Harrison County

Compensation for pit bull attack could elude Biloxi family

‘It was bad’: Homeowner describes her son’s dog attacking two boys

Biloxi resident Martha Broussard describes how a dog that was staying at her home attacked brothers Bentley Fontan, 5, and Jaxon Ronsonet, 15, on November 10, 2016. Ronsonet's injuries were so serious that he had to be lifted to Ochsner Medical Ce
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Biloxi resident Martha Broussard describes how a dog that was staying at her home attacked brothers Bentley Fontan, 5, and Jaxon Ronsonet, 15, on November 10, 2016. Ronsonet's injuries were so serious that he had to be lifted to Ochsner Medical Ce

Jaxon Ronsonet, 15, remains in danger of losing his left leg and has been moved to the pediatric intensive care unit of Ochsner Medical Center, where he was airlifted Thursday after being attacked by a pit bull next door to his grandmother’s house.

His mother, Tiffany Ronsonet, said doctors gave them the option Tuesday of amputating Jaxon’s leg or attempting to transfer a muscle from his back to replace his mauled calf muscle.

“We discussed it with him and he made the decision that he wants to try to keep his leg,” Ronsonet said. “There’s no guarantee the surgery will take. Even if he does keep his leg, he will never walk normally without a brace, the doctors told us.”

She said vascular, orthopedic and plastic surgeons are working on a plan to restore the muscles, tendons, nerves and bones the dog shredded.

Jaxon’s father, Rosco Ronsonet, said he isn’t focused on the medical bills right now.

He earns $8 an hour as a construction worker, and his wife recently started a job as a cashier at Food Giant. They have no health insurance to cover Jaxon’s medical expenses. A friend has set up a GoFundMe account, raising $1,305 as of Tuesday afternoon.

The Ronsonets believe they have a good legal case for compensation through the insurance policy on the house where the pit bull stayed.

Even if there were a policy, though, coverage could still be a big “if.” Homeowner insurance policies include coverage for injuries caused by dogs, but pit bulls and other high-risk breeds often are excluded, said Ocean Springs attorney Steve Mullins, who has worked on dog-attack cases.

Mullins believes city governments need to adopt laws requiring owners to register pit bulls and provide proof of coverage for injuries they might cause.

Another issue is proving the dog had a known propensity for biting, called the “one-bite rule.” Though the Ronsonets say the female pit bull had threatened family members before, the dog’s caretaker denies she was vicious.

The dog was scheduled to be euthanized Tuesday for rabies testing because there was no vaccine record, according to the Humane Society of South Mississippi.

For now, the Ronsonets are focused on Jaxon’s recovery.

Rosco Ronsonet said Jaxon told him, “I want to ride my bike again.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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