Reprinted from The Alexandria Journal
By Kierstan Gordon, The Alexandria Journal
More than a year after a rottweiler attacked a 4 year old Mantua girl, a Fairfax County jury has awarded the girl’s family $95,000.
Maria Cerqueira, who lived next door to the victim, did not know that Kaiser, her full grown rottweiler, could be vicious, according to her attorney, Michael Zimmerman. He said Cerqueira had never known her dog to attack anyone.
But Zimmerman said Cerqueira has decided not to appeal the verdict.
“She is just relieved that it’s over with,” he said about the four day trial.
In April 1994, Tiffany Pak and her mother, Tae Pak, were in their yard when the dog attacked the child.
Tae Pak was able to fend off the rottweiler with a garden rake but not before the dog had bitten her daughter more than 200 times, according to Beau Brincefield, the Pak family attorney. More than 300 stitches were required to close the child’s wounds.
The dog was taken into custody by county animal wardens and killed with the owner’s consent. At the time of the attack, Cerqueira was in Florida and, she said, had someone check on the dog and bring it food and water.
No criminal charges were filed.
“The Rottweiler is a special breed of dog,” Brincefield said in an interview. “When it is left alone for long periods of time … it reverts back to its predatorial instincts.”
Fairfax County laws require dog owners to keep their pets restrained or on a leash.
Zimmerman said his client had a fence around her yard and did not realize the dog could scale it.
“It hasn’t been proven how the dog got out,” he said. “We don’t know why the dog attacked.”
Brincefield said the girl has permanent scars and is still frightened of dogs.