Waxhaw resident, grandmother both recovering after pit bull attack
by Kara Lopp
Jakob Clark hasn’t had Christmas yet.
Though family and friends have brought gifts to his room at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Uptown Charlotte, the 6-year-old is eager to return home and open his gifts from Santa.
The holidays took an abrupt turn for Waxhaw’s Clark family Dec. 22 after Jakob was mauled by his cousin’s young pit bull in Mint Hill. The dog, a male named Blue, also attacked Jakob’s grandmother Muriel Price, 71, who lives next door, as she ran – barefoot – to help Jakob. As both heal, the family says they hope their story will encourage others to use caution around pit bulls.
No criminal charges will be filed “because it is a family involved incident,” Mint Hill Police Lt. Anne Marie Garmon said.
Jakob suffered a blood clot in his left arm, nerve damage to his right arm and right leg and has needed skin grafts. Doctors had to reattach his right eyelid but he doesn’t appear to have lost any sight, Thomas Clark, Jakob’s father said. On Wednesday, Jan. 5, Jakob endured his eighth surgery since the attack and will need more operations, including one to reconstruct the tear duct in his right eye, his father said.
Calling his son “beautiful, brave and resilient,” Thomas Clark wrote of the attack while sitting in Jakob’s hospital room this week.
“It is extremely difficult to relive this incident over and over,” he told the Union County Weekly by e-mail. “We are so lucky to have Jakob still with us. We know that God has special plans for our son. And we are so thankful that Jakob is such a fighter and will eventually be able to come home.”
The St. Matthew Catholic School kindergartener, had been visiting his grandparents’ house Dec. 22 off Matthews-Mint Hill Road and was walking next door to his aunt and uncle’s house at 4514 Matthews-Mint Hill Road when Blue attacked.
Jakob’s mother, Donna, was inside the house and heard Jakob scream. When she looked outside, he was on the sidewalk as Blue attacked him, Thomas Clark said. She was able to pull Jakob free and took him inside. After the attack, he said “I don’t like that dog” and then passed out, Clark said.
When Price ran next door soon after, Blue bit her just below the left elbow and broke her arm, Don Price, her husband and Jakob’s grandfather, said. His wife also broke a toe on her left foot—not because of the dog but it broke when she was running to Jakob. She’s recovering at a rehabilitation center.
Blue, who had been at the house for a few months, had never been aggressive before, family members said. He’d played with the kids, and Muriel Price had taken walks with the dog, Don Price said.
Authorities took Blue to Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Animal Care & Control and he was euthanized the day of the attack. He tested negative for rabies, Animal Care & Control spokeswoman Melissa Knicely said.
“We don’t know what happened,” Don Price said. “He was a good dog. He never bothered anyone.”
But Thomas Clark wishes he’d done his homework before allowing his children near the dog. The family has a German shepherd, and since the attack, Jakob has asked that she not be there when he comes home.
“I feel largely to blame for not knowing better, and that’s what hurts,” he said. “I blame myself for this because I didn’t know any better. It’s not a size issue. When (pit bulls) snap, they snap. Other dogs you end up with a puncture wound. Pit bulls are a bite-and-shake kind of dog. I’m not opposed to the breed. I’m opposed to having the breed have access to people in uncontrolled situations.
“If one good thing can come from this, we would wish that anyone who has children never let their child around this breed of dog. Pit bulls are so powerful and the amount of damage they can inflict in a very short amount of time is amazing. If we can share our story and save one child from this type of incident, we would be very thankful.”
Want to help?
The Clark family has set up a post office box to collect donations to pay for Jakob’s medical bills. To donate, send a check, payable to Jakob Clark, to P.O. Box 78546, Charlotte, NC, 28271-7036.
The family also has set up a website for Jakob where well-wishers can leave messages and get updates on his progress, www.caringbridge.org/visit/jakobclark.