POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – A young Mulberry boy is still recovering after a neighbor’s dog mauled him on his face, arm and leg. He had extensive surgery right after the attack happened.
Five-year-old Jeremiah Ortiz has bites across his face and underwent plastic surgery Tuesday night, according to his brother Kody.
The hospital where the boy was being treated wouldn’t release information on his condition Wednesday, but neighbors along Wood Road were hoping and praying for a quick recovery.
“It breaks my heart,” family friend Crystal Giddens said.
While playing around his neighbor’s Australian Shepard mix, little Jeremiah found himself in the fight of his life against the dog that turned on him around 4:30 pm Tuesday.
Ernie Haygood lives with the dog’s owner and drove up as the mauling unfolded.
“I said he’s gone crazy, I’m going to have to kill him,” Haygood said. “I was hitting him across the head and back and all,” Haygood added.
Haygood grabbed the closest weapon he saw– a chain- and struck the animal over and over, which didn’t faze the dog named Bruiser.
“It would get him off of one and he’d go to another,” Haygood said.
In all, five people got caught in the tussle–but the five-year-old-boy got the worst of it.
“The ones on his mouth go from the corners and all the way down and his mom said his mouth was hanging down. And on his leg,” Jeremiah’s brother Kody described the wounds.
Hagood’s only had the dog at his house for the past three months but described him as a good pet that never showed aggression.
But something came over him in an instant so terrorizing that Haygood grabbed his gun and ended it once and for all.
“If it hadn’t been stopped he would have killed him right there. I’m serious,” Haygood said.
The dog’s owner was cited for not having vaccination records but the sheriff’s office doesn’t expect to file any criminal charges.
Neighbors said the Ortiz had been around the dog before but for whatever reason, Tuesday the animal showed a side they had never seen before.