Metro-East News

‘Look out, he bites’: Belleville woman recovering from dog attack

Belleville woman recovering from dog attack

Jessica Durham was attacked by a dog near her home on Monday.
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Jessica Durham was attacked by a dog near her home on Monday.

Jessica Durham was almost home.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, she and her brother, Josh, were walking in the 900 block of North 39th Street in Belleville from the Phillips 66 station at Illinois 161 and Royal Heights Road when, just in front of her home, she saw what she thought was a full-grown husky-type dog loose in the neighborhood. A woman driving a light-colored car was following the gray and white dog.

“I was near the lady and the dog. She said, ‘Look out, he bites,’” Durham, 21, said. “I remember that, and then all of the sudden, (the dog) runs toward me, jumps, grabs my arm and shakes it for a while. The lady didn’t try to help the dog get off. I had to wait until he let go.”

Durham said the dog’s teeth were latched to her arm for about 10 seconds. When he let go, she ran into her home and collapsed onto the kitchen floor. Josh grabbed the first towel he could find.

I was near the lady and the dog. She said ‘Look out, he bites.’ I remember that, and then all of the sudden, (the dog) runs toward me, jumps, grabs my arm and shakes it for a while

Jessica Durham, who was attacked by dog

Durham remembers that the woman who was following the dog knocked on the Durhams’ door after the attack, but she didn’t answer because she said she was focused on calling 911 and on keeping her brother Josh, 24, who has autism, calm. She said she also remembers hearing the woman make a phone call near the family’s back door and mentioning that Jessica would need an ambulance.

“It must not have been the police, though, because my mom asked them if anyone else called about a dog attack and they said ‘no,’” Durham said. “(The woman) left before the police even got there, or the ambulance. I had to call 911.”

Durham’s parents, Brian and Marilyn Durham, both rushed home from work, where they found Jessica bleeding on the kitchen floor. Belleville Police responded to the home, took pictures of Jessica’s wrist and then searched the neighborhood for the dog. The dog was gone.

Neither Belleville police nor anyone at St. Clair County Animal Control could immediately be reached for comment.

You saw your dog attack someone, you follow them to the door, and then you knock one time while they’re still freaking out and you don’t dial 911? I can’t see the logic behind that. That’s like hitting somebody with your car and leaving. It’s just not right. It’s not right at all. She could have died here

Brian Durham, father of Jessica