Boy recovers from mauling

MANASSAS — Lubna Qureshi, 34, hopes her son will soon be able to walk to school without fear of what may be around the corner.

Farhan Qureshi, 8, was walking home from George C. Round Elementary School on Dec. 13 with his friend Hassam Alsawalhi, also 8, when two Rottweiler dogs chased Farhan, knocked him to the ground, shook him and bite the child’s head several times.

Friday morning the two dogs, owned by Tammy L. Blush, 23, and Gerardo Montes-Barragan, 21, of 10214 Battlefield Drive, were destroyed by order of the court.

Animal Control contacted the Qureshi family shortly after with the news.

“I told [Farhan] the news and asked him what he thought of it,” Lubna Qureshi said. “I think he feels safer now that the dogs are gone, but he asked what would happen if they [the dog owners] got another dog. I think he is still afraid in that aspect.”

Joan Strawderman, director of animal control for the city of Manassas, confirmed that the two dogs were put down, and despite a lack of current rabies vaccination for the female dog, both were healthy at the time.

“This kind of attack is rare, and only happens in Manassas about two or three times a year,” Strawderman said.

After trying to calmly walk by the dogs, in order not to provoke them, Farhan curled up in the fetal position when the dogs started to attack him, his mother said.

“One of the dogs was supposed to be a puppy, but that puppy weighed 70 pounds, and my son weighs 58 pounds,” she said.

The two dog owners were charged with five misdemeanors, each in relation to the attack.

Blush was found guilty Jan. 14 of owning a vicious dog and allowing a dog to run at large, court officials said. She was fined approximately $300 and was ordered to have the dog destroyed.

Montes-Barragan was also found guilty of owning a vicious dog, allowing a dog to run at large and owning an unlicensed dog. He was ordered to have the dog destroyed and paid approximately $300 in fines.

Neither Blush nor Montes-Barragan could be reached for comment Friday.

In the midst of this traumatic family event, members of the Manassas community came together to save Farhan, and have since been supportive of the family.

Her son may be in the process of healing from the six gashes and several stitches in his head as a result of the event, but he is alive, and his mother believes that is because of three people who put her son before their own safety.

Karen Corkran, Dennis Buchanan and 8-year-old Hassam Alsawalhi came to the aid of Farhan and helped pull the dogs off of him, even after receiving a few close calls. Alsawalhi was recently honored and recognized by the city of Manassas for his heroic acts.

“There are just no words to convey how grateful we are toward all of them,” Lubna Qureshi said. “For them to leave the safety of their homes and cars to come into that dangerous environment. Some were even bitten themselves.”

Over 120 people in the community signed a petition to ask that the dogs not be brought back into that neighborhood, Lubna said.

The two boys still walk home from school together, and their bond is even stronger now.

“They really are soul mates,” Farhan’s mother said of her son and his best friend.

“Hassam didn’t think of himself, he just wanted to help his friend,” she said. “When Farhan was in the hospital, he just wanted to know if the dogs got Hassam, too.”

The family considers themselves lucky.

Two dogs in California made national headlines last year after they mauled and killed a 33-year-old college lacrosse coach as she carried groceries to her apartment.

Jury selection began earlier this week for the trial of the San Francisco couple connected with the mauling death and, according to reports by the Associated Press, will focus on the relationship of people and their animals and whether a pet owner can be found guilty of murder when his or her dog kills.

Staff Writer Trina Goethals can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 121.

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