Family Says Disneyland Dog Mauled Toddler

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The family of a small girl is suing Disneyland, claiming she was mauled by a dog at the park's petting zoo in 2006 when she was 2 years old.

The suit filed Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court says the dog, a German shepherd-Labrador retriever mix, attacked 2-year-old Lena Dickerson on Oct. 3, 2006, biting her several times on the face and leaving her permanently scarred.

A Disneyland employee adopted the 6-year-old dog named Hemmingway from the Orange County Animal Shelter and brought it to the theme park two weeks before the attack. The dog was placed on a box in the Big Thunder petting zoo while a park employee held its leash and invited children to pet it, the suit says.

Lena had been petting the dog with her two siblings for several minutes and was saying goodbye when it lunged at her, the suit says.

The shelter had called the dog "not very social" and said it had a history of aggression, the lawsuit claims.

"It is atrocious what Disney did, and the public needed to be warned," said Michael Bishay, an attorney representing the family. "You don't invite kids to pet stray dogs."

The Dickerson family lived in Valencia at the time, but has since moved to Illinois.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and reimbursement for the family's medical costs and the trauma it suffered.

Disney officials declined comment Wednesday when reached by the Los Angeles Daily News, saying they do not comment on pending litigation.