My name is Julia and on August 7, 2017 at 10:32 a.m. my life totally changed.
To tell you my story I must give you a little bit of my background story. I am a police officer for a city in North Carolina. Like many officers, I don’t get paid much. That led me to working overtime and off duty. I was working my life away. I’ve always loved fitness – I worked out often, I ate healthy and I was always cognizant of my family history in regards to health. Slowly all the overtime and off duty got the best of me. Without regards to my health I continued to work my life away to make money – I was working almost every day.
With poor sleep, eating habits and lack of exercise, my health was constantly declining. I was depressed and had no hope. Then when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.
On August 7, 2017 I was working and had a trainee with me. I decided that we needed to serve warrants in the morning, give him time to do paperwork then conduct several traffic stops. I was driving my patrol vehicle to the residence where we would attempt to serve the second warrant of the day.
On the way there I stopped the car, hit the steering wheel and said “BANG! I just got shot on the head! Where are we?” My trainee looked at me and had no idea where we were. I told him to get out of the car, run to the nearest intersection and tell me where we were. When he got back in the vehicle he told me our exact location. I then said “If I ever get hurt on the job, you better know where we are!”
I proceed to drive approximately one mile down the road to the residence where we would attempt to serve our second warrant of the day. We pulled up and walked up to a silver Mustang. The trainee then walked toward the front door. On his way to the door he walked past a brown and white Pit Bull that was chained to a tree. I followed him but on my way to the door I heard a noise coming from the side of the house. I stopped and looked to the side. The trainee then knocked on the door. I looked at him and heard a noise again. I looked to my right and as soon as I looked to my right I heard a loud bark. I looked to the direction of the bark and I saw a big brown dog’s face near my face. I felt the dog’s breath on my neck. I jumped back and pushed the big brown face away from my neck. That movement alone saved my life.
I fell on the ground, I was terrified. I remember seeing a lot of blood. I stood up fast and continued to see blood. I looked at my right hand to find out my thumb was missing. There was a lot of blood and a bone sticking out. My first instinct was to do what I’ve been trained to do…to take care of a wound. I grabbed my thumb and squeezed it as hard as I could. I walked toward the road to lay in the middle of the road where I felt safe from that vicious dog. I know that sounds like it went by fast (and it did – literally seconds) but it was the longest 20ish seconds of my life.
Long story short, August 7th was the longest day of my life. After an unsuccessful surgery to reattach my thumb, I’ve had countless hours of rehabilitation sessions, moments of fear, tears that I cried, sleepless nights, etc. For the longest time I hated the way I looked, my struggles, my inability to fit in. Everyday tasks that were simple before become enormously difficult when your limb loss affects 40% of your hand functionality.
I later found out that I was the second person that Pit Bull has attacked.
Today is December 17, 2017 and the dog remains at the same residence, alive! County ordinances don’t protect me because I was on their property. The fact that I was there legally and doing my job didn’t matter. I struggle with this because I’ve always been an animal lover and pet owner. My pets weren’t just pets but were part of my family. When an animal becomes a threat to human life we must not allow our loving emotions toward animals to prevent us from protecting human life by properly addressing the threat of the vicious animal.
I’m not telling you my story so you can feel sorry for me. I want to bring awareness to our inexplicable laws that allows vicious animals to remain alive after such a tragic event. I don’t understand why there isn’t a law that protects first responders from vicious animals, whether they’re on an individual’s property or not.
I’m also sharing this story with you to say I’m happy. I am no longer depressed. See, the moment that my life could have ended I realized how much I wanted to live. I now love my thumb and I even call “him” Sparky. Sparky is what makes me special, Sparky has taught me so much about life. I just celebrated my 30th birthday and I’ve never been so thankful and grateful in my life as I am now.
This is part of my story. My life, MY SPARKY.
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