Jacklyn Tucker, a Palm Beach, Florida girl, is scheduled to undergo her third surgery in a month today. This surgery, meant to allow her to open her mouth, is the result of a savage dog attack that happened during a sleepover on June 19. Jacklyn is now expected to have to undergo reconstructive surgeries for years. It is not clear whether the family will be pursuing legal damages.
Sources indicate that Tucker, 11, was attacked during the sleepover at a friends’ house. The owners of the dog have not been identified in public reports. The attack apparently happened when the girl fell off of a couch at her friend’s home. She looked up to find the family dog, a looked up to find the family dog, an English Bulldog and Jack Russell Terrier mix named Tanker, facing her and growling. “I just kept my eyes closed. I just laid there, and I closed my eyes, hoping the dog would just go away,” she was quoted as telling a family friend after the attack.
The dog, instead of retreating, jumped on the girl and bit her face. The bite severed her lip, which the owner of the dog apparently had to retrieve from the living room floor and give to medical workers. It also severed part of the girl’s nose.
The repercussions of the bite have been terrible for Jacklyn. First she was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center, where she was given over 100 stitches, emergency skin grafts, and lip and nose reconstruction surgery. Doctors treated her every day following the surgery, attempting to make her body hospitable to the grafts by upping her oxygen levels. But her body rejected the skin grafts, forcing doctors to explore other options.
After her bad reaction to the first surgery, Jacklyn was taken to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. There, Dr. Drew Schnitt, a plastic surgeon with complex reconstruction experience, designed a surgery that used part of Jacklyn’s bottom lip to replace her top lip. The second surgery, which took place in early July, gave Jacklyn with two lips again. Unfortunately, her lips were stitched together, making it impossible for her to open her mouth properly. During her surgery today, doctors will separate and align her lips, something that Jacklyn is reportedly quite happy about.
More reconstructive surgery will follow, perhaps spanning years, according to reports. The first surgeries, which doctors apparently described as “not for looks,” are meant to merely reconstruct the missing tissue of Jacklyn’s mouth and nose. Later, doctors may spend time making those areas look more natural. In the meantime, though, press reports indicate that Jacklyn is taking everything in stride and is no longer self-conscious about people staring at her when she goes out.
Following the attack, the dog’s owners handed him over to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control. It is not clear whether the dog had ever attacked anyone else before attacking Jacklyn. It was placed in quarantine for 10 days before being euthanized.