By Audrey W.
Roy DeSoto brought Rescue Squad 51 to a stop along the curb in front of a one-story home in a cul-de-sac. He and his partner John Gage scrambled from their vehicle and immediately rushed to grab their medical supplies from the compartments located on the passenger side. They’d been dispatched to the scene of a dog attack involving a child and knew that seconds often mattered in these situations.
A police officer’s cruiser and a Dog Catcher’s truck were in the driveway; several curious onlookers stood gathered in small groups on the lawn and on the sidewalk. As the paramedics dashed toward the home, the animal control officer and policeman came from the backyard through an open chain link gate at the side of the house, a black Labrador dog lying motionless on a blanket they carried between them like a hammock.
“The boy’s back there,” the officer said with a nod over his left shoulder. “My partner’s still with ‘im. The dog had to be tranquilized to get to the kid. ”
The paramedics gave the animal another quick glance before they hurried on. When they arrived in the back yard, it was near pandemonium. The other policeman was kneeling beside the victim whose small bloodied form was lying face up in the grass, red stained yellow bath towels across his neck, and wrapped around his left hand and arm. The officer was gently applying pressure to two of the covered wounds.
A woman was being held back by another as she cried out, “I’m sorry! I didn’t know!”
Two other little boys were wailing just inside the back screen door a man had run out of with a blanket.
Johnny and Roy rushed to the injured little boy’s side and immediately set to work on assessing his condition while the man stood by with the blanket ready in the event they needed it.
The youth was clearly in shock.
“He’s lost an awful lot of blood,” Johnny commented to his partner, tuning out the continued cries of the others.
Roy had the officer place an oxygen mask on the boy's face, then went to work examining the wounds, all the while trying to reassure the boy though he wasn't sure he'd understand at the moment anyway. At the same time, Johnny set up the biophone and contacted Rampart General Hospital.
DeSoto then questioned the officer while quickly applying pressure bandages where needed.
“Is that his mother?”
“No. Apparently he lives a few blocks away. Name's Danny Wilson. We’ve got someone trying to contact his parents now. He’s in our custody so he can be treated.”
Roy nodded in acknowledgement.
Doctor Brackett advised an IV and to transport as soon as possible. The siren from the ambulance could be heard as he finished his transmission.
“Any idea what provoked this?” Roy wondered.
“It’s been impossible to get a complete answer out of the other two boys,” the policeman explained. “But it appears to’ve been outta the blue. Maybe the dog got resentful or jealous for some reason.”
Johnny listened to the brief explanation as he started the IV, then closed up the biophone as the boy was placed on a stretcher the ambulance attendants had brought around, the other officer with them. The group headed out of the yard when the distraught woman broke away from the other. She ran over and grabbed Johnny by the left arm, stopping him in mid stride.
“Please, is he gonna be okay? He’s gonna make it, isn’t he?”
“We’re gonna do our best to see that he does.”
“You have to save him! Please!” she sobbed. “I didn’t know a Labrador could do this! I didn’t know my dog would attack! I thought the boys would be okay alone with him!”
Johnny just nodded. He’d heard it before. Most people didn’t think their dogs could harm anyone. He felt bad for the woman. She was going to be dealing with a lot of self-inflicted guilt no matter what the outcome. But right now the young victim fighting for his life was top priority.
She stood sobbing, her shoulders shaking as he hurried to catch up with the others. One of the policemen stood a few feet behind, ready to question her more on the incident.
Johnny and Roy came out of Treatment Room Two at Rampart, their faces somber. They’d done all they could, but the little five-year-old boy had been injured too severely to be saved.
Neither envied Doctor Brackett, who would have to deliver the sad news to his parents.
Johnny let out a sigh. “When are people gonna learn that dogs can be unpredictable? Especially around little kids.”
As a dog owner, Roy could better understand the lack of caution, even enormous trust, with the animals. If he hadn’t encountered bite victims of what were thought to be nice canines over the past few years, he doubted he’d consider his usually friendly dog a possible threat to anyone.
“Maybe if these type of incidents start to make it on the news more often.”
The two headed for the exit, knowing they’d have to put this tragedy behind them and hope they didn’t see another situation like it for a long time to come.
A recent dog attack that killed a child made me want to write this. It was a family pet that displayed no signs of aggression prior to the attack. While it’s really not anyone’s fault, it’s something to think about, especially with children being left alone with a dog or dogs.
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