A Dayton woman says the quick response of police officers saved her life when two pit bull dogs turned on her in a violent attack on Feb. 10. Monica Hopkins, owner of a pet grooming business called Mo’s Mutts, was caring for the animals after their owner, a homeless man known by many in Dayton, was jailed. Feeling empathy for the plight of the dogs and their owner, Hopkins took them in.
For three months, she treated them like they were family pets, going on frequent walks to the park and allowing them to socialize with her black-mouthed cur dog, Norma. Everything was going well and Hopkins was looking forward to reuniting the dogs with their owner.
“They played with my dog all of the time. On the day of the attack, it was a slow day at work, so I took Norma with me. She laid down under the desk and they attacked her,” she said.
Hoping to break up the fight, Hopkins threw a bowl of water on them, which she now says was a critical mistake.
“They turned on me. My dog was fighting them, too, but she couldn’t help me. I was trying to figure out what to do,” Hopkins said.
As she was being attacked, she managed to call 911, but was unable to talk to the dispatchers. Somehow in the chaos of the moment, she managed to get outside, penning one of the dogs inside her shop while the other pit bull latched onto Norma’s back legs as she tried to get away.
At about that same time, employees for the City of Dayton began to hear Hopkins’ screams for help. Mo’s Mutts is located at 2001 N. Cleveland, directly across from Dayton police and fire stations, so officers and animal control officers were able to respond quickly.
When they arrived, they found Hopkins, badly bleeding from rips and tears to her hands and arms, on her knees in the driveway to her shop. The second pit bull was still attacking Hopkins’ dog, so Dayton Police Officer Jason Barnes tased the dog.
“My arm was laid open and my hand was ripped open from the attack. Officer Greg Rodriguez helped me stay calm. He just said to breathe and watch him,” Hopkins said.
The horror of the incident set in when she heard Rodriguez tell paramedics that her hand was degloved, meaning that the skin had been lost. Officer Joe Myers, who was a medic in a previous career, began attending to her wounds while they waited for EMS to arrive.
When she was transported to a local hospital, Animal Control Officers Danyell Trousdale and Sandy Guerra stayed with Norma until Hopkins’ daughter arrived. Later on, Trousdale and Guerra paid a visit to the dogs’ owner, who is still in jail, and a decision was made by the owner to have the dogs destroyed so they could not harm anyone else.
For Hopkins, the road ahead will involve more surgeries. She has already undergone two surgeries, which included skin grafts. She will likely need physical therapy as she is unable to use scissors, an important part of her work as a dog groomer. While she still mourns the two pit bulls that she had grown to love, Hopkins is grateful to be alive.
“Hands down it was the scariest moment of my life. It was also one of the most hurtful because I loved those dogs. In the weeks since this happened, I have had to heal my heart and my body,” she said. “I can’t explain what went wrong but they just turned on me and became vicious animals.”
Hopkins is grateful to the police officers, animal control officers and dispatcher who saved her life that day. On Thursday, she was reunited with Officers Rodriguez and Barnes, and Animal Control Officers Trousdale and Guerra. They were surprised to see that both Hopkins and Norma’s wounds are healing. Hopkins greeted them all with hugs.
Hopkins told Bluebonnet News that she believes police officers unfairly get a bad rap.
“I think they deserve some attention for the good things they do,” she said.
Lt. Shane Burleigh, a spokesperson for Dayton Police Department, credits the officers’ training for helping them keep calm amidst the chaos.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them. Their training, judgment and experience allow them to work well under stress,” he said.