Jacqueline Durand, like many other college students, worked as a pet sitter. The job is great for people who love animals, and Durand was definitely an animal lover.
She had a lot to look forward to, and the 22-year-old was set to graduate next year from the University of Texas, Dallas. But just two days before Christmas last year, she suffered an unusually brutal attack while visiting two dogs she was petsitting — and her life has been changed forever.
The dogs, which she had met before and she said seemed fine, attacked her as she came in through the front door to care for them. They were both large dogs: Lucy was a German shepherd mix, and Bender was a boxer/pitbull mix.
“While being mauled, she lost both ears, her nose, her upper lip, her cheeks and lost essentially all jaw muscles along with the capability to chew food,” the GoFundMe set up by a family friend said. “Jacqueline will have a very difficult and long road ahead through surgeries, various therapies, and the everlasting trauma of this attack.”
Durand told CBS News that at the time, she thought it was all over: “I thought I was going to die.”
And she probably would have, if not for one small detail about her entry: The door had been opened and did not shut, triggering a security alarm.
When police arrived, the dogs were so aggressive that it took 37 minutes for officers to be able to enter the home so a medic could enter and whisk Durand to the hospital.
She had lost 30 percent of her blood and was in very bad shape. She was rushed into seven hours of emergency surgery, where she experienced multiple resuscitations. Her parents didn’t even know what had happened until hours into the surgery when they heard from one of the doctors.
“It was clear that he was saying she’s in for a fight for survival,” father John Durand said. “And as we later found out, she had to be resuscitated on the trauma table.”
Following the surgery, Durand was placed in a medically induced coma for a week, and though she was still in bad shape, her parents were just thankful she was alive.
As she went through reconstruction, therapy and extensive healing, the focus turned to the dogs and their owners, Ashley and Justin Bishop. The Bishops said the attack was unprecedented and that their two dogs had never shown any signs of aggression before.
“I have three kids,” Justin Bishop told police. “One is 3 years old. No history of violence. None.”
A judge ordered that the two dogs be euthanized.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic incident involving Ms. Durand,” a statement from the couple said. “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.”
According to Durand, though, the owners have not contacted her — and they never even finished paying her for her services.
“I would like an apology,” she said, according to reporter David Begnaud with CBS News.
Throughout it all, Durand has been a trouper, and she decided to share her story and the slow, painful process of her recovery with the world.
She said she has a lot of hope despite all the suffering she has experienced, and this week an interview with her has been released.
“I feel like I didn’t ask for this,” the college student said. “So, I think that it’s time to show who I am now, and I can’t be scared of it.”
The attack hasn’t put Durand off of animals, and she still loves her own two pups and hopes to train dogs someday. Her boyfriend, Nathan, whom she helped get through cancer treatment previously, has stayed by her side and been able to show her the same sort of care she showed him.
The GoFundMe had raised over $312,000 by June 1, and Durand expressed her gratitude to those who have followed her story and offered support.
“I am so blessed to be surrounded by so much love and support as I go through this hard time in my life,” she posted on Facebook in January. “Thank you everyone who is supporting and loving me every step of the way since the beginning! I am making good progress every single day that I’m here. Prayers are being answered! Thank you.”
She also has a message to pet owners who use the services of pet sitters, imploring them to be honest about their animals’ behaviors.
“I want for dog owners to know their animals and be able to communicate with their sitters how they are,” Durand said.
“Honestly, I’m speechless. After every meet and greet I had, I always felt the same with those other dogs and they don’t change their attitude from the time that I meet them to the time that I go there for the first time.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.