Dog Attack Details Ready or Not
Here are many of the dog attack details, ready or not. Almost exactly 7 months ago 2 big dogs running loose in our rural mountain neighborhood attacked me and Mr. Stix. It happened the day before Thanksgiving 2021. The ongoing physical, emotional, and legal fallout from the trauma of the attempted murder of my youngest dog consumes a lot of time and energy and tanked my income. I still suffer from PTSD from the attack. I still experience physical pain from my injuries. Specific therapy for the PTSD resulted in a "cardiac event" in late March. I need to decide if I will resume that work or not — now that doctors have assessed the data from a heart monitor I wore for a while and now that I've been on a medication for 2 months to help with the anxiety and depression. Maybe I'm not ready to write about what happened, but since I wrote statements for animal control, prosecutors, and the judge, I can at least share some of that. Fair warning. It's pretty brutal.
I'm going to redact a few location details, but below is what I provided to animal control after signing various legal paperwork needed for charges to be filed and prosecution to proceed.
Official Victim's Statement About the Dog Attack Details
While walking my youngest dog, Mr. Stix, on our almost-daily, neighborhood route on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021, between about 9:30 and 10:00 AM, we turned the corner from westbound ------ Road going up the southbound hill of -------- Drive. That’s when two large husky/malamute-type dogs sprinted toward us — from where ------ Road continues west — and attacked Mr. Stix and me from behind without warning or provocation.
The bigger of the two dogs (the black/grey/white one) went straight for Mr. Stix’s neck — biting and shaking him violently. The other dog (the blond one) attacked from the rear and latched onto his hind end, also shaking him violently and tugging hard in the opposite direction as the bigger dog. The two dogs coordinated their attack with the apparent intent to rip Mr. Stix in half. They concentrated their bites on me to my hands and arms. Scratches to my sunglasses and a nosebleed indicate blows to my face as well.
The two dogs did not bark, growl, or give any warning of their approach. They remained mostly silent before, during, and after the sustained attack. The attack lasted several minutes with both dogs repeatedly biting, shaking, and yanking at Mr. Stix and me until neighbors heard my screams and raced to help us.
Help from neighbors is the only reason the two dogs didn’t kill Mr. Stix. Each dog outweighed him. I estimate the dogs’ combined weight as greater than my own. We were no match for their strength and aggression.
Our winter clothes prevented more severe punctures and lacerations. That’s absolutely the only reason we’re not full of deeper bite wounds. However, that does not mitigate the severity of the attack and extreme threat to us in the moment. Nothing negates the fact that both of us suffered physical injuries and required medical treatment (detailed elsewhere). One severe bite caused an avulsion fracture to my right thumb.
My protective instincts kicked in and focused only on preventing:
- The larger dog from breaking Mr. Stix’s neck or tearing open his throat
- The other dog from breaking Mr. Stix’s hips or rear legs (already compromised from multiple fractures suffered prior to his rescue in late 2018)
- Both dogs from ripping him from my grasp and running off with him
To this terrible attack I bring 25+ years of experience writing professionally about veterinary medicine and dog topics, including dog behavior and training. I also train my dogs in sports like agility and scent work and take online courses. Through my work and connections with some of the top dog trainers and behaviorists in the world, I understand the difference between reactive dogs, dogs who behave aggressively in defensive or fear-based ways, and dogs exhibiting true aggression.
In my opinion:
- This sustained, unprovoked, and relentless attack by the two dogs came 100% from offensive aggression.
- Such severe, pathological aggression cannot be corrected through training or behavior modification.
- These two dogs present a danger to other dogs and people now and will remain a danger throughout their lives.
The attack caused extreme emotional trauma for Mr. Stix, me, and the neighbors who came to our aid. The look of terror on Mr. Stix’s face and the sounds of his screams during the attack seared into my memory, triggering ongoing post-traumatic stress requiring treatment.
[end of official victim statement]
Dog Attack Details - Wounds to Mr. Stix
3 yo, American Foxhound + Border Collie mix, about 40 pounds
Honestly, I kept finding more and more injuries to Mr. Stix over many days, but it caused me such fury to discover new injuries that I stopped documenting them.
For future reference, it's easier to find scabs than the fresh wounds the day of the dog attack. He hurt so much afterwards, even with pain meds, that he didn't want us touching him much anyway, but here is a list of some of the dog attack wounds he suffered:
- Bite wound to inner right ear
- Bite wound / abrasion to top of right hind paw
- Bite wound inner left thigh
- 2 bite wounds inner left groin area
- Bite Wound / scab back of neck
- Bite Wound / scab left hip (photo next page)
- Bite wound / left-under tail
The ER veterinarian who saw him within hours of the dog attack cleaned and treated the bigger injuries and bite wounds.
Thankfully, it was cold, and we both had on winter clothes. If this had happened in the summer with bare arms and legs, the dog attack wounds would have been much worse.
