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Texas student whose face was ripped off by two rescue dogs reveals injuries: ‘It’s time to show who I am now’

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Jacqueline Durand interviewed by CBS News (CBS News)

A dog handler who had most of her face ripped off by two rescue dogs decided to reveal her injuries to the world in an attempt to move forward without fear.

Jacqueline Durand, 22, of Dallas, Texas, had to be placed in a medical coma, resuscitated several times and underwent major reconstructive surgery after being mauled by dogs she was asked to care for just before Christmas last year.

The two dogs had been “charming” to her before, but immediately attacked her when she opened the door, dragging her into the living room and ripping off her nose, ears, lips and cheeks. The incident occurred just one day before her 22nd birthday.

Now, Ms. Durand has come forward to speak about her ordeal and show its impact on her body to help dog owners and handlers understand the dangers. Some readers may find the images difficult to view.

“I didn’t ask for this so I think it’s time to show who I am now and I can’t be afraid of that,” Ms Durand said in an interview with CBS News which aired on Wednesday.

“I want dog owners to know their animals and be able to communicate with their handlers about how they are doing.”

Jacqueline Durand, 22, is pictured before two rescue dogs ripped off most of her face last year (CBS News)

Jacqueline Durand, 22, is pictured before two rescue dogs ripped off most of her face last year (CBS News)

‘I thought I was going to die’

Ms. Durand, a student at the University of Texas at Dallas, had seven years of dog-sitting experience when Justin and Ashley Bishop asked her to take care of their two rescue dogs, Bender, a boxer-pit bull mix, and Lucy, a German Shepherd Mix

In an Instagram Live broadcast on Wednesday, she said the bishops initially promised the animals would be restrained when she arrived, but then texted her that day to say they were loose in the house.

With other dogs, Ms. Durand said, there was never any change in their behavior between their first “meet and greet” and the first time they visited her home. She said CBS she was “speechless” about Bender and Lucy’s sudden change.

Describing where she was attacked, she said: “My legs, my arms, my face more. Essentially, when I felt skin hanging off my face, I thought I was going to die.”

Mrs. Durand was saved by an automatic alarm that went off after the attack left the front door still open. However, when the police arrived, it took 37 minutes for the aggressive dogs to get past and Ms. Durand lost about 30 percent of her blood.

In a police video shown by CBSBishops told officers they had “zero” problems with dogs prior to that time and had “no history of violence. None.” He pointed out that there were already three children in the house, including a three-year-old boy.

However, Ms Durand is suing the family for negligence, and her lawyer pointed to a sign allegedly hanging on her door that read: “Mad dogs. Please do not knock or ring the bell.”

The attorney, Chip Booker, said CBS: “The dogs were dangerous and had vicious propensities. We suspect that the bishops knew this. We suspect that everyone who came across these dogs, particularly Lucy, knew this.”

Jacqueline Durand after reconstructive surgery, though still early in her recovery (CBS News)

Jacqueline Durand after reconstructive surgery, though still early in her recovery (CBS News)

The bishops are contesting that claim. In a statement, they said: “We are heartbroken by the tragic incident involving Ms. Durand.

“We know she was seriously injured and we are devastated by what she and her family are going through. We would never knowingly put anyone in harm’s way and we were shocked by what happened in our home.”

“Due to pending litigation, we have been advised not to grant any interviews. However, we want Ms. Durand and her family to know that we are praying fervently for her recovery every day.”

Both dogs have now been killed on a judge’s order. Ms. Durand says she is still waiting for an apology from the bishops and that she was never fully paid for her dog-sitting job.

His partner Nathan is at his side.

Ms. Durand arrived at the hospital with more than 800 bite marks on her body and required weeks of care and surgery. Doctors took skin grafts from her buttocks and her forehead to reconstruct her face.

When she left the hospital, she was applauded by doctors and nurses, and came home to another cheer from first responders and her boyfriend of three years, 24-year-old Nathan.

On her Instagram live stream, Ms Durand said: “I was skeptical if he was going to stay with me. I asked him directly, ‘Do you still want to be with me? I’ve changed forever,’ and he said ‘I wouldn’t want to be in no other place.'”

Before the attack, Mrs. Durand had helped Nathan recover from cancer. “I am very grateful to have the opportunity to show the same level of love and care that she showed me during that time,” she told CBS.

Ms. Durand still wants to work with dogs, and perhaps become a dog trainer, though she may not be able to get close to German shepherds and pit bulls again because seeing them still triggers flashbacks.

Although she still has one to three years of surgery ahead of her, she said the prognosis is good for her face to grow back completely, meaning it’s unlikely she’ll need a face transplant.

Of her progress, she said, “It really lifts my spirits compared to where I was. Because I felt so helpless in the hospital. Being at home, I knew I was going to heal more here than in the hospital.”

“It’s not fun to think about [future surgeries], but I also think about how amazing the doctors are. So I’m putting it in their hands to help me.”

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