|With a thick bandage encasing her lacerated left arm and an IV needle protruding from her right, pit bull victim: Pilar Moreira stifled tears Friday to speak out against the dogs.
Pilar Moreira holds a picture of her daughter Melissa, who was severely injured in the pit bull attack. The mother was bitten in the arm while trying to stop the dog. Roberto Schmidt/Miami Herald
"We are going to plead for the public to back us up so we can pass an ordinance so that people cannot have pit bulls within city limits or suburb neighborhoods with children." Moreira said from her bed at AMI Kendall regional Medical Center.
Such a countywide law, she said, might prevent future attacks.
In the bed alongside Moreira lay her 8-year-old daughter Melissa, temporarily shielded from view by a sliding curtain. The girl was disfigured Monday when a next-door neighbor's pit bull got loose for a brief, violent rampage that injured four people.
"She has had mutilation to her face - the type you would see in war," plastic surgeon Jorge Suarez-Menendez said of Melissa's injuries.
A patch of the child's forehead and scalp was ripped away, the doctor said.
"She lost a lot of tissue in the forehead and the upper eyelids, the eyebrows and the nasal area and left lower cheek. She lost about a third of her upper and lower lip," he said.
"The dog came out and he went for my daughter's face. He went straight for her face," Moreira said. "He wouldn't let go."
||The attack occurred when the mother and child returned to their West Dade home after a grocery-shopping trip. Melissa's grandmother, Amada Pozo, came out of the house to help carry things.
Suddenly, the dog was in their midst tearing at Melissa's face.
When the women tried to wrestle the dog away, they were badly bitten. Pozo had to have her nose sewn back in place and lost eight teeth, the family said.
Melissa's father, sports promoter Julio Moreira, was inside the family's home when the dog struck."I heard my daughter come in screaming. I didn't know what happened. You can imagine what I thought when I saw her bloody," he said."I rushed outside and I saw my wife and my mother on the ground bleeding. I didn't know whether somebody had killed people or it was a traffic accident," he said.
A neighbor, John Amat, 22, heard the uproar and reached the dog before Julio Moreira did. Moreira credited Amat who suffered puncture wounds in one arm, with saving lives. Another neighbor killed the still-struggling animal with a handgun.
The dog belonged to Jose M. Rodriguez, according to Metro Dade police. He was not available for comment Friday.Melissa and her 10-year-old sister Pily have long been afraid to play in their own backyard, the girls' mother said. Tamiami Lake Park and the playground of Joe Hall Elementary School are across the street from Rodriguez's home."These pit bulls were sitting next to my house in a school zone, and it's very dangerous," Pilar Moreira said."We would like for all the parents to support us and the commissioners to back us up in trying to pass a law for these dogs," she said.