The moment Cheryl Carver lifted the chain, she saw the danger in the dog’s eyes.
Salomon had been in her care a year-and-a-half. The day before, they’d driven around town, a happy outing.
On Feb. 5, however, as the light drained from the sky near Kilgore, the dog was bashing his head at the side of the crate where another of her dogs cowered. Hauling Sal off the screened porch, Cheryl pulled an iron grate in front of the hole he’d punched in the wire.
She hated to chain him up, and Salomon loathed it more – a dark remnant of his life before the Kilgore woman had started rehabilitating him.
“I was going to chain him back up, and he met me with teeth. He had a look in his eyes like I betrayed him,” Cheryl said Tuesday, “and he was determined I was going down.”
It’s been more than a week since the attack, and there’s months of healing ahead. She faces it with determination, equally insistent she won’t blame the dog after his jaws left her arms mangled, left her stitched, scarred, battered and bruised.
She blames the abuse Sal suffered before he ever came to her.
“I know that chain brought back bad memories,” she said, of years spent chained outside at his first owner’s home, of who knows what else the dog faced in the first seven, maybe eight years of his life.
According to Cheryl, Sal was a Mastiff, originally bought from a breeder.
That said, “It’s not about the breed, it’s about what’s been done to them before by humans,” she said. “I failed to remember this time that his trauma came from a chain … Any breed can do this.”
This was a raging attack, first on her right arm, then to her left. He wouldn’t stop.
In the midst of the attack, Cheryl called for help.
A neighbor realized her plight, then a nearby couple as well. The man and woman ran to her aid; he vaulted the fence despite the danger.
“They’re the heroes. Without them, I would have been dead,” she praised. “They jumped in there with me, and they could have had the same fate as me. They had no fear.”
Pepper spray finally drove the dog back as the couple pulled Cheryl to safety.
Emergency responders were dispatched to the scene at 6:19 p.m. and a medical helicopter was eventually called in. The victim was transported from Swanson Road to Tyler then on to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
“Her wounds were significant for a dog bite,” Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Josh Tubb confirmed.
Sal was ultimately captured and put in quarantine, Tubb noted, as his master underwent extensive surgery to repair her mutilated limbs – bites, lacerations and broken bones.
“I woke up with bandages on both arms,” the 29-year nursing veteran said, grateful for the care she received at home then at Parkland. “People are freaked out by the Frankenstein-quality” of the repairs, but she still has her arms thanks to “the tremendous skill and devotion of those doctors.”
Cheryl’s home now, facing at least two months of rehabilitation.
Sal was euthanized, at Carver’s request, following the temporary isolation.
“I’m sorry he had to be put down,” Cheryl lamented, “but he’s too dangerous for other people.”
With her limited insurance and extensive medical bills, family members have set-up a donation portal for Carver – access it via tinyurl.com/CarverRecovery.