Woman, 7-year-old son recovering from dog attack at animal shelter

Reports from city: Dog grabbed boy's shirt, mom intervened, both bitten

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A woman and her son are recovering from a dog attack that shattered their dream of having a pet dog.

Celeste McMullen told News4Jax on Monday that it could take months before her 7-year-old son, Terrence, recovers from his injuries and that they are both living with mental and physical scars. 

Terrence has a broken finger with a pin in it and multiple stitches on the inside of his muscles. She said her son is also getting mental therapy for the nightmares he has every night. McMullen has two fractured ribs. They will both have to get rabies shots. 

McMullen said she, her boyfriend and children went to the Animal Care and Protective Services building in the Mixon Town neighborhood earlier this month to find a family pet.

According to reports from the city, McMullen and Terrence were interacting with a dog up for adoption at ACPS and the visit was going well, so the 3-year-old dog with short golden fur, named Thor, was taken off a leash.

"We went into a room with the dog and the dog acted fine at first," McMullen recounted. "We took the dog outside and the dog just started running in circles. I thought he was playing."

McMullen said the dog was initially calm and playful. But when her son picked up a toy, according to city reports, the dog came over to him and grabbed his shirt.

"The dog was then, at this point, playing tug of war with my child and his shirt and his pants," McMullen said. "So I am trying to lift him up to get him out of these clothes and the dog had attached to his right leg."

Her son said he remembers it vividly. 

"I got the ball. I tried to play with the dog and I threw the ball. He jumped on my shirt and he got on my pants," Terrence said. "He bit me."

The mother tried to pull the boy away from the dog and another adult, whom McMullen identified as her boyfriend, hit the dog in the face with a rope toy, according to the reports from the city. That's when the boy was bitten on the finger and hip, and the mother was bitten in the stomach, city reports show.

McMullen said it took five to 10 minutes before the dog stopped. McMullen said a worker who was with them left and called for help, but she said that took too long too. 

"I just wanted my son. I wanted my baby. I was talking to the dog like it was a human, like, 'Give me my baby back. You cannot have him,'" McMullen said.

McMullen said she has hired an attorney and plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

"I feel like, personally, they need to be shut down," she said. "They just kept saying, 'This has never happened before. This has never happened.' I understand accidents happen, but at the same time, y'all should be prepared for this if it does happen."

According to the city, ACPS has not been notified of any pending litigation about the incident. 

McMullen believes the city should cover her medical bills. It's unclear whether the city will do so, but it did say, "an incident report has been filed with the city's Risk Management Division."

The dog was humanely euthanized Friday after being quarantined for 10 days, a city spokesperson said.

When asked Monday about the case, the city spokesperson told News4Jax that "animal interactions are supervised and/or monitored. At the time of this incident, the interaction was supervised" and the investigation is closed. 

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