Dog Attack Details - Injuries to Me and Their Impact
This next part explains the some of the dog attack details about my injuries and is from a victim impact statement I provided to the prosecutor and judge. The full statement is much longer and includes details about the defendant's behavior upon learning about the attack that I may or may not share at some point.
Since people often ask, I will simply add that the defendant has NEVER said a single word to me about the dog attack.
My physical and emotional injuries include ...
Avulsion fracture to the base of my right thumb (dominant hand)
An avulsion fracture means bone got ripped away from bone in a tearing motion, which provides physical evidence of the severity of the attack. My doctor told me from the get-go that injury to this particular bone and related joint is more likely than other types of injuries to result in chronic pain if not properly healed.
- Requires approximately 30 minutes of daily physical therapy at home
- May require additional physical therapy appointments and consultations
- May require consultation with an orthopedic specialist/surgeon
- Ongoing pain
- Loss of strength
- Infringement on my ability to work and take online classes because it’s painful to type and use the trackball mouse
- Difficulty with common tasks because it hurts to grasp items such as for food preparation, house cleaning and maintenance, dog grooming, etc.
- Infringement on hobbies for wellness / stress relief, including knitting, gardening, and art projects
Strained Vocal Cords from Screaming for Help
- Forced me to cancel or postpone work meetings and projects for several weeks because it hurt to speak
Emotional Trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Requires frequent / ongoing counseling (EMDR therapy for PTSD)
- Lowered ability to concentrate on work (with associated drop in income)
- Dog attack playing on a loop in my head during the day, including Mr. Stix and I both screaming as a constant soundtrack
- Panic attacks (both me and Mr. Stix) – heart racing, trouble breathing, body shaking in response to various triggers, including certain sounds and movements since the dogs attacked from behind without warning or provocation
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble eating
- Nightmares (almost nightly)
- Frequent sore throat from nightmares of screaming, which again forces limits on personal and work conversations
- Frequent facial twitching (left eye, bridge of nose, right side of lips) which is a byproduct of the emotional trauma and potentially from blows to my face during the attack
- Frequent headaches from constant tension
- Frequent dizziness
The attack and its aftermath constantly loom over me. My out-of-pocket financial costs represent only a fraction of the full costs and real damage. The entire experience takes countless hours away from my work and family responsibilities.
I cry every day — at least once, but often more — due to traumatic memories of the attack itself as well as from the exhaustion and frustration of dealing with its repercussions. Healing from the attack feels like a full-time job. Yet, it’s hard to truly heal when the threat lives just 1/3 of a mile up the road from my home, according to Google Maps.
I live in fear of another violent attack by these dogs. I no longer feel safe to walk my dogs in my own neighborhood.
For 20+ years, I have walked the same route up the road with 2 generations of dogs. My dogs and I are fixtures in our community. For several months after one of our prior dogs died in late 2013, many neighbors stopped when they saw me walking alone to ask about her and offer their condolences.
I continued the tradition of exercise, enrichment, and bonding with our current 3 dogs. Most days, I walk each dog separately, which takes at least 90 minutes total, depending on how far I go. These walks up the hill and back provide exercise critical to our physical and emotional health. Without them, the damage to my wellness continues and serves as a constant reminder of the violent attack.
These dangerous dogs took away my freedom to walk my dogs and enjoy our mountain community, including sometimes connecting with neighbors. These dogs destroyed one of the best parts of my day.
I have not walked my dogs on the road or done any other dog training (which is a major part of my personal and professional life) in the neighborhood since the attack. I fear the dogs will again be marauding around without any human supervision like they were on the day of the attack. I even look for them on the road before opening our front gate to check the mailbox.
While these dangerous dogs live unfettered, my dogs and I remain stuck at home. It’s like being under house arrest.
Instead of taking typical walks, I’m relegated to unsatisfying walks on our fully fenced property — either doing laps on a track my husband built for me through our pastures after the attack or up/down our driveway. It’s better than nothing, but it absolutely is not equal to walking freely and safely on our longstanding route.
If I took each of my 3 dogs on solo walks as usual, I would have to pass the location of the attack and near where the aggressive dogs live 6 times. As long as these dogs reside without restrictions in my neighborhood, I simply cannot risk crossing paths with them again.
Dog Attack Details - Legal Crap
At some point, I'll write more about the legal process we went through. For now, simply know that the defendant did take the plea deal prosecutors offered on April 20, 2022. So we got a guilty plea on 1 charge in exchange for dropping another one. The judge ordered:
- ~$100 fine (a pittance ... insert eyeroll)
- Restitution to me for physical injuries and damaged property (about $1325, but so far I've not received any money )
Notice, however, that the judge placed zero sanctions on the dogs themselves even though I provided documentation about how the attack included hallmarks of level-4 bites on all three canine aggression bite scales used by veterinary behaviorists and dog aggression experts around the world. Those hallmarks include things like repeated biting and shaking.
BUT, I did succeed in setting a legal precedent so if/when these dogs attack again — and I believe they will — it might be taken more seriously.