Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reality Bites

On May 13th, a Wednesday evening, my son asked me if he could ride his bike up to his friends' house and see if they could come out and play. I told him the usual: "Sure, just check back with me in an hour if you decide to stay." A little while later I tore myself away from whatever Wife Swap or Trading Spouses rerun I was watching to go in the kitchen and start dinner. I had just dragged something out of the freezer when I heard the front door open and Jamie yell, "I'm back!" Or at least I thought that's what he'd said the first couple of times. Finally I went to the door to see why he had insisted on announcing his arrival with so much enthusiasm. What I found instead was my child standing on my front porch, bleeding. I asked him what happened. He said he'd been attacked, and I kept waiting for the punchline. For him to tell me that he had taken his fake blood outside with him and that this was a (not funny) joke. There was a stain on his shoulder. He had wet his pants. He was holding his wrist. "What?" I said. "I've been attacked by a pit bull!" He was sobbing and embarrassed that he'd wet his pants. I pulled him into the bathroom to look at his wrist, which was bleeding heavily. Once I got a good look at it, the reality of the situation finally started sinking in...

I ran back to my bedroom both to grab my cell phone and my jeans because I knew we would be leaving soon. I called 911. I sat Jamie down in the kitchen and took all of his clothes off because I didn't want to miss anything. There was a bleeding hole at the top of his chest just below his left shoulder. There were bleeding tears on his right side. His right wrist was swollen and bleeding terribly. When I hung up the phone I went to his room to get him some underwear and a towel because by then he was telling me he thought he was going to throw up and because I knew he wouldn't want the paramedics to see him without any clothes on. I noticed someone standing on my front porch and realized it was the dog's owner. The man stood there with a lit cigarette. He wanted to know if he could come in and I said no, that my son was too upset and that the ambulance was on its way. The man told me my son "swatted at the dog." My response to that was to ask his name and phone number, which he gave me.

The paramedics approached while the man was still standing there. Once inside, they could not have been any more professional or caring when dealing with both my son and me. The same goes for the police and the nurses and doctors at the emergency room. Luckily the x-ray showed that Jamie's wrist was not broken. The doctor told me he did not like to stitch dog bites and that was just fine with Jamie and me both. They sent us home with prescriptions, extra gauze and something to wash out his wounds.

That night was a long one. Jamie was sore and scared and did not want to be left alone. I stayed in bed with him until dawn, went I went to lie down in my own bed to get a little rest by myself. I laid there only a few minutes, the first I'd had alone since Jamie left the house to go look for his friends. It was then that reality--and my emotions--hit me hard. My sweet boy left on his bicycle and came home scarred for life. The night before he'd told me that his friends didn't answer when he knocked on their door so he decided to ride his bike down the hill because he likes to feel the wind in his face. Instead, a vicious animal charged at him and knocked him off his bicycle and attacked him. The owner finally--thankfully-- pulled his animal off of my son. Then, bleeding, scared and soaked in urine, my son got on his bicycle and rode home. By himself. I cannot even begin to imagine the terror and the pain that he must have felt. I am so proud of him for having the bravery and the wherewithal and the goddamn guts he did for getting himself home.

I am angry, too. Angry that the animal's owner has never once said to me or to my son that he is sorry for what happened. Angry that this man seems to think that he bears no responsibility whatsoever in this case. Angry that the law where I live allows an animal like that to still be living today. Angry that since my son was attacked that the animal once again got loose and put other innocent people in danger. Angry that these animals are allowed to exist at all. Angry that my son is afraid to ride his bicycle.

Today was a small victory in court. The man and his wife showed up to plead not guilty. They tried to tell the prosecutor that their animal didn't bite anyone, but the prosecutor had the photographs. They tried to say that their animal had been on a leash and got away, but the prosecutor didn't buy it. They tried to say that their animal was (brace yourself) going to be a search and rescue animal for the police department, and the prosecutor was just as stunned-looking as I was.

So they plead guilty. They will have to pay fines. I don't know how much, but like I say this is only a small victory until the next court date.


Frank Irwin said...

Oh, Amy, I am soooooo sorry to hear about this! I got bit by a dog while riding my bike as a kid, but nothing like what Jamie went through! He's such a brave kid! I hope that he heals quickly, physically and mentally.

And I hope those assholes lose their dog.

revolutionaire. said...

Wow. I feel sick just reading this. I can't imagine the terror Jamie must have felt when that dog was attacking him. I can't fathom the amount of strength and courage he mustered to get up off the ground and ride his bike back to you. What a brave boy.

The dog should be put down. No question about it. The people should be fined and reminded daily that their dog attacked an innocent child. And they should feel sick to know their dog could have easily done much, MUCH more harm.

I am so sorry you and Jamie are both going through this. I hope he's recovering nicely, and bravely. One day I hope he gets back on his bike to feel the wind in his face again. Give him hugs and love and praises of bravery from your friend out here in the blogosphere.


amy said...

Frank: I am reluctant to use the word amazing because I think it gets thrown around too much, but in this case I believe it truly applies to my kid. He is amazing! And even though I am a lover of dogs, I will celebrate the day this particular animal is no longer on this earth.

Alison: Thank you for what you said here. I can't fathom it, either. I also do not understand the mentality of the people who own the animal and probably never will. Turning the victim into the perpetrator is, to me, a form of evil. Especially when we are talking about a child.

martinstone said...

WOW! I am so glad he is ok, good luck with the dog owners!

afro amber said...

I got to you blog from List of the Day.

Coming from a stranger, as a parent reading this was just crushing, I can't even imagine. I think you handled the dog owner very well. I know I wouldn't have been able to kept it together as well as you did.

I live near Atlanta, GA and the dog laws here for vicious animals are horribly lacking. I moved here from MD, and that is one thing I miss, the strict laws against vicious animals like the one that attacked your son, in MD that dog would be ordered by the court to be put to sleep.

If you know someone with a small, friendly dog maybe take your son to see it sometime and let him see not all dogs are mean.

I hope he's all better soon, with a mom like you to take care of him I'm sure he will be. :)

amy said...

Amber: Thank you for your kind words. Yesterday was another day of frustration after sitting in the courtroom for several hours only to have the owner be granted a continuance. Apparently he is still operating under the delusion that the animal a.) didn't bite anyone b.) that the animal is being missed on the show dog circuit and c.) that I'm going to go away. So another two weeks (at least) before any decision will be made. Luckily the dog remains on hold and the county's facility.

As for Jamie, his resilience has shined even more these last several weeks. Jamie is a lover of all animals, especially dogs. Our dog Honey is a border collie mix that Jamie adores, and they are pretty much inseperable.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment here. I hope you'll come back!


Frank Irwin said...

It's good to hear that Jamie's doing well!

I'd been wanting to get an update, but had fogotten whose blog I read this story on. :-( I'm glad that Afro Amber commented.

amy said...

Thank you, Frank! :-)

Reenie said...

Amy - Like Alison, I'm sickened. The owner is so digusting I can't believe it. Gah. Your son IS amazing and so are you. Congrats for not relapsing. Christ, I wanted a drink just reading this. I celebrated my first year on January 27th. Isn't life grand being sober. I love my life, but I hate people like the asshole with the dog. Bravo to you and your son for being so brave.

Cary said...

I don't care what anybody says, pit bulls are a menace regardless of how they are raised. I'm just glad J wasn't hurt any worse.