Boy recovering after dog mauling: 'I still think about what happened'

Jamel Smith, 11, suffered deep bite wounds to leg, had his thumb nearly torn off

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An 11-year-old boy badly mauled by his neighbor's dog has recovered well enough to return to school on Tuesday.

Jamel Smith was strong enough to speak with News4Jax on Monday about the attack that left him seriously injured. 

"Now, I feel a little bit better," Jamel said.

On Dec. 26, Jamel was in his own backyard in Northwest Jacksonville when a neighbor's dog jumped the fenced and mauled him.

Nearly two weeks after, Jamel was able to talk about what happened the night he was attacked because he was no longer in the physical pain he initially suffered when his thumb was nearly torn off and his leg was bitten multiple times. 

"He finally jumped the fence and ran around the trampoline, put his head under it," Jamel said. "He kept beating his head then he jumped on top and started attacking me."

Jamel suffered deep bite wounds to his leg, which are extending his recovery process, and the boy's thumb had to be surgically reattached. 

His mother said that her son's leg is not healing properly, and there's a good chance he will have to undergo skin grafts. 

The dog has since been removed from the neighbor's property, however, Jamel and his family don't dare to go out to their backyard. They said the attack is still vivid in their minds, even though the dog was put down by animal control.

"I feel he won't danger anyone else like he did my brother," said Jeremiah Smith, Jamel's brother.

Jamel said that he feels "a little good" knowing that the dog is no longer there.

"I still think about what happened," he said.

To deal with those memories, Jamel said, "I think about things I like doing the best," which include playing football and playing Xbox with his brother.

Though hospital bills are adding up, Jamel's mother said, Medicaid is paying for her son's medical expenses, and Medicaid will go after the dog's owner for reimbursement. 

Since the attack, the dog's owner has formally apologized to the family. 

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