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Bleeding Clinton woman crawls, screams to escape attacking dog

Amanda Gates shows a wounded arm and pokes her fingers through a hole in her jacket’s hood made by a dog bite. Since the thick hood covered her neck, she thinks it may have saved her life.  - Jim Larsen / The Record
Amanda Gates shows a wounded arm and pokes her fingers through a hole in her jacket’s hood made by a dog bite. Since the thick hood covered her neck, she thinks it may have saved her life.
— image credit: Jim Larsen / The Record

A young Clinton woman feels she was lucky to escape death when attacked by a vicious dog, leaving her with serious head wounds and other bites to her back and arms.

Amanda Gates, a slim 19-year-old brunette, was housesitting March 20 for an acquaintance, Elisbetta Poggie-Blethen, at her home on Deer Lake Road. Three dogs were chained outside, two 5 month old pups named Sprocket and Tazzy and an adult male guard dog named Axel, a shepherd/husky mix chained to a runner. Photo courtesy of Island County Animal Control | This shepherd/husky mix breed dog, Axel, allegedly attacked a Clinton woman.

On her way to run some errands, Gates noticed the two pups were tangled up in their chains. She went to straighten things out as the guard dog was barking. She took notice when the barking stopped.

“I looked up to seem him charging straight at me,” she said Thursday morning, recovering at the home of her step-mother Tresha Machemia who lives at the bottom of Swede Hill Road. “My brain stopped working. I just turned around to run.”

While the dog was attached to a strong chain, he pulled the chain from the runner and went after the girl, according to Carol Barnes, Island County Animal Control Officer.

The big dog knocked Gates down and started biting her. He got a grip on the back of her neck, ripping a big hole in the hood of her thick winter jacket. “There were deep cuts on the hood where my neck was and on the jacket where my spine was. The jacket saved my life,” she said.

As she screamed, the dog went for her head, grasping it in his jaws and shaking her. “It was like a dream, I felt teeth, my head shaking, then screaming, then the worst pain I’d ever felt,” she recounted.

The young woman crawled, crying and screaming for help, toward Deer Lake Road with the dog still nipping at her body.

When she reached the road she managed to stand up and flag down a passing car. Amazingly, an occupant was a nurse who has not yet been identified. “She was so supportive and kind and used her own jacket to pillow my own head which was bleeding a lot,” she said. Jim Larsen / The Record | A few stitches fixed one bite in Amanda Gates’ back and she suffered other bruises, scratches and bites trying to escape her four-legged attacker. Two gashes in her head required a total of 29 stitches.

The nurse’s male companion confronted the dog which lunged toward him, but then ran into the woods.

Gates was taken by Whidbey General Hospital by ambulance. Doctors in the ER used 29 stitches to patch two gashes in her skull, which are barely visible through her thick hair. Another wound required three stitches, and bandages were used to cover bruises and scratches, some from the dog and some from crawling through weeds to the road.

Gates said she had difficulty sleeping Wednesday night because of the pain. She spent some time looking on the Internet and on one site she heard a dog bark. “I was paralyzed with fear,” she said.

Officer Barnes issued three citations to the dog’s owner, beginning the process of having it declared a dangerous dog. Its shots were up to date, included rabies, so she allowed the owner to keep it in her house, or take it outside on a leash.

“The investigation is continuing,” Barnes said. “The kid is very fortunate.”

She commended the helpful nurse for her actions and would like to know who she is. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call ICOM’s non-emergency number, 360-341-4400. A fund to help with medical expenses is established at Whidbey Island Bank.

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