Family of toddler attacked by pit bull shares ordeal
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- The family of a South Florida girl mauled by a pit bull Wednesday said they are thankful the toddler is alive but also want to see the dog's owner held accountable for an attack, doctors said, will leave permanent scars.
Three-year-old Ja'riyah Jones is recovering from her ordeal at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach after she was bitten in the face. Her grandfather, Cornelius Christon, said he is grateful his granddaughter will be OK. "By the grace of God, that dog let her go because he could have mauled her and killed her," he said.
Ja'riyah's mother, Courtney Christon, said she was watching her children play outside their Palm Beach Gardens home and went inside for just for a minute to get water. She said it was in that brief minute that Ja'riyah went across the street where a pit bull named Rusty was tethered to a truck.
"I was told by the little boy that she was playing with that when she was on the sidewalk, by the dog," said Courtney Christon. "He jumped out and bit her."
The victim's mother said her other children witnessed the attack. "My other kids said, 'Mommy, look,'" she said. "I turned around and saw blood everywhere."
Rusty's owner said he was outside with the canine, working on his truck and went inside for a matter of minutes when the dog lunged at Ja'riyah. "Did I go inside and clean up after I was working on the truck out here for hours? Yes," said Dale Bird. "The dog was out here for hours. Was I away from the dog for hours? No."
Cornelius Christon said he disagrees with Bird's claim. "Dale was in the house for hours; he wasn't out there," he said. "I know this for a fact."
Bird insisted his dog is docile. "Rusty is my pet; he is a beloved pet," he said. "He is not a mean dog. He reacted briefly."
Cornelius said he told Bird to get rid of the pit bull on prior occasions. "If he was friendly, he wouldn't have attacked my grandbaby and bit her," he said. "I think now he is just going to be an aggressive dog. She's going to be afraid, and I don't think the dog should go back to him."
Rusty is currently in quarantine at Animal Care and Control, which is protocol after a bite.
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