A St. Augustine, Florida man who adopted a 14-pound Shih-Tzu dog from a local shelter is now fighting to save the dog’s life after his new pet bit a five-year-old boy.
Cyrus, the shih-tzu, was taken into custody at the St. Johns County Animal Control. But Philip Stoddard, Cyrus’ new owner, says that the hearing was a “rush to judgment” and is fighting to have the order rescinded.
Cyrus was staying at a foster home in St. Augustine in April when he escaped from the house and ran to a 5-year-old boy who was riding in a battery-operated car. According to the boy’s mother, Cyrus bit and bruised the boy, whom she said in an affidavit was terrorized and traumatized by the attack.
Stoddard said that the mother was four or five houses away from the boy, and did not witness the attack. She called the Sheriff’s Office, and the deputy who responded to the call did not impound the dog.
However, a Department of Animal Control hearing officer ruled that Cyrus is a “dangerous dog” because the injuries were severe and the attack was unprovoked. The boy’s dog bite injuries included a lacerated ear that took 10 stitches to close at Flagler Hospital.
Stoddard disputes the severity of the injuries, which he says could have been caused when the boy fell from the vehicle. He has appealed the ruling in an effort to save his new pet.
The number of pets being adopted from shelters has risen in the past couple of years. While this is certainly a good thing for our society, the incidence of dog bites is also rising. Owners of adopted dogs should take extra caution in the first few months of ownership to become totally familiar with a dog’s disposition and should never allow a pet to run free. Those who do not take this responsibility seriously may find themselves in need of a dog bite lawyer.