Following pit bull bite, deputy’s quick decision-making helps save 2-month-old infant

Published 3:56 pm Monday, February 7, 2022

LAPLACE — Deputy Anaya Teekell’s professional response and quick decision-making the night of January 5, 2022 was instrumental in saving the life of a 2-month-old infant.

Baby Gianna Foret was limp and appeared to be fading away after she was bitten in the face by a pit bull. With absolutely no time to lose, Teekell decided to transport the baby and her mother to the hospital in her police unit rather than waiting on EMS.

Gianna’s grandmother, Lillian Matt, believes her granddaughter is alive and well today as a direct result of Teekell’s actions.

“If we would have waited, it could’ve been a different outcome. I would be going to the graveyard instead of going home to see my granddaughter,” Matt said. “It was literally a matter of life or death. She chose life, and I’m proud to say my granddaughter is here because of Anaya.”

Matt’s pit bull was known as a very friendly dog and seemed to be scared of his own shadow. That changed in an instant around 11:30 p.m. the night of January 5.

Matt’s daughter, Margarita Vazquez, was feeding her newborn daughter on the bed when the dog suddenly bit down on her arm and refused to let go.

Matt heard her daughter cry out for help and rushed to the bedroom, where she had to pry the dog off of her arm. During the struggle, the dog bit Baby Gianna and ripped off the right side of her nose and mouth.

The family called 911, stating the baby had been bitten and was possibly choking on her blood.

Deputy Teekell was the first officer to respond on scene. Upon arrival, she saw Vazquez was frantic and hysterical as she held her infant daughter. The baby appeared limp in her arms, and it was clear she wouldn’t survive without immediate medical intervention.

“The baby’s breathing was getting very shallow,” Matt said. “She had stopped crying, and she was losing a lot of blood. At this point, I don’t know what is going on. I’m in shock.”

Acadian Ambulance was still en route, but in a situation so critical, there wasn’t a second to spare. Teekell looked at the other responding deputies and announced, “We have no time to waste. I’m taking them in my unit.”

Baby Gianna, Vazquez and Matt were loaded into Teekell’s unit and quickly transported from Kathy Drive to the Ochsner River Parishes emergency room.

“If we didn’t make it from my house to the hospital in two minutes, we didn’t make it at all,” Matt said.

Matt commended responding officers Cpl. Travis Klibert, Deputy Ben Teekell, Deputy Nathaniel Cooper, Deputy Henry Crouch and Deputy Genevieve Waguespack for blocking off traffic to ensure they reached the hospital quickly and safely.

Deputy Teekell accompanied Vasquez and her baby inside the hospital. Medical care was administered immediately to stabilize Gianna. Before long, she was breathing and able to cry. Hours later, she was transported to Ochsner – Jefferson Highway for emergency plastic surgery.

The first step was to put Gianna’s lip back in place and put in a stint to keep the right side of her nose from collapsing in. A g-tube was put in place on January 6.

At the time, it was unclear if Gianna would be able to suck out of a bottle or breathe through both of her nostrils. Under the care of Dr. Friel, Gianna has exceeded expectations in her recovery in a matter of weeks.

Within a month of her accident, Gianna began breathing through both nostrils and had her nose stint removed. Her soft tissue is still healing, and she will return to the hospital in April to begin skin grafting to reconstruct her nose and lip.

Matt and Vazquez met up with Teekell last week to give her a token of appreciation.

Teekell was also commended by Sheriff Mike Tregre and Lt. Greg Baker, who stated, “Deputy Teekell displayed professionalism, good decision making and bravery that an officer should present on any and all calls for service.”

Teekell has been with the St. John Sheriff’s Office since November 2020. She was born and raised into this career, following in the footsteps of her mother and father.

When she saw baby Gianna’s condition the night of January 5, Teekell asked herself: “If it were my child on the other end, what would I want them to do?”

“I honestly just did what anybody else in that situation would’ve done,” Teekell said. “I’m just glad it turned out the way it did.”