Nobody knows what provoked Cleo.
But the aftermath is hell for two families on Shady Lane — for the one whose children were seriously injured when the 3-year-old pit bull and terrier mix attacked and for the family next door that owns Cleo.
Jaxon Ronsonet, 15, might lose his left leg, while his little brother, Bentley Fontan, 5, has more stitches than his aunt can count and now finds ordinary objects menacing.
The woman who was keeping Cleo, 54-year-old Martha Broussard, is a nervous wreck. As a mother and grandmother, she feels awful about what happened to the boys and said she will never get images of the attack out of her head.
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All the while, Facebook commenters are rushing to judgment and making menacing comments toward Broussard and her sons.
Saving baby brother
Thursday was unfolding like any ordinary day until Broussard got home with her groceries, set them down and released Cleo from a kennel, she said. She said she had told the boys, who were playing in the side yard, she was about to let Cleo out.
They knew Cleo, as did her own grandchildren. She was keeping the dog for one of her sons and he spent most of the time in a kennel in her dining room.
She said she threw a stick for the dog, then a second. The boys, she said, came around front toward Cleo. Broussard said she warned them to get back.
Cleo, she said, bit Bentley in the behind. His big brother hefted Bentley over a trash can by the driveway, trying to protect him, and started kicking at Cleo. Cleo latched onto Jaxon’s leg.
Broussard grabbed a rake that was leaning against the house and began jabbing Cleo. But Cleo would not let go of Jaxon. Next, Broussard, said, she tried the metal end of a shovel, pounding Cleo over and over. Still, the dog would not let up.
The boys’ aunt, Tiffany Fontan, ran from her home next door when she heard the commotion. She said she threw herself on top of Bentley to protect him, then rushed him inside as the attack on Jaxon escalated.
Fontan says a neighbor finally broke up the attack with a shovel, while Broussard says she brought out food that got Cleo’s attention. Broussard was able to get Cleo back into the house and into her cage. Broussard estimates the attack lasted about 15 minutes.
Afterward, animal control officers took Cleo to the Humane Society of South Mississippi. Her fate is uncertain, but Broussard feels sure the dog will be euthanized.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Broussard, still visibly shaken Sunday. “Y’all just don’t know how bad I feel. Nobody’s going to be able to wipe the memory out of my head.”
Jaxon’s legs were mangled. Broussard said he asked at one point after the attack, “Am I going to be able to walk?”
Tiffany Fontan and Bentley were driving to Ochsner on Sunday to check on Jaxon. Bentley can’t walk. He has stitches in his behind. The top of his right foot is split from his big toe to his ankle. His aunt has been trying to do arts and crafts with him.
She cut out a snow flake and was opening it when Bentley looked at the tips of the flake and said, “Those look like sharp, sharp teeth.”
Jaxon is heavily sedated. His mother, Tiffany Ronsonet, is updating his condition on the GoFundMe page set up to help the family with expenses. He is scheduled to have a third surgery Monday, his aunt said, to clean and flush his wounds and remove more dying tissue. The family does not know if he will be able to keep his left leg.
“He reacted so quick,” Fontan said. “If that dog had done Bentley like it did Jaxon, this baby would not be here today. Jaxon is a hero in our eyes. He may lose his leg. He will not lose it in war, but he will lose it having saved his baby brother's life.
“I've got just as much respect for him as I do someone serving our country. This kid is amazing.”