- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - The grandfather of a 6-year-old girl mauled by two pit bulls says he wants her story to be one of hope.

Leslie McElrath Jr. says he is praying for her recovery and hopes the community sees this as an opportunity to come together. He tells The Cincinnati Enquirer (https://cin.ci/1q0jssG ) in a story published Sunday that the city can show how much people care as they rally behind a little girl’s healing effort.

Zainabou Drame is hospitalized in a medically induced coma at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the aftermath of the June 4 attack. Doctors have begun what family members have been told could be a years-long series of reconstructive surgeries.

Police shot and killed the two dogs, whose owner was arrested on drug-related charges.

“What happened to Zaina is not about dividing people, attacking someone, putting someone in jail, banning pit bulls or killing dogs,” said McElrath, 65. “This is an opportunity to come together; to show the city how much people care, to help heal a little girl.”

The girl he calls Happy kept a smile on her face and a song on her lips, he said. He is hopeful that modern medicine will have the answers to her badly wounded face and mouth, so that someday she will be able to smile and sing again.

Their daughter’s child had been playing tag with other neighborhood children. Now the concrete they ran on is stained by blood.

McElrath is thankful for all the efforts on her behalf, including to a police officer, Josh Bricker, whose quick aid he credits with saving her life.

“I’m a Christian,” he said. “I believe in my heart things will be better. That’s why she is still alive and why she is going to make it.”

He said he has already forgiven the dogs’ owner.

“I am a man of scriptures,” McElrath said. “The angry man does not receive the righteousness of God.”

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