Royal Palm Beach girl, 11, recovering from having part of nose, upper lip bitten off by dog at sleep

WEST PALM BEACH —

The brown-haired, dark-eyed girl lay in her hospital bed Friday, laughing, even though her father had just told her not to.

Eleven-year-old Jacklyn Tucker's face was bandaged to protect her recently reconstructed nose and lip, and she could barely talk because a dog had bitten off parts of her face. But she couldn't help laughing.

"She's so brave," said Jennifer Calderon, a family friend.

The Royal Palm Beach girl was at a friend's house for a sleepover Tuesday night. She told her dad she was on the family's couch, but she fell. When she got up, she saw the family's dog standing in front of her, growling. She didn't know what else to do, so she closed her eyes.

"I just kept my eyes closed," Jacklyn told Calderon on Wednesday. "I just laid there, and I closed my eyes, hoping the dog would just go away."

But the dog didn't go away. Instead, it jumped on Jacklyn, biting her on her side and face. The damage to her nose and upper lip was so severe that Jacklyn had to undergo plastic surgery Tuesday after she was brought to the hospital by Trauma Hawk, said her father, Jack Tucker.

The Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control report said the dog's owner told the officer he picked Jacklyn's lips "off the floor to give them to EMS."

The owner surrendered the dog, a Jack Russell Terrier and English Bulldog mix named Tanker, to Animal Care and Control. It is in a 10-day quarantine, after which the animal likely will be euthanized because it will not be put up for adoption, said Sgt. Ann McCaffrey- Edler, a dangerous-dog coordinator at the agency.

The dog's owners have not yet been given a citation, but McCaffrey- Edler said the investigation is not yet finished.

Jacklyn was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary's Medical Center on Friday, waiting to see if skin grafts will be successful. Each day she undergoes two two-hour sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which increases both the oxygen levels in her blood and the blood flow to her wounds to help her heal.

Despite the traumatic experience, her dad says she's in good spirits.

"She keeps asking for people to come see her every day," Tucker said. "She's doing a lot better."

He added, with a chuckle, she just "needs to quit talking, though."

More than anything, it seems, Jacklyn worries about her friend at whose house the attack happened.

"She (doesn't) want her friend to think it's her fault or anything," Tucker said. "She tries to calm me down about being mad at the parents. She's like, ‘It's not their fault. It's the dog.' "

While Jacklyn tries to heal, her father finds himself unable to work as a tow-truck driver and facing a mountain of medical bills.

"I got to stay constantly with her," Tucker said. "I told her I'll be here with her the whole time."

To help with the mounting costs, Calderon, Tucker's boss and family friend, has organized a July 26 fundraiser. Sponsors include Park Avenue BBQ Grille, Badcock Furniture and the Law Offices of William Abramson . For more information, contact Calderon at (561) 684-8670.

In the meantime, Jacklyn wants her friends, family and well-wishers to know that she's hanging in there. She doesn't want them to worry.

"I'm fine," Jacklyn said.

"We'll get through it," her dad added. "She's being strong. Stronger than me."

Print this article Back to Top

Comments