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

·5-min read
Jacqueline Durand interviewed by CBS News (CBS News)
Jacqueline Durand interviewed by CBS News (CBS News)

A dogsitter who had most of her face torn off by two rescue dogs has chosen to reveal her injuries to the world in a bid to move forward without fear.

Jacqueline Durand, 22, from Dallas, Texas, had to be put into a medical coma, resuscitated multiple times, and given major reconstructive surgery after being mauled by dogs she had been asked to look after just before Christmas last year.

The two dogs had previously been "lovely" to her but immediately attacked her when she opened the door, dragging her into the living room and tearing off her nose, ears, lips and cheeks. The incident happened 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 in order to help dog owners and sitters understand the dangers. Some readers may find the images difficult to look at.

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

"I want for dog owners to know their animals and be able to communicate with their sitters how they are."

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

'I thought I was going to die'

Ms Durand, who is a student at the University of Texas at Dallas, had seven years' experience dogsitting when she was asked by Justin and Ashley Bishop to look after their two rescue dogs Bender, a boxer and pit bull mix, and Lucy, a German Shepherd mix.

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

With other dogs, Ms Durand said, there had never been any change in their behaviour between her first "meet and greet" and the first time she visited their house. She told CBS she was "speechless" about Bender and Lucy's sudden turnaround.

Describing where they attacked her, she said: "My legs, my arms, my face the most. Essentially, when I felt the skin hanging from my face, I thought I was going to die."

Ms Durand was saved by an automatic alarm triggered after the attack left the front door still open. When police arrived however, it took them 37 minutes to get past the aggressive dogs, and Ms Durand lost about 30 per cent of her blood.

In police video shown by CBS, the Bishops told officers that they had "zero" problems with the dogs before that point and that they had "no history of violence. None". He noted that there were already three children in the house, including a three-year-old.

However, Ms Durand is suing the family for negligence, and her lawyer has pointed to a sign allegedly hung on their door that read: "Crazy dogs. Please don't knock or ring the bell."

The lawyer, Chip Booker, told CBS: "The dogs were dangerous and had vicious propensities. We suspect the Bishops knew that. We suspect everybody who came across these dogs, particularly Lucy, knew that."

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

The Bishops are contesting that lawsuit. In a statement, they said: "We are heartbroken by the tragic incident involving Ms. Durand.

"We know that she was injured severely, and are devastated by what she and her family are going through. We would never knowingly put anyone in harm's way, and were shocked by what happened at our home.

"Due to pending litigation we have been advised not to give any interviews. However, we want Ms. Durand and her family to know that we fervently pray for her recovery daily."

Both dogs have now been killed by order of a judge. Ms Durand says she is still waiting for an apology from the Bishops, and that she was never fully paid for the dogsitting job.

Her partner Nathan is standing by her

Ms Durand arrived in hospital with more than 800 bites on her body, and required weeks of care and surgery. Doctors took skin grafts from her buttocks and her forehead to rebuild her face.

When she left hospital, she was applauded by doctors and nurses, and she arrived home to another ovation from first responders and her boyfriend of three years, Nathan, 24.

In her Instagram livestream, Ms Durand said: "'I was skeptical if he was going to stay with me. I asked him straight up, 'do you still want to be with me? I've changed forever', and he said 'I wouldn't want to be anywhere else'."

Before the attack, Ms Durand had helped Nathan through recovery from cancer. "I'm so grateful that I get the opportunity to show the same level of love and care that she showed me during that time," he told CBS.

Ms Durand still wants to work with dogs, and perhaps become a dog trainer, although she might not be able to go near German Shepherds and pit bulls again because the sight of them still triggers flashbacks.

Though she still has one to three years of surgery ahead of her, she said the prognosis is good for her face to grow back fully, meaning she is unlikely to need a face transplant.

On her progress, she said: "It really lifts me up compared to where I was. Because I just felt so helpless in hospital. Being at home, I knew I was going to heal more here than I could at the hospital.

"It's not fun to think about [future surgeries], but I also think about how amazing the doctors are. And so I'm putting it in their hands to help me."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting