A dad who’s toddler’s face was “ripped off” by a pitbull says there should be tighter restrictions around “dangerous” breeds – including the XL Bully.
JJ Rodriguez, now three, was playing outside in his front yard in Oklahoma with his older sisters just before he was brutally attacked by a neighbour’s pitbull on February 20, 2022.
The tot was left in a critical condition after the attack with his face ripped apart, his skull exposed, and his jaw torn apart by the dog.
His injuries were so severe a priest was called to his bedside.
After the horrific attack, JJ had to stay in the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital for three-and-a-half months and has since had 12 surgeries.
JJ’s dad, Jose, 34, believes “when you own a pitbull, you’re putting everyone around you at risk”.
Jose, a forklift operator, from Spencer, Oklahoma, said: “JJ was a dog lover – but these pitbulls scalped him – they took his nose, jaw and cheekbones off.
“People have tried to say it was our fault for allowing JJ to play around the dogs – but the reality is, when you own a pitbull, you’re putting everyone around you at risk.”
The incident happened when Jose and his wife, Cassandra, 33, a stay-at-home mum, let their seven children play outside.
Cassandra watched them from the front door as they played with teddy bears and sat down by some flower beds, while Jose was showering before work.
After he got out of the shower, he spoke to Cassandra – who picked up their youngest child, Olivia, then five months old, and took her inside for “a minute”.
In the time it took for Cassandra to turn her back – the pair heard JJ begin to scream – and came out to find three pitbulls dragging him along.
Jose said: “I started screaming ‘no’ and I just ran towards the dogs.
“I was fighting with them – trying to physically put myself between them and JJ.
“I got injured too – but it was like nothing compared to what happened to him.
“These dogs did not want to stop – it was like a pack mentality. They wanted to kill my son.”
After 30 seconds of struggle between Jose, JJ and the dogs – Jose saw his opportunity when the “leader” opened its mouth – and threw his arm in there, giving JJ time to escape.
They ran off but JJ was left with life-threatening injuries. His sister, Khloe, 13, dialled 911.
“I turned JJ around,” Jose said. “I thought he was dead. But then, he started crying and I was filled with hope.
“I looked at his face, and there was just nothing there. I could see into his throat – and he was choking on his own blood.
“I’m usually such a highly-strung, stressed-out kind of guy. But I was extremely calm. I kept rubbing his back, telling him he was going to be OK.”
Alongside JJ’s rehabilitation, Jose and Cassandra are fighting for more legislation around dangerous dogs – and they believe the current laws in Oklahoma are “archaic”.
Jose said: “In the state of Oklahoma, dog bites are very outdated.
“We have this thing called the ‘One Bite’ law – in which country dogs are allowed one free bite. I didn’t know any of this until it happened to my son.
“The jaw-dropping thing is – nurses told us he was the 35th dog bite case they’d seen so far that year. It was February.”
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