GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: A 22-year-old university student has vowed to keep working with animals despite her face almost being erased by two rescue dogs she was sitting for late last year.
Jacqueline Durand was taking care of a doctor’s dogs at their home in Dallas, Texas, just before Christmas when they viciously mauled her, ripped her clothes from her body and tore off her nose, ears, lips and cheeks.
The pets — a German Shepard mix named Lucy and a boxer and pitbull mix named Bender — had seemed “lovely” when she met them just a week prior, Ms Durand told CBS News.
But on December 23, a day before her birthday, the dogs pounced on the 22-year-old as soon as she opened the door to the house Dr Justin Bishop shares with his wife Ashley and their children.
“When I felt the skin hanging from my face, I thought I was going to die,” she said.
The dogs dragged her from the front door to the living room during the attack, which left her with 800 bite marks all over her bruised and battered body.
Ms Durand was unable to call police for help, but authorities were alerted when the front door — left open during the mauling — triggered an alarm.
Police footage shows the dogs barking aggressively as they run toward stunned officers, who worked for 37 minutes to contain Lucy and Bender so they could enter the home.
First responders “were only able to see Jacqueline Durand's legs and were not immediately aware of the extent of her injuries”, Coppell Police Department told CBS News.
Ms Durand can be heard faintly asking for help before a paramedic was able to run inside, pick her up and rush her from the home.
The student was barely alive after losing 30 per cent of her blood and spent seven hours in emergency surgery, during which she was resuscitated on the trauma table, her dad John Durand said.
She was placed in an induced coma and underwent several skin graft surgeries to rebuild her face before being released from hospital after 60 days.
When she returned home, she was greeted by more than a dozen clapping first responders and her boyfriend Nathan, 24.
Student vows to keep working with dogs
Ms Durand, who has been dog sitting for seven years, is now undergoing physical therapy to help stretch her mouth one millimetre at a time and has been told she will need further surgeries over the next three years.
Despite the horrific attack, the young woman says her dream is to be a dog trainer and raise awareness on how to prevent such incidents in the future.
“I want dog owners to know their animals and be able to communicate with their sitters how they are,” she told CBS News.
In January, the 22-year-old thanked everyone for their support in a Facebook post.
“I am so blessed to be surrounded by so much love and support as I go through this hard time in my life. Thank you everyone who is supporting and loving me every step of the way since the beginning!” she said.
“I am making good progress every single day that I’m here. Prayers are being answered! Thank you.”
Owner claims dogs had 'no history of violence'
The owner of the now-seized dogs, Dr Bishop, told police that the pets had been adopted from rescue groups and had “no history of violence”.
However, Ms Durand’s lawyer Chip Brooker, who has filed a lawsuit on her behalf seeking compensation, claims the physician and his wife knew the dogs had behavioural problems.
“An ominous sign on the Bishops’ front door shows that they actually knew or reasonably should have known of the dogs’ dangerous propensities,” he said in the lawsuit alongside a picture of the sign warning of “crazy dogs” inside.
Mr Brooker told CBS News: “The warning on the front door to me, I think, suggests that the Bishops knew that both of these dogs had acted aggressively to people arriving at the front door.”
The Bishops told the publication they were “heartbroken by the tragic incident involving Ms Durand”.
“We know that she was injured severely, and are devastated by what she and her family are going through. We would never knowingly put anyone in harm's way, and were shocked by what happened at our home,” the couple said in a statement.
“Due to pending litigation we have been advised not to give any interviews, however, we want Ms. Durand and her family to know that we fervently pray for her recovery daily.”
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