Near death's door

Senior citizen suffering in hospital from severe dog bites

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 21, 2018

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YET another senior citizen man has been attacked by vicious dogs.

Hopeton Smith, a 61-year-old gardener, was in the process of washing a driveway in Hope Pastures, St Andrew, when he was attacked by two rottweilers at approximately 11: 00 am two Thursdays ago.

Smith underwent emergency surgery after suffering two broken arms and bites all over his body, but there are other injuries that must be attended to surgically.

As a result of the attack, his livelihood is threatened by his inability to use his arms.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, told the Jamaica Observer that the dogs reportedly belong to a neighbour who, when the incident occurred, showed more concern about one of the dog's welfare.

“I saw the gardener on the ground in the yard and the dogs were ripping him apart. I run out of my car to give him assistance, but when I reach close I had to grab a chair. I was using the chair to fight off the dogs, to scare them off, but I recognised that it was two rottweiler dogs from [in the area]. It was a never-ending battle because every time I get them to release the gardener they would come at me. So I would back off, and they would grab him again and pull him all over the place,” the eyewitness said.

“I kept shouting to him get up and run. He was released and get up one time and the dogs grabbed him back again. The third time when they released him I said, 'Hopeton, you going to make them kill you? You got to run now'? That's when him get the strength to run around the back and lock himself in the house,” the eyewitness recalled.

The eyewitness said the dogs then turned their attention on others close by, forcing people to flee in several directions.

“I was very fearful. In that moment you fear for your life. If I had thought about it I wouldn't intervene, [but] I always help people. They were coming at me because of the blood they already taste, [so] I run and lock the gate and lock them out,” the eyewitness said.

The horror story ended only when a motorist observed what was taking place and decided to help

“Him stop and seh 'How can I help?' Mi seh, 'Yuh have a gun?' Him seh him don't have nuh gun. Wi start seh what if schoolchildren a walk pass? This is dangerous. It was not a pretty thing. The man just go back and rev up him Honda, turn it around rev it up again, and just drove over one of the dogs. We thought he (dog) died, but he never died. This is when now the owner for the dog come out and start to attack [him] for driving over the dog,” the eyewitness said.

“I said, 'Don't worry about that. You have a dead man around here to worry about'. Him (owner) lock up one dog and the other one was still in the road after him drive over it. After that the man got assistance. We wrapped him up. If I lost that amount of blood I wouldn't be alive to tell you the truth,” the eyewitness said.

Smith was rushed to University Hospital of the West Indies where he was admitted.

The eyewitness said police officers later responded to a 119 call placed by one of the domestic workers present.

When the Observer contacted the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Corporate Communication Unit we were told that they had no report of the incident.

The Observer on Tuesday visited the injured man, who wept while speaking about the incident.

“Is this Hopeton Lewis Smith come to?” he said, while shaking his head with tears in his eyes.

“I never see them coming. I was washing off the driveway when them attack me. Is because you don't know, Miss. Mi couldn't manage them,” he said.

Smith is the second senior citizen to be attacked by vicious dogs in two months.

In August, the Observer reported the death of 66-year-old Whittington Cole, who was attacked by four dogs in Hampton Green, St Catherine, on July 21.

Cole was walking in the community about 12:45 am when he was attacked at the intersection of Grant's Crescent and Locksley Avenue by dogs believed to be pit bulls and Rottweilers.

Since then, Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw has ordered a review of century-old legislation pertaining to dogs.

This also prompted a call from the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association (JVMA) for the establishment of a mechanism for the regulation and certification of dog trainers.

The JVMA said the country needed to redouble its efforts at reviewing outdated laws and creating modern animal welfare legislation that meets international standards and guidelines for public education and dog population control for the protection of both people and animals.

A review of regional laws revealed that Jamaica is among five Caribbean Community member states lagging behind as it relates to exploring legislation which would govern the control of dangerous dogs.

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