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Boy injured in vicious dog attack

The 5-year-old boy is in fair condition at a hospital. His parents plan to have the family dog humanely destroyed.

By ANGELA MOORE

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 20, 2001


TAMPA -- Scotty Henriquez, like most 5-year-olds, is a ball of energy.

But Monday afternoon, Scotty's energy put him in danger, his parents and grandfather said.

Scotty hit the family's 9-year-old dog, Bear, with a broom, he told his mother later. The chow chow turned on Scotty, biting him repeatedly on the head, shoulder and chest, causing serious, but not life-threatening injuries.

Scotty was rescued by his father, Jack Henriquez, who heard Bear barking and growling and ran outside to find the dog mauling his son. By that time, Bear was out of control.

After Henriquez wrestled his son away from the dog, Bear bit him on the calf.

Paramedics rushed Scotty to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he underwent surgery. The child was in fair condition Monday night. His mother, Renee Henriquez, said Scotty will likely be released today.

"He's a trouper; he's been very brave," Mrs. Henriquez said. "The nurses said they counted 20 bites on him."

Scotty's worst wounds were two cuts on his head, one on top and one just above his left eye, she said. Doctors told Mrs. Henriquez that the scars should fade and be barely noticeable in a few years.

Chows are known as an aggressive breed, and were involved in 11 fatal attacks on humans nationwide from 1979 to 1998, according to a study in the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association.

Bear had never bitten anyone, Mrs. Henriquez said.

"He was aggressive, but only when somebody did something to him, like throwing rocks or something," she said. "We got him mainly as a guard dog."

Mrs. Henriquez said an emergency room doctor told her that chows are responsible for most of the dog bites they treat.

The Henriquezes, who also have an infant daughter, decided to have the dog destroyed rather than take any more chances.

"I know that a lot of animal rights activists are against that, they say that the dog is just being a dog," Mrs. Henriquez said. "But when you see your child in pain."

Hillsborough County Animal Control took the dog and was set to destroy it Monday night.

Scotty's 76-year-old grandfather, Mario Henriquez, who lives with his son's family at 11715 N Blvd., said he was glad the dog was being humanely destroyed.

"I never liked that dog and I'm glad he's not back there anymore," Mario Henriquez said. "I've been scared to go into the backyard ever since they moved in with me six months ago."

Scotty Henriquez is the nephew of Bob Henriquez, a Democratic state representative in District 58.

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