'I thought I was going to die'

Zoe Greszler • Updated Jun 1, 2018 at 8:21 PM

Holly Mckenzie considered her family’s two pit bull dogs her “best friends,” having made memories over the past three years of walking them, playing with them, cuddling them and even sleeping in the same bed together. 

On Sunday though, Mckenzie said it was like a switch went off in the normally “cuddly, sweet” dogs. The Norwalk woman said one minute she was petting them and the next she was fighting for her life as they literally tried to rip her apart. 

“Please know before looking, these are graphic, disturbing and hard to look at,” she said in a Facebook post which displays photos of the aftermath of the attack showing deep, fresh gashes across her throat, face, arms, hand and leg. 

Mckenzie, a mother of two children aged 9 months and 2 years, told the Reflector she went to a family member’s house, rang the bell and walked in the house as she’d done “well over 100 times.” She said the dogs barked as they usually would and she began to pet them for a few minutes while her family went to the basement. She said the smaller of the two canines “nipped” at her several times, which she ignored, thinking the dog wanted to play, and tried to walk away.

“I didn’t get that chance to even move an inch to walk away,” Mckenzie said. 

“Before I knew it, after the little dog nipped me one (more) time, he looked at the bigger dog (who’s) well over 120 pounds. The bigger dog than looked at me, grabbed my arm full force and dragged me to the ground.

“The little one started biting the hell out of my arm and the bigger dog latched onto my throat as hard as he could. He (kept) attempting to bite deeper and lower in my neck.”

Mckenzie said she did the only thing she could think of — shoving her hand as far down the dog’s throat as she could. She said the dog released its bite, but immediately “went back and latched onto the left side of my face.”

While the smaller, 60-pound dog kept a firm bite on her left arm, Mckenzie said she again stuck her hand down the larger dog’s throat, who then moved from her face to her stomach and bit into her leg, before coming back to her hand. 

“He grabbed my hand (and) they both keep ripping and pulling until part of my bone ripped out of my hand,” Mckenzie said.

“I was screaming as loud as I could. My family members ripped the dogs off me. It took him several minutes for him to get them off my arm. My bone was completely ripped out of my arm. My neck, (face and lip) were ripped open. I was bleeding everywhere.”

Mckenzie said she ran outside as her family locked the dogs in the basement, “begging” her family to care for her children.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said.

Mckenzie was taken to a Toledo hospital trauma center. She said she will have her fifth surgery, “trying to save my hand.”

“I don’t even know if I’ll have my arm by the end of this week,” she said, adding that wounds have become “extremely infected” and the nerve and bone damage are extensive. 

“I’m in so much pain. They have me hooked up to (a machine) that sucks the blood and bone fragments out of my arm. They’re trying to get the swelling to go down.”  

She has more than 60 stitches in her chin, 14 in her temple, five on her leg and another 40 in her hand and arm. She said her “whole hand is broken” and will need multiple surgeries “just to have a functioning arm.”

She said the neck wound was six inches deep and required stitching in two layers under the muscle tissue. The bite was just four inches away from her jugular vein and two inches from puncturing through her mouth.

Mckenzie said she will require months of surgery and physical therapy to regain any use of her arm and hand.

“I’m in pain and in shock,” she said in a Facebook post after the attack. “I have had nightmares for the past two nights of being attacked.

“My best friends, whom were around me for years, turned on me today and I will never know why, but as of right now I need some prayers. ... I’m scared and right now I want this pain to go away.”

The dogs were seized by the Huron County Sheriff’s Office, and Mckenzie said her family paid to have the dogs euthanized.

Mckenzie said she was shocked by the events because of how close she was with the dogs before they suddenly “snapped.”

“These dogs knew me,” she said. “I came there every Saturday, every Sunday. I slept in the same bed as these dogs. I feed these dogs, went on walks with these dogs. (They) were nothing but babies and they just snapped.”

She said the pets’ previous owner “used to hit them and caged them up,” but said she and her family never did, adding they didn’t even have a cage for the animals.

“We never did any of that,” Mckenzie said. “That’s why it’s so hard for me to understand why they did what they did to me.”

Mckenzie said she posted her story on Facebook to raise awareness.

“This can happen to anyone, no matter how well you know your animal or animals,” she said. 

To help with the medical expenses, a GoFundMe account was set up for Mckenzie at https://www.gofundme.com/hollys-fundraiser. In the account she is asking to raise $100.

“I don’t usually ask for help like this,” she said.

“I really don’t want to now, but I’m at the hardest point of my life. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced and I just honestly will need the help ... recovering and as a single mom.  I set it low though. I don’t want to be selfish. If someone wants to donate more, they can. But I know what it’s like to struggle and I don’t want to be selfish. Anything I’d get will help.”

Recommended for You

    Norwalk Reflector Videos