Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, PhD, CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”


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Florida man mauled by pet monkey

Jimmy Schwall and his wife raised their pet monkey, a 9 y.o macaque named JayJay, from the age of three weeks, and treated him like he was beloved a family member.  JayJay was treated by Schwall and his wife as if JayJay was their child. JayJay was dressed  in children’s clothing and put in diapers, and was allowed to play with  children in the pool.  JayJay was also taken trick-or treating dressed in costume, and at Christmas JayJay wore santa clothing and he would open presence like a normal child.  According to the wife: “in all the time we had him, he never even so much knocked over a thing in the house.  He did not even pull down the Christmas tree.”

However, JayJay’s life came to a sudden end in Okeechobee, Florida, on August 24, 2012.  JayJay escaped from his enclosure, and Schwall attempted to capture him by throwing a net over JayJay.  JayJay managed to free himself from the net and attacked Schwall. A friend who was nearby stop the attack by killing JayJay with a gun.

Schwall was bitten on the buttocks and hand. He sustained nerve and tendon damage to his hand which required  about 200 stitches to close the wounds.  According to Schwall, JayJay’s assault was out of character and he reasoned that his monkey simply ‘flipped out’. In Florida, keeping an exotic pet only requires a license from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

JayJay was a macaque monkey. There are a variety of sub-species of macaques, one of the most common being the Rhesus macaque.  They stand about 3 foot and weigh about 30 pounds, and these kinds of monkeys are commonly found in some cities in India.  Monkey attacks on humans  in India do not happen frequently, however.

This attack raises memories of an incident in Connecticut in 2009 when a family chimpanzee brutally mauled a 48-year-old  Charlene Nash.  Nash required a full facial transplant as a result of her horrific facial injuries, and this well-publicized attack reignited widespread discussion about the risk of keeping non-domesticated animals as family pets.

Aggressive attacks on humans by animals other than dogs  is usually not mentioned on Dogexpert.com. However,  publication was warranted because of the rather unusual nature of the circumstances surrounding this animal attack case.  Hopefully, this post will bring to light  the inherent danger of keeping a non-domesticated animal as a family pet.  Animals like monkeys  should stay in their natural habitat, or perhaps in some circumstances in zoos, but never in a household with humans.