BREAKING: Riviera Beach CRA worker badly bitten by dogs, county says

A Riviera Beach “public-service ambassador” collecting trash on Tuesday fought off two pit bull-mix dogs, each weighing at least 60 pounds, who attacked him so ferociously he had to be hospitalized, authorities said.

The animals now are in a 10-day rabies quarantine, and Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control will decide if their assault merits being euthanized. A man cited as their owner also faces hundreds of dollars in fines.

The worker, whose identify the city did not disclose, was bit on his arms, hands, thighs and chest, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control Capt. David Walesky said. He said the most severe injury was to one hand, “so it’s probably defensive, to get the dogs off him.”

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Walesky did not know the worker's condition except to say his investigators described the bites as "moderate or severe."

At about 9:45 a.m., Walesky said, the worker was driving a golf cart in the 2500 block of Broadway, near Blue Heron Boulevard, when the dogs, who had escaped from a fenced yard a few doors away, “aggressively approached.” He said the man “was able to scare the female away at first, but then the male came and she (the female) was right behind him.”

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A Riviera Beach police spokeswoman referred questions to the city’s Fire-Rescue spokesman, who did not respond to inquiries.

The injured man has worked for four years as a “public-service ambassador” for the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, CRA operations Manager Darlene Hatcher said Tuesday. She said such workers pick up trash, meet and greet residents and give directions, among other duties.

Hatcher said the man, who she did not identify, was picking up garbage near the Walgreens pharmacy at Broadway and Blue Heron when he was attacked. She said he was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach for treatment. She did not provide his condition and did not respond to a follow-up call later Tuesday.

RELATED Palm Beach County's 'bad dog court' decides life or death for pups

Walesky said his agency cited a man he identified as Terence Lark for having a loose animal, for not having given it proper shots and tags and for not having a proper permit for small-scale “hobby breeding.” Walesky said Lark faces potential fines totaling about $500.

Walesky said Lark acknowledged ownership of the 60-to-70 pound female and the three puppies, who were back at his home about three doors down from where the worker was attacked. He said Lark denied owning the 70-to-80 pound male, but refused to identify its owner, so Animal Care and Control listed him as owner of all the dogs.

Lark could not be located for comment.

If the dogs clear quarantine, Animal Care and Control then would start an investigation that would lead to a hearing which could end with the dogs being killed, Walesky said. 

Animal Care and Control deals with about 2,200 animal bites a year, and such hearings are the final tribunals for the worst dog cases. As many as 15 times a year, a special magistrate decides the fate of animals in one of three classifications, each in ascending order of the animal’s menace: aggressive, dangerous, vicious.

In Tuesday’s attack, Walesky said, the history of both the dogs and the owner, as well as the severity of the injuries, will be the top issues.

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