Highlight: Surviving a Pit Bull Attack
In late July of this year, I took a few days off to visit my parents in the Marietta neighborhood where I grew up. One Sunday afternoon, I was looking forward to my familiar, neighborhood jogging routine when all of a sudden I saw a loose and huge white Pit Bull running towards me. There was no fence – visible or invisible – between us as he was barreling straight for me.
This is not the dog that attacked me, but it is a friendlier-looking version of him
I didn’t run because I knew that would provoke him more, and he was way too fast to even try, so I just stood my ground. When he got closer, I could see that his ears were cropped, and I later found out that he had spent his earlier years in a dog-fighting kennel.
I was able to dodge his first lunge, and he lost his balance for a few seconds. But he righted himself and lunged a second time, hitting me full in the chest. When the weight of the dog hit and his teeth pierced my skin, the fact that I’m a veterinarian in training made no difference. I was as terrified as anyone else.
Fortunately, his owners saw everything, ran to me, and thrust themselves between me and the dog. If the owners weren’t there, it could have turned out WAY worse, but I truly feel so blessed that God protected me during that scary experience. The owners were horrified and they paid for everything. They paid for my visit to a nearby urgent care center and bought me a new phone, because my old one shattered during the attack. As parents of a one-year old child, they also made the painful decision to put the dog down, and the last I heard he was impounded. I was only at the urgent care center for a couple of hours just to clean up my minor injuries and check for any possible infection. So I am just fine, no worries 🙂 Now, 4 weeks later, I’m almost healed.
It’s funny how being in vet school has changed my perceptions of human medicine. The procedures used to clean my wound made me wish I was being treated by a veterinarian instead of a human doctor. Usually when an animal comes in with a bite wound, the veterinarian squirts a syringe of sterile saline solution into the lesion to clean it out thoroughly. Punctures are usually left open to allow drainage. The emergency doctor who worked on me did not clean my wound that way. She wiped the skin surface off, put it in a few stitches and covered it with a loose dressing. I was a little skeptical with her methods, but they must have been sufficient because I don’t have an infection. I’m grateful for that.
In the future, I will be carrying a pocket knife and pepper spray whenever I run, walk to my car, skip and whistle to my next class . . . I want to be protected at all times. Another friend who is a runner gave me a tip that is supposed to defuse a dog attack. If a dog is coming at you, try to run backwards while still facing it. This supposedly confuses the dog and causes it to stop. Weird, I know. And not tested by me (fortunately).
After hearing how traumatized I was by this experience, people have asked me if I think pit bulls should be kept as pets. The owners of the dog that mauled me did the best they could to rehabilitate an animal who had spent his first two years in a violent situation that rewards aggression. I don’t rule out pit bulls as being pets, but it can be very difficult to revive the gentle side of a dog who has survived such an environment. Just know that they are very territorial animals, that fences are a good thing, and that owners need to have fool-proof commands for stopping chases before they start. Right now, my feeling is that I will handle pit bulls in clinical situations only if they are muzzled. After what I experienced, I am not playing around with that breed.