Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Florida: Babysitters' pit bull attacks and injures 5-year-old boy

By J.D. Gallop, Florida Today

Jahvon Harrington may never smile the same again after being attacked by a babysitter's pit bull.
Yet, the 5-year-old is comforting his mother and bravely preparing for the surgeries to repair his face after the Friday afternoon attack in Palm Bay.
"It's traumatic, but he's doing as good as can be expected," said his mother, Olivia Harrington. "I mean, he's telling me to sit down. I was running back and forth and pacing up and down at the hospital and he was like, 'Mama, its going to be OK.' "
"He's so amazing."
Harrington was headed to work and had dropped Jahvon off at the Seahorse Circle house of a longtime friend who has several dogs.
Moments later, the boy was outside playing and, according to Palm Bay police, either grabbed a pit bull named "Blue Sky" by the collar or attempted to ride the 85-pound canine like a horse.
The dog grabbed at the child's head with his jaws and shook him, crushing facial bones around one eye and ripping a portion of an ear, police said.
"The homeowner said she went to the restroom and then heard screams. She ran over and saw the child," said Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Palm Bay Police Department.
"He'll need reconstructive surgery, and they had a plastic surgeon come in to evaluate him. No criminal charges were filed against the dog's owner, but animals services did issue a citation to remove the dog," Martinez said.
Brevard County Animal Services could seek to declare the animal as a dangerous dog, a process that could end in it being euthanized.
"It was a pretty significant bite to the face of the child," said Capt. Bob Brown, a spokesman for Animal Services.
Animal Services removed Blue Sky from the home and placed the dog under rabies quarantine after discovering the animal had not been vaccinated.
Agents issued a citation to 36-year-old Semakee Cunningham for an attack causing a severe injury.
Cunningham could not be reached for comment.
"I feel it was a terrible accident, but it was a terrible accident. I trusted my friend," Harrington said.
"She has her kids around the dogs and babysat for me recently," Harrington said.
The child was taken to Palm Bay Community Hospital's emergency room, where he was treated for numerous facial injuries injuries, including a four-inch wound beneath one of his eyes, along with an ear that was ripped to the cartilage
The child's mother left the home about 10 minutes before she learned of the incident.
Jahvon, whose face has numerous stitches, was back at home Monday.
Harrington has taken off the week from work to be with him.
Doctors have told Harrington nerve damage may prevent the child from showing the facial emotion of surprise or allow him to close his eyes fully to blow out a birthday cake.
The Department of Children and Families is also investigating the incident.

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