouraging the fostering of dogs. 

On the family’s GoFundMe campaign page which was set up by friends, Alyson is described as, “one of the community’s most loved dog rescuers and advocates. She works tirelessly to rescue dogs from kill shelters across the state and does this as fully volunteer work.”

Alyson does not relish the thought of a dog being put down, but her greater concern is for the safety of her community. 

“I definitely didn’t want a vicious dog out in Steiner at all. And I definitely didn’t want this to happen to another child,” she said.

After Emma’s two surgeries, the family, including Emma’s younger brother Bryson, is still coping with the effects of the trauma. They’ve had to temporarily move their own dog in with another family. 

“Physically (Emma’s) healing well. Mentally she’s very traumatized. We actually don’t even have our dog in the house right now. She’s staying with a friend of ours… (Emma is now) terrified of big dogs,” Alyson said.

 Alyson and Brandon are in the process of identifying what they can do to help their daughter to recover emotionally. 

“I spoke with her doctor today and she recommended counseling, so we’re starting that on Monday,” she said.

The family’s GoFundMe campaign can be found by searching “Horak Family”. Nearly $6,200 has been raised so far of the family’s $10,000 goal, for which the Horak’s are deeply grateful. 

“Our medical bills are piling up,” said Alyson. “We just appreciate everything. The community has been amazing.”

Update this week since the story was published in print on Feb 16, 2020:

“She is healing well, and she started counseling. She is taking to counseling well and I think that’s really going to help her healing process,” said Alyson. 

Emma has started the process for scar therapy, trying to reduce the scar tissue build up. The Horaks are hoping to reduce the scarring.

“We don’t know quite yet if she needs additional surgeries till we can see how the body responds to the scar therapy,” she said. “One step at a time. But she Is brave and strong. And continues to amaze me.”  

Brandon, Alyson, Emma and Bryson Horak of Steiner Ranch
Emma Horak, 5, was bitten on the face, hand and bottom by a large dog while on a playdate in Steiner Ranch on January 28.