Flipping through the television channels, you might run into what is commonly referred to as a dog show. These “shows” are essentially beauty contests for dogs. In addition to appearance, however, the dogs that are entered into the contests must also perform tricks. Etiquette and poise are critical factors that weigh into the judges’ decision making. One false step or sign of disobedience can destroy a dog owner’s chances of taking home a substantial award.
We all wish that our own dogs were so well-groomed and well-behaved, but such is not always the case. Even though we love our canine companions, very little can be done about their inherently wild nature. When a dog barks incessantly at 3 o’clock in the morning, there isn’t a logical explanation. You can tell it to be quiet, but that is only a temporary solution. In the end, while dogs are domestic, they are not human. Their actions are not always predictable, and sometimes, they can even hurt people by biting or clawing them.
Thousands of Americans are brought to the emergency room every year for dog attack injuries. Many of these bite victims bear scars for years afterward, despite the rigorous treatment that is often required. Thankfully, the law provides the means with which the harmful effects of a dog attack injury can be mitigated. Under certain circumstances, the victims can seek financial compensation from the dog’s owner or keeper.
On Saturday, March 28, 2015, 35-year-old Gracieuse Jean-Baptiste and her 9-year-old son Shamar were enjoying a warm, sunny day at their Ft. Lauderdale, Florida home. Gracieuse was also with her husband and her young son. The family of four was outside in their driveway at 43rd Avenue in the Broadview Park neighborhood. Shamar and his younger sister were riding their bikes while their parents looked on proudly. But in moments, their expressions of pride and joy would turn to absolute horror.
Out of nowhere, a large dog came running down the street towards the family. It was a pit-bull terrier mix and it was headed straight for Shamar. Before Gracieuse and her husband could react, the dog leapt onto Shamar’s back while he was on his bike. The dog sank its teeth into the boy, and he screamed. Then Gracieuse and her husband stepped up. They hit the dog with a broom and a skateboard, but at first, it was to no avail. The dog would not relent.
When it finally released its vice-grip on Shamar, the dog turned its attention to the newest threat: Gracieuse. It bit her several times on the leg before authorities from the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption arrived to sedate it.
Gracieuse and her son were taken by Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue to Broward Health Medical Center, where they remain. The dog’s owner, Enrique Rivera, was issued two citations. One alleges that the dog was not registered in Broward County and did not have a current rabies vaccination. The second orders that the dog must wear a muzzle until further notice.