Animal control removes dog after child attacked

Owner says dog previously attacked him, offers apology to boy's family

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Animal control removed a dog from the owner's Northwest Jacksonville home Thursday, two days after an 11-year-old boy was attacked. 

The boy's family told News4Jax that the child was mauled by the dog Tuesday night on Allandale Circle.

About 11 a.m. Thursday, animal control removed the dog from the owner's home on nearby Prospect Street.

An hour later, News4Jax spoke to the dog's owner, Jermain Davis, who said the same dog turned on him two weeks ago, and the attack sent him to the hospital. 

According to police, the dog jumped its backyard fence and attacked the 11-year-old, who was playing on a trampoline in his backyard. The boy, who News4Jax has chosen not to identify, suffered multiple bite wounds on his leg, and his right thumb had to be reattached by doctors.

“I just want to give my condolences out to the family, to let them know I’m sorry about everything that happened," Davis said.

Davis said he was walking his other dog several weeks ago when a man approached him and asked whether he wanted a dog. Davis said he accepted the offer and named the dog "Ace." 

He said Ace did not show any signs of aggression at first.

"Not when I first got him, but two weeks after I got it, he bit me when I was walking my other dog," Davis said.

He said Ace bit both his hands and also bit his upper lip. Davis said he and his mother called animal control to have the dog removed.

"They said it would be $93 to come get the dog. At the time, I didn't have the $93," Davis said.

Jermain Davis’ mother, Angela Jackson, vouched for her son’s attempt to have animal control take the dog. 

“We filed a police report. We called the dog pound and they wouldn't help," Jackson said. "It’s sad that it took this to happen to get the word out about the dog when they wouldn't help.”

The boy's mother, Ervina Hare, questioned why the animal was not taken away the same night her son was attacked. 

"They came to me this morning and they told me they didn't have enough information when the call was initially made, but I'm confused as to what information they needed," Hare told News4Jax Thursday night. "He jumped the gate. He jumped on my trampoline and my son is in surgery. What else do you need me to tell you?"

That's what News4Jax asked the city's public information officer. The response was an email, saying Animal Care and Protection Services advised that because this is still an active investigation, details are not available.

According to the boy's mother, when animal control officers removed the dog, they assured her Ace would be put down.

Attack raises legal questions

The dog's owner said he's devastated by what happened, and sends his condolences to the boy's family, but an apology in cases like this one might not be enough to prevent a lawsuit.

The boy's mother said medical bills are mounting.

“Right now, I have Medicaid and they’re taking care of everything. But they’re going after the dog owner or the homeowner to get their money back because they only pay for certain things," Hare said. "This is not a liability on them.”

Personal injury attorney Chuck Farah doesn't represent the boy’s family, but he has litigated similar cases.

“Well in this situation, it would be the dog owner who is strictly liable for all the damages," Farah said Thursday,

Damages can include medical bills and even loss of enjoyment for life.

And right now, Hare said there is no enjoyment in her child’s life. 

“No sleep. He needs help going to the bathroom. We have to feed him," she said. "It’s horrible. It’s like he’s a newborn baby.”

There was a time when a dog would immediately be put down by animal control after it attacked and bit someone. 

“But now, the new law states there has to be a hearing given to the dog owner before that can happen," Farah said.

In this case, there won’t be a hearing because the dog's owner said he no longer wants the animal

There are some legal loopholes that prevent owners from being sued. 

“If there was some sort of aggravation there and the dog (was) agitated some way by the person who was injured, then that is a defense the owner of the dog could bring up," Farah said.

But that defense likely wouldn't hold up in this case because the child was playing on his trampoline in his own fenced-in backyard when he was attacked. 

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