JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – What began as a routine walk turned into an attack that sent a dog and its owner to the emergency room.
The incident happened on Lancia Street on Jacksonville’s Westside on March 4, but News4JAX just learned about it after the woman who was attacked ended up back in the hospital.
Ashley Parnell spoke to News4JAX from her hospital bed while she was undergoing a series of intravenous treatments to overcome infection in her leg from a dog bite. Parnell said she was bitten during an attack by four dogs that belonged to her neighbor across the street. She said it happened right after she brought her Jack Russell terrier out the front door to take it on a walk.
“The neighbor’s four pit bulls came across the street and they attacked us. I tried to get my dog and myself back in the house but wasn’t able to,” Parnell said.
Parnell said that she was bitten a couple of times on the legs by one of the dogs. She also said the other dogs mauled her dog. Her mother, Kathy Parnell, was home when it happened and heard the chaos. She said she had just stepped out of the shower and could hear her daughter screaming.
“When she got to the front door, she was screaming and screaming and screaming. She had (dragged) our dog in because he had passed out from the injuries,” Kathy Parnell said.
Paramedics took Ashley Parnell to the emergency room to be treated for the dog bites to her leg. The following week, she said, she ended up back in the emergency room and then was admitted into the hospital because her dog bite injures had caused a bacterial infection to her leg that was spreading. Oral antibiotics were not working, so she had to be admitted into the hospital to undergo a series of antibiotic treatments that had to be intravenously injected.
The Parnells said their dog suffered far greater injures.
“He’s got stitches all down his legs and he’s got to wear a cone collar for 14 more days,” said Kathy Parnell, who also owns the injured animal.
News4JAX spoke with the owner of the dogs. The man, who declined to give us his name, said his dogs, which he confirmed are pit bulls, were in his backyard but found a way out by digging under the fence and going into a next-door neighbor’s yard that has an open gate facing Lancia Street. The man also said that after the incident, he placed wooden boards along the fence to prevent the dogs from escaping and then allowed News4JAX to come onto his property to see the boards in place and to get a look at his dogs. All four animals had considerable size and appeared to want attention but never showed aggression toward us. The man told News4JAX that all four of his dogs are vaccinated, but according to animal control, the dog believed to have bitten Ashley Parnell was not current with its vaccinations.
Ashley Parnell said the attack is a teaching moment for all dog owners.
“If people are going to have dogs like that, they must have a secure back yard. There can’t be a possibility that a dog like that can just get out. What if it had been a child? This would have been their face and not their legs. What if this had been an elderly person? They could have knocked over? This was bad but could have been a lot worse,” Ashley Parnell said.
Her mother echoed the same message but said the owner of the four dogs should be required to do more to secure his animals.
“When they have dogs like that, they should have an 8-foot privacy fence all the way around. They should be secured and they should be muzzled,” Kathy Parnell said.
Kathy Parnell also told News4JAX that the vet bills and her daughter’s hospital bills are racking up so much that she and her daughter may file a lawsuit against their neighbor.
Jacksonville police were the first to investigate the attack but News4JAX has learned that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has handed the investigation over to animal control.