Friday, December 19, 2008

Woman mauled by dog ~NOT A PIT BULL~

GOOSE CREEK — While healing from wounds suffered in Iraq, veteran combat photographer Stacy Pearsall looked forward to her first attempts at running in her neighborhood.

Her anticipation turned to terror Thursday when a neighbor's dog attacked her in the pre-dawn darkness.

Pearsall was enjoying music on an iPod when she began her run around Brick Hope Plantation. Suddenly, a snarling dog lunged at her. "I didn't see him coming," she said. "I think he was going for my throat, but he got my chest instead."

A neighbor who heard her screams came outside to help, but Pearsall yelled at him to stay back. The dog, which weighed more than 100 pounds, knocked her to her knees. She held up her arms to protect her face and head. The dog bit her repeatedly on her left forearm.

The owner, who also heard Pearsall's screams, collared the animal, put it in her car and called police. The dog was euthanized Thursday, Goose Creek police said.

Pearsall's husband, Andy Dunaway, said the situation could have been much worse if the dog had been loose when children were outside before school. The attack happened about 5:30 a.m. Dunaway said he thought the dog was a chow mix. Pearsall said the dog had a white fluffy coat and a curled tail.

Pearsall, of 170 Mayfield Drive, was treated and released at Trident Medical Center. After the wounds were cleaned, she received a stitch in her chest and a stitch in her left forearm. She said doctors told her they don't like to close dog bite wounds because they tend to get infected. The dog was up to date on its rabies vaccination, she said.

Latoya Combs, 33, of 178 Mayfield Drive surrendered the dog, which was euthanized by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said Casey Hoskins, public information officer for the city of Goose Creek.

Combs told police the dog got loose the night before and ran into woods behind her backyard. She had tried to find the dog but was unsuccessful, police said. She told police she no longer wanted the dog.

Combs will not be charged, Hoskins said.

Combs did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Pearsall, 28, said she hated that the dog had to be euthanized. "I'm a real dog fan," she said.

Pearsall was recovering from head and neck injuries she suffered in Iraq in 2003 and 2007. She was struck by improvised explosive devices both times. She retired from the Air Force for medical reasons and was trying some jogging on the advice of her doctor.

She received the Bronze Star for her actions helping to recover wounded soldiers during an attack in Iraq. She was twice named Military Combat Photographer of the Year. Her work has appeared in Time magazine, The New York Times, Popular Photography, Newsweek and on PBS and CNN.

She plans an exhibit on Jan. 23 at the Halsey Gallery in Charleston.

She is director of the Charleston Center for Photography.

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