Friday, May 24, 2013

CORONA: Girl and her dog recuperating after mauling by pit bull dog

CORONA: Girl and her dog recuperating after mauling

Press Enterprise
May 12, 2013

Two days after she and her dog were mauled by a pit bull, 15-year-old Alex Cuevas is recuperating from having her right ear surgically reattached — but is haunted by the violence.

“I relive that moment in my head: Seeing my own blood hit the pavement when the (pit bull) was attacking,” said the 15-year-old Corona high school sophomore. “I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to do.

“I was just cowering and screaming. I just laid in a ball (on the sidewalk) with my dog.”

Alex spoke while holding Cocoa the 14-month-old Shih Tzu on her lap. The tiny dog’s neck was ringed by a plastic cone to prevent her from scratching her stitched and swollen left eye that veterinarians had to reinsert into the eye socket.

“I’m just grateful that it wasn’t worse than what it was,” said Alex’s mom, Tammy Cuevas.

Specifically, she’s thankful that her daughter survived and that a neighbor saved Alex, reportedly by hitting the pit bull in the head with a shovel.

VIDEO: Corona teen describes terrifying pit bull attack

But she, too, can’t forget the flurry of shocking phone calls that began at 4:18 p.m. Friday, May 10.

Her daughter had been badly hurt while walking Cocoa on a leash at Morales Way and Honors Lane, just two blocks from the family’s home in south Corona.

When Alex’s parents arrived, they saw a crowd of neighbors, an ambulance crew, firefighters and their daughter — bleeding from the ear, head and neck.

“She had blood everywhere,” Alex’s mother recalls. “Her hair was soaked.”

The pit bull attacked after escaping from its owner’s backyard, police said. Alex said she saw the dog coming and tried to back out of the way, but it attacked Cocoa.

Alex tried to rescue her battered and bloody dog by picking up Cocoa and clutching her to her chest. The pit bull knocked her down and started biting at the side of her face.

“I was screaming and it just kept biting repetitively at my face, and I saw the neighbor swing something, and he was hollering and trying to get the dog away,” she said. “And I don’t remember anything much after that.”

She thinks she blacked out, but she does recall people surrounding her trying to help, and screaming for her mom.

“I wasn’t sure if my ear was all the way off completely or what; I couldn’t tell,” Alex said. “I couldn’t hear out of that ear, it was filled with blood … It was really terrifying.”

Animal control officers have quarantined the pit bull, which authorities say was unlicensed. The owner also did not have proof of vaccination, officials have said.

No one has been ticketed because the investigation is not complete.

The Cuevases say they are speaking out about the incident because they want to raise public awareness, and they hope that ways can be found to prevent such incidents.

If swimming pools can be made safer by surrounding them with fences and self-closing gates, why can’t the same be required around backyards that contain pit bulls, Alex wonders.

The Cuevases don’t claim to be experts on the subject. But saddled with hundreds of dollars in vet bills, terrifying memories of the attack, and the knowledge that many other people have been mauled, they say it’s time to find and implement solutions.

“They need to get it under control,” said Alex’s mom. “How do I know something (like this) isn’t going to happen again?”

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