PUBLISHED: 11:58 AM on Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Girl, 10, saves brother from dog attack

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Five-year-old Larry Jackson Jr. stays close to his sister Sylina Jackson. The 10-year-old girl received a certificate from Capital City Fire and Rescue for her bravery in protecting her brother from a dog.
Sylina Jackson didn't think about her own safety when a black Labrador Retriever lunged at her.

The 10-year-old bravely shoved her 4-year-old brother Larry Jackson Jr. behind her to shield him from the dog attack.

"I wasn't really thinking. I just wanted to save my brother and not let him be a chew toy," said Sylina, a Mendenhall River Elementary school fourth-grader. "I was a bit surprised and little frightened."

Sylina and Larry went to a neighbor's house in Juneau's Mendenhall Valley on Jan. 30 for an arranged play date.

Before the friend could put the dog inside, Patch slipped from his collar and darted toward Larry, who's about the same height as the dog. Sylina pushed her brother behind her and covered her face and neck with her right arm. She shoved her brother out of harms way, but she suffered nine punctures and three gashes.

For her bravery, Sylina received a certificate commending her actions from Capital City Fire and Rescue Chief Eric Mohrmann on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at her home.

"I hope you'll come visit us at the station. You're a brave girl," Mohrmann said as he was leaving the Jackson home.

"I want to," Sylina said with excitement.

"I would like that."

The day of the attack, playmates took Sylina home, and her mother called 911.

"I blinked and the EMTs were at the door. She had an immediate skin reaction, and that was scary because you don't know if the dog has had its shots," said April Jackson, Sylina's mother.

The dog had up-to-date vaccinations and was quarantined after the attack. It was deemed dangerous by Animal Control, but is in its owner's care, April said.

April said her daughter told her at the emergency room, that the dog didn't know what he was doing.

"Our neighbors did what was right in the moment. They called to check on the kids and sent Sylina roses, but I don't know what's going to happen to the dog now," April said.

"I saw Patch loose in the yard the other day and I just started crying. No matter how much we love our dog, we'd have her put down. But Sylina has no bad feelings toward Patch. She's teaching us everyday."

Sylina said she's not afraid of any animal except "venomous ones."

"As a parent, your initial reaction is anger," Larry Jackson, Sr. said. "That's not what it's about. It's about trying to treat everyone right."

Larry Sr. said his daughter has always been an animal lover.

"I still love him (the dog) and I forgive him," Sylina said.

April said Sylina has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was three.

"She'd use up all of our Bandaids. She'd put them on her Beanie Babies," April said.

Sylina is now enjoying taking her 6-month-old German Shepard, Duchess, to obedience school.

"At the emergency room she looked at me and said 'People need to love their animals enough to train them,'" April said. "She's unbelievable."

April said her daughter has taught her about courage and compassion.

"We're very proud of her for thinking that way," April said.

Sylina missed a week of school, and her mother dressed her wounds at home each day.

Larry Jr. celebrated his fifth birthday Monday, Feb. 13, two weeks after the accident, and April said she was grateful that day.

"It's very humbling. The EMTs said that because of his size Larry wouldn't have survived that kind of attack. On his birthday, I just thought that we almost didn't have him here," April said.

April said Larry has been quieter and stays closer to her since the accident and often talks of the dog going to bite him.

April said that her children were had not been playing with or talking to Patch. She said she wants children and parents to be aware of the accident so it does not occur again to someone else.

"They knew this dog. This could happen to anyone," April said.