Sunday, June 22, 2008

No Lapses in His Goodness, Part I

Tomorrow marks four years since the scariest day of my life. Most of you know part of this tale. Instead of rehashing all of it myself, I thought I'd just share some quotes from our lawyer, along with some pictures. (If you don't like yuck, don't scroll down~ I didn't put the really yucky stuff on here, of course). In the next few days, I'd like to share a few things I've learned from this "random act of violence" in my life. Here are the facts of the 'case.' Obviously, this was written right after the incident, hence the paranoid behavior described below ;o)

"On June 23, 2004, between 1:00 PM and 1:30 PM in the afternoon, Charity Brown, a 23-year-old female resident of Coaling, AL, opened the back door to her home and took her miniature dachshund puppy Chips out onto the back porch. The dog Chips was on a retractable leash and needed to go the bathroom. She was standing on the back porch steps of her home when, without warning, the defendant’s dogs came racing around the corner of the house. They didn’t seem to see her at first and went for the puppy. Instinctively, she yelled, “No!,” diverting the dogs’ attention. As soon as they became aware of her, they completely lost interest in the smaller dog. One of the dogs lunged at the front of her thick denim skirt. Shocked that they were actually trying to bite her, she turned on the steps to get back inside the house. That’s when the actual attack occurred. The dogs together pulled her, by the skirt, off the porch backwards where she fell facedown in the grass. Mrs. Brown then sustained multiple bites and evulsions in the lower legs, one in the buttocks, and a scratch across the back. She had instinctively curled her hands into fists and tucked them under to protect her face and neck. It is assumed that at some point one of the dogs made an attempt to get to her face, as her upper arm was badly scratched, either by nails or teeth. The plaintiff is not sure exactly how long the attack lasted, but it was surely no more than five minutes. She called for help initially, but no one came. It was a drizzly day, and no one was outside within hearing distance. The dogs began to fight over a piece of the skirt’s fabric they had ripped away, giving her the critical seconds to pull away from the distracted animals and walk the few feet to the back door of her home. As she was reentering her home, the dogs came after her again, and one began biting at her feet. The slides she was wearing came off, and one of the dogs latched onto her left foot and began trying to drag her back outside. She realized at this point that if they succeeded in getting her back on the ground, she would most likely die, as no one was there to pull the 60 lb. dogs off her again. In panic, she ripped her foot from the dog’s mouth and hurried to shut the door. Her puppy had rushed back inside, unscathed. Once inside, she could tell she had sustained serious wounds. She took the portable phone and headed for the bathroom to wrap the leg that was bleeding the most in a towel, calling 911 as she went. She then went back into the living room and sat in the floor to await help. Local volunteers arrived within minutes, then paramedics with the ambulance. She was transported to Northport Medical Center, where she spent 3-4 hours being cleaned and sewn up.

The physical injuries sustained by Mrs. Brown required 37 stitches. The description of the injuries is as follows: one bad scratch to the back of upper left arm, one bite/scratch to middle of back, one bite to lower right buttocks, (none of which required stitching although they were bleeding); one bite behind left knee, three deep bites on left calf (evulsions, with tissue hanging out), one bite to back of right knee, a bad scrape to front of left knee (possibly from being dragged across porch steps), and injuries to the left foot. The left foot was sliced horizontally below the little toe, and vertically between the little toe and the one next to it. The wound went between the toes, up the side of the second and around the back. There was very little skin left on this part of the foot and the bone was exposed. The physician who sewed it up had to work particularly hard to pull together what ripped remnants he could to reconstruct the second toe. 15 of the 37 stitches were used to put the toe back together. X-rays were done, but thankfully, no bones seemed to be broken. Each of the injuries described above left scarring, with the toe, back of right knee, back and front of left knee becoming keloid scars. There was a small puncture on the sole of the left foot, which left no scar. There was also serious bruising, as may be imagined, which faded with time.

The treatment itself caused physical problems. The strong antibiotics she was placed on stripped her intestinal tract of healthy bacteria, causing four weeks of intestinal upset... She also developed [various infections], requiring medication. Darvoset (sp?) made her ill, and she had to take another pain medication instead.

Healing was extremely painful. For the weeks she was on bedrest, anytime she lowered her legs to the floor caused excruciating pain as the blood rushed into the injured areas. Standing was impossible for some time.

The emotional injuries sustained by Mrs. Brown are much more permanent. Having grown up with very large dogs (i.e. German shepherds, etc.), she never was afraid of dogs, and truly enjoyed being around any and all types of dogs. Friends had Rottweilers, bulldogs, Labs, beagles, collies and she enjoyed them all. She often went door to door canvassing with church groups, encountering strange dogs without fear. However, her perception of dogs has permanently changed. She describes taking her dog to the veterinarian’s office as “sitting in a room full of loaded weapons.” She sees each and every dog as a potential threat, and avoids all contact with them if possible. For several months following the attack, she never went outside without a container of mace. Even now, a simple trip to the mailbox is approached with wary caution. Her worst fear is that a dog will sense her fear, making her more prone to fall victim to another attack in the future. She is afraid that her fear of dogs will be sensed by her child, making her a possible victim to such an attack. She feels cheated out of enjoying an animal she has always truly loved. Knowing that 99% of dogs would never attack a person in that way does not ease the fear. She has had many nightmares about the incident, where the feeling of hopelessness and imminent pain and death are the main themes."


Tara said...

I remember getting the call that this had happened like it was just yesterday. Joyce was pretty freaked out, and her description of your condition scared me to death! Four years already? Unbelievable. I know this is a trauma that will stay with you. You and Nate have had some pretty huge traumatic events to deal with in your "short" married life.

I'm glad that at least this is one that's behind you.

Neugier said...

Oh My Charity! I am so sorry you experienced this and thankful you are well. I remember when my sister Angela was attack by our Dobermin...

I enjoy reading your blog from time to time and wanted to say, "hello!" You have a very beautiful family!

Amy Palmer

Erin said...

WOW! I remember hearing about his incident. Were the dogs destroyed? We are just glad you are here and all in one piece!

Liz said...

Okay - so what happened to the dogs??? That was horrific! I'm sorry you had to go through that!

Mary Ellen said...

I too remember hearing about this as a prayer request I believe in church right after it happened - it sounded horrific back then.

Seeing the pictures and reading the description (even after your telling me about it this past spring at the beach) really made me realize just how horrible it was. I can't even imagine!

As much as I love little dogs I've always been a little nervous around big ones (I was terrified of all dogs as a child and hadn't even had any reason to be) and this story will make me even more leary/cautious.

I've already taught our older two, and will do the same for the next two, to always ask someone if it is OK before they approach a strange dog...I will definitely keep reinforcing that one!

Holly Walker said...

Wow! I never realized just how many injuries you stustained from the attack! I promise to crate my dogs if you come Friday night! :-)

Angela said...

I am so sorry you had to experience something so traumatic, I can't even begin to imagine the fear this has placed in you. Prayers for you and your family as you heal emotionally.