- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Jaxon Ronsonet, 15, has a firm handshake, a wide smile and a polite manner. And a prosthetic leg to replace the leg he lost after being mauled by a pit bull three months ago.

Life has been anything but normal for Jaxon and his family since Nov. 10, when the dog attacked Bentley, 5, and Jaxon saved his brother by taking the brunt of the dog’s fury. One of the dog’s teeth broke off in Jaxon’s left leg bone. The tooth is believed to be the source of an infection that required amputating his leg.

Jaxon wore himself out Friday afternoon as he used a walker to steady himself while playing cops and robbers with his brother in the backyard of his grandmother’s home on Shady Lane in Biloxi. He’s still getting used to wearing his artificial leg and has additional pain because two bones at the tip of his stump have created bumps. He has to wear extra socks on his stump to ease the pain.

After the attack, he spent about a month in a New Orleans hospital, where doctors at first believed his leg could be saved.

“I’m just glad to be home with my family,” Jaxon said.

Life has changed

Everything in life has changed for Jaxon and his family. He and his mother and brother had lived in a second-floor apartment. They moved in with the grandmother after the accident.

Doctor’s may release him to return to school after the Mardi Gras holiday. He will alternate between using a walker and a wheelchair when he returns to Biloxi High, where he’s a ninth-grader.

His mother, Tiffany Ronsonet, is on a leave of absence from her job, where she was the lead day-shift cashier before the accident.

Ronsonet says she drives to and from New Orleans for Jaxon’s appointments three times a month as well as appointments for Bentley in Jackson and New Orleans.

“He has Medicaid but he does have some medical expenses that Medicaid will not cover, like certain prescriptions and medical supplies such as tape and gauze,” she said.

New GoFundMe account set up

Her husband is no longer in the picture since he drained their joint bank account, which was linked to a GoFundMe account. He took their car and disappeared.

“I haven’t heard from him since,” Ronsonet said.

Biloxi police investigated but said they could not find a crime to charge him with. His name was on the account.

A new GoFundMe account, Help Jaxon and Bentley, was set up, but people have expressed concerns because of what happened to the first account.

The first account had received $7,600 in donations. Ronsonet said she and her husband had a total of $8,000.31 in their bank account, including the GoFundMe money. All that was left was 31cents.

“I got my own checking account at People’s Bank, where some people have left donations, and the new GoFundMe goes in my account and my soon-to-be-ex-husband doesn’t have access to it,” Ronsonet said.

The new fund has a goal of $10,000. A total of $1,570 has been raised. Only $90 in donations were given in the past month.

Ronsonet said she has found free legal consultation to get a divorce but she needs $80 for a legal advertisement since her husband can’t be found. It’s a lesser priority than keeping up with Jaxon’s medical care, she said.

Asking for help

“I don’t like having to ask for help,” Ronsonet said. “We have been so blessed with help, but I’ve got to have gas money for doctor appointments and the costs Medicaid won’t pay. I can’t start back to work until Jaxon can start back to school.

“We’ve made it this far because of prayers and the support of friends and even strangers. But I’m afraid we need more help.”

Jaxon enjoys playing video games, but he sees neighborhood kids playing ball and it makes him sad, Ronsonet said. He is receiving counseling to help him adjust to this major life change.

Jaxon said it’s still painful getting used to his prosthetic leg.

“And I have phantom pains,” he said of the leg he no longer has.

Jaxon describes attack

Jaxon and Bentley Fontan had been playing in the front yard of their grandmother’s home when a pit bull from the house next door attacked them.

The woman who was keeping the dog at her home “looked like she was throwing a stick at the dog, like they were playing fetch,” Jaxon said.

Then the dog went over to the boys.

“The dog bit me in my foot and my butt,” Bentley said.

Jaxon said he tossed his brother on top of a trash can to keep him safe.

“The dog started biting my leg so I started kicking it with my other leg,” Jaxon said. “People tried to get the dog to get off me. Nobody could do it. But they finally got the dog off.”

Ronsonet said her son had nightmares for a while, calling out, “Somebody please get the dog off me,” or “Don’t hit the dog with the shovel again.

The dog, named Cleo, was euthanized. The dog’s rabies test turned out negative.

What caused the dog to attack remains unclear. The woman who was keeping the dog has said she warned the boys to get back when she realized they were in the front yard.

Ronsonet said it’s been heartbreaking to watch Jaxon face the aftermath.

“He is still struggling to come to terms with what has happened to him, Ronsonet said.

Since moving in with her mother, the family has had concerns about the same neighbor’s second dog, also a pit bull. The dog had jumped the fence, landing in their back yard.

An animal control officer came out and secured the pit bull in its own backyard. After the officer left, the dog jumped the fence again, Rosonet said. The officer came back and seized the dog, she said.

“I do know God is watching over us,” she said. “But one thing really bothers me. The family next door has never once apologized to us.”

___

Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com


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