VIDEO: Family who lost son to dog bite wants to build playground in his honor

Marco Island grandparents unite with City of Cape Coral, Cape Coral Rotary in memory of 2-year-old Cape child killed by family dog

Liam Perk died after being bitten by the family dog

Liam Perk died after being bitten by the family dog

Video from NBC-2

A freak accident took the life of Marco Island grandparent Sharon Perk’s 2-year-old grandson.

Now, the retiree hopes to see the boy’s memory preserved in a playground bearing his name.

Toddler Liam Perk died on Dec. 22, 2009, after the family dog bit him on the neck, apparently startled when the child ran by him at his parents’ Cape Coral home. The bite cut an artery, causing Liam to bleed heavily.

The dog, an 8-year-old weimaraner named Lloyd, had never shown signs of aggression, Perk said. Liam’s parents had it put down, and Cape Coral investigators closed the case without issue. The family has struggled during the following two months.

“It’s been excruciating for all of us,” said Perk, 64.

The Perks, long-time Marco Island vacationers, made a permanent move to the Island in 1988. They took care of Liam one day of the week, every week, in Cape Coral, and the boy often visited them at their home. He was inquisitive and talkative, Perk recalled, and he loved watching for helicopters in the sky from his grandparents’ lanai. He enjoyed playing with blocks and his vocabulary was growing.

“He was just a sweet little boy,” she said. “He wasn’t alive enough to be naughty.”

In January, Liam’s parents decided a playground would make an apt memorial for their son. Carrie Perk, Liam’s mother, works for Playmore Recreational Products & Services, a distributor of playgrounds to local municipalities. With husband Joseph Perk and the help of several community members, they founded the Liam J. Perk Foundation, a nonprofit that operates under the larger Cape Coral Community Foundation.

The foundation contacted the Cape Coral Rotary Club, which oversees play equipment at Rotary Park, a 137-acre wetland property with nature trails and a boardwalk that Joseph Perk and his son used to walk. The park also holds the only public space dog park in Cape Coral, Waggin Tails Dog Park. Joseph Perk said the location was appropriate.

“Our family are dog lovers, and it’s just kind of tragic what happened,” he said.

Carrie Perk designed the playground with reminders of her son. Brown, the color of Liam’s eyes, is prevalent, the family wrote in a press release.

The Rotary Club, which had already purchased a playground set for the park but had to yet to install it, scrapped its plans in order to support the foundation and install the future playground. The city, in turn, agreed to take the club’s playground set and is currently looking for a spot to place it, said Steve Pohlman, director for Parks and Recreation for Cape Coral.

One possible location is a school that had its wooden playground removed due its weathering.

“We did not have the resources to replace that playground,” Pohlman said.

Joseph Perk said his son’s playground could cost upwards of $230,000. The foundation currently has about $20,000, he said.

Sharon Perk said she and her husband will do what they can to support fundraising. As it is, she’s happy her son and daughter-in-law have something to keep them occupied.

“My husband and I have been out there to walk around it already, and it’s a very beautiful part of Cape Coral,” she said.

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Comments » 4

2lacy writes:

"A freak accident took the life of Marco Island grandparent Sharon Perk’s 2-year-old grandson." Not true! This was a death that was totally preventable if only the parents had demonstrated good sense and kept the dog outside where it belonged! However, as long as the dog freaks (i.e., people who value dogs above everything else on earth) have their way, we will continue to read about such tragedies. There are websites such as KC DOG BLOG (maintained by a man who knows less about dogs than my neighbor's parakeet) which advices people it is okay to have dogs (even pit bulls) around small children and infants as long as they have been taught "mouthing inhibition," something any dog trainer worth his salt will tell you is a myth dreamed up by people who know nothing about dogs.

And as for the parents of Liam Perk needing "something to keep them occupied," perhaps they should "occupy" themselves with protecting their infant daughter, and a good start would be to get rid of the Weimaraner still in the home (the mate to the killer dog). Keeping this dog in the home with a small child is just another "accident" waiting to happen!

Trainer1 writes:

2lacy - I've seen that website and your assessment of the owner is accurate!

I know you would be getting into the free speech area by trying to shut down websites like those that tell people dogs won't hurt kids, but there must be some way to hold them accountable for spreding false information, especially when that false information leads to the death of a child.

You're right, mouthing inhibition is a joke. I trained dogs in the military and I've also trained dogs for myself and friends and the fact is that dogs should never, ever use their mouth on anyone. When a dog uses it's mouth on a human, whether playing or not, it's a sign that the dog hasn't been taught to respect humans. I know that people like those on the website that you named want everyone to think that the same rules that apply to humans apply to dogs, but that don't. Dogs live by what is called the "pack mentality," where there is an Alpha dog, and superior and inferior animals. A dog in a pack would never bite, or even so much as touch a superior dog unless the touching was initiated by the superior animal.

If humans kept dogs in their place and instilled in them that they were inferior, not equal to or superior to family members, we wouldn't be reading about all these dog attack deaths and injuries.

I don't know the Perk family, but if they do have an infant child in the house and the same kind of dog, with the same lack of training, they are taking a chance that I wouldn't take.

GreatnessInHope writes:

Thank goodness for the constitution. It allows us all to write what we wish. I am more than positive that you have done great things for your family, for your community and to better mankind. I expect that you have never experienced great loss and hope you never have to. I am certain that you did not read all the information regarding this story, in other words the whole story. I am hopeful that you are able to choose and control whatever noble choice, accident or reason that takes you from this planet. May you rest in peace when it does. Until then and for whatever reason, contribute something to society, to others happiness and well being and truly be a part of making the world a better place.

Humans and dogs have been living together for 12,000 years. There not going away anytime soon. What's wrong with promoting ways that people and dogs can live together safely? Please choose the appropriate venue to promote an agenda. Get your own blog site or something.

Florida77 writes:

in response to GreatnessInHope:

Thank goodness for the constitution. It allows us all to write what we wish. I am more than positive that you have done great things for your family, for your community and to better mankind. I expect that you have never experienced great loss and hope you never have to. I am certain that you did not read all the information regarding this story, in other words the whole story. I am hopeful that you are able to choose and control whatever noble choice, accident or reason that takes you from this planet. May you rest in peace when it does. Until then and for whatever reason, contribute something to society, to others happiness and well being and truly be a part of making the world a better place.

Humans and dogs have been living together for 12,000 years. There not going away anytime soon. What's wrong with promoting ways that people and dogs can live together safely? Please choose the appropriate venue to promote an agenda. Get your own blog site or something.

What is your problem, GreatnessinDope? Everything the other two commenters said is true. The website they are talking about is irresponsible and should be held accountable for the garbage it distributes. Just about every comment I've read about the Perk family has been critical. A family that has already lost one child to a dog would have to be insane to have another dog of the same breed in a home with an infant. There is something badly wrong with these people--and with you--if you can't see that. And BTW, I have suffered losses equal to any you have suffered and, more than likely, so have the other two commenters.

There is nothing sacred about the relationship between people and dogs and they have NOT been living together for 12,000 years. The present "dog craze" didn't start until the mid-20th century AFTER the advent and widespread use of the rabies vaccination--which demonstrates the relationship between humans and dogs is totally dependent on artificial intervention. If there were a nuclear holocaust or natural disaster of international proportions and people were no longer able to obtain, or afford, rabies vaccinations for their mutts, the current love affair with the dog would end!

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