Family members said they had just recently adopted the dog from the humane society in Catawba County.
Justina Turner, the child's mother, said she and her daughter were in the living room of her home south of Lenoir when the 3-year-old 60-pound dog suddenly attacked the child, biting her face. She said the dog bit down so hard on her daughter that she wasn't sure at first how she was going to get the animal off her.
Turner said the dog nearly ripped her daughter's right eye out, and the girl had to get several stitches around her eye.
"I was in such shock,” Turner said. “I didn't know what was going on. Once I got the dog away from my daughter and saw the blood, it was the most terrifying thing I've ever seen in my life."
The dog is in quarantine for 10 days to be checked for rabies at the Caldwell County Animal Shelter.
Turner said she didn’t know the dog posed a threat because it seemed friendly when she adopted it.
"They really didn't tell us much about the dog,” Turner said. “They just told us to pick out a dog and to take it to the play yard to play with it. The dog seemed kid-friendly."
The humane society handles all adoptions in Catawba County from the intake to temperament screening prior to adoption.
"They're around these animals every day,” said Paris Wright, a visitor at the Catawba County Humane Society. “They see their temperament. They see how they carry themselves. So, I figured that's what they would be able to give me insight and they did."
Humane society officials said an adopted dog can act differently once it's in a home and around children.
Turner said people need to be careful adopting older dogs.
"I just want him out of the house,” she said.
The Catawba County Humane Society adopts more than 1,000 dogs each year and has not had an issue like this.
The dog had been in the human society for more than two months prior to being adopted.
The dog has been quarantined for 10 days, Jenna Mullinax, Caldwell County animal control director, told the newspaper. The dog will then be evaluated, but, given its history, will likely be euthanized, she said.