"I just got in there," the pretty eighth-grader said afterwards. "I couldn't let my sister get hurt."
Diana, 14, was waiting for the school bus with her brothers and sisters, along with several other children from her Bladenboro neighborhood, when a large black chow "went after" her sister, Julie.
The attack occurred at a bus stop on N.C. 410 near the family's home on Frederick Britt Road.
Ted Carter of Bladen County Animal Control said the attack "was very vicious." Because of the nature of the attack, and a previous incident with the same dog, the chow will be destroyed after a rabies observation period.
Animal Control officers would not release the name of the dog's owners, and refused further comment without consultation with the county attorney.
Residents of the neighborhood said the dog's owner is Leigh Griffin.
"Scared to death"
Seven-year-old Julie said she was "scared to death."
"He's a big dog," she said.
Diana said the dog was tall enough to reach Julie's face and neck without reaching.
"It came up to here on me," Diana said, holding her hand above waist level.
Diana distracted the dog, and pushed Julie and the other children onto the waiting bus.
"I wanted to make sure they were okay," she said.
The dog then turned on Diana, throwing her on the ground and repeatedly biting her on the legs, side and back.
She finally managed to get away from the chow and jumped into Patricia Cooper's car.
Cooper then took Diana home, where her father, Scott Barnett, called 911.
She was transported to Bladen County Hospital by ambulance, and released later in the day. Diana said she hopes to return to classes at Bladenboro Middle School today, after a doctor's appointment Thursday.
Scott Barnett said Diana refused to run from the dog to Cooper's car because she was afraid the dog would turn on someone else.
"She told me, 'Daddy, who would he have gone after if I wasn't there?' " Banrett said.
Bites extend from above Diana's knee, over her thigh and hips, and onto her side.
"It hurt pretty bad," she said, "but I didn't care at the time-I was worried about my sister and the other kids."
The chow's owner usually keeps the dog penned or chained, Diana said, and the dog was recently returned to its owners after another biting incident.
"Like watching a movie"
"If Miss Cooper hadn't jumped out to help my daughter," Barnett said, "I don't know what would have happened to Diana."
"The children were all just out there waiting for the bus, like good kids," Cooper said. "They didn't do anything."
The bus stop Diana and her siblings use is located near Hester Tire on N.C. 410, at the Bladenboro town limits.
Patricia Cooper was in the second car behind the bus when the attack occurred.
Her five-year-old daughter had just gotten onto another bus when Cooper saw the attack happen.
"It was like watching a movie or something," Cooper said. "I couldn't believe more people weren't getting out to help or something."
Cooper said she swung her car out of traffic onto Frederick Britt Road, and opened the driver's side door.
"I just started telling her to get in the car, to get away from the dog," she said.
Cooper said she tried to get the dog off Diana, who was on the ground.
"He was just biting her and tearing into her," Cooper said. "I didn't care if I got bit at that point."
She finally dragged Diana into the car and started down Fredrick Britt Road, away from the dog.
Cooper said several adults were standing in the yard where the chow lives, and she saw a young boy chasing the dog around the house, trying to catch him.
"He just bored right in on that poor little girl," Cooper said.
Julie had several bites, and another of the Barnett children, April, was bruised and scratched when Diana shoved the children out of the way.
Diana said she told the other children to get on the bus and "get out of the way."
"I just knew he could kill a little kid," she said.
"He had hold of Diana just chewing on her," Cooper said.
"All I wanted to do was get Diana out of there," she said. Cooper has a 3 1/2 year old son and a five-year-old daughter. "If someone was hurting my child, I hope someone would help out the way Diana did."
Cooper said she drove Diana to the Barnett home, a few hundred feet from the bus stop.
When Cooper pulled onto Fredrick Britt Road, she said, the chow briefly ran away, but chased the car to the Barnett home, then began running around the neighborhood, acting aggressively.
"It was like he was following
us, wanting to get her some more," Cooper said.
Cooper said the dog stayed nearby while Diana's father checked her wounds.
"I knew she was hurt," Cooper said, "I just didn't know how bad."
When the ambulance arrived, Cooper said, the chow chased the vehicle to the Barnett home, and "wouldn't let them (the EMTs) out of the ambulance."
"That dog put them back in the ambulance," Scott Barnett said.
Barnett said he grabbed a pipe to defend Diana and Cooper from the dog, and stayed between the dog and his daughter while they went out to the ambulance.
"He recognized the threat of someone holding a pipe," Barnett said.
Cooper and Barnett carried Diana to the ambulance, yelling at the dog to stay away.
Cooper said she saw no reason why the dog would have attacked the children.
Barnett and his daughters said many of the residents of the tiny neighborhood have dogs. The Barnetts themselves have two mixed-breed dogs, both of whom are named Sabrina.
Children regularly play with other dogs in the neighborhood. Barnett said the children know which dogs are friendly and which are not.
Cooper and Barnett said they had noticed the chow before, but usually he was chained up.
Cooper said Diana is a hero.
"When she was in the car with me," Cooper said, "I told her she should be proud, the way she got that dog off that baby. That takes some courage, to go after a big dog like that."
Barnett said he was proud of his daughter, and grateful Cooper stopped to help.
"I wish I could thank Miss Cooper enough," he said. "I don't know if Diana could have gotten away if she hadn't stopped. A lot of people just watch when someone's in trouble, and don't do anything. Diana did what she could. Miss Cooper did, too."
Barnett said he and his wife Phyllis have five children still living at home.
"All my kids have been taught to look after the younger ones," he said. "I tell each one, your job is to protect that baby. Diana did that, and then some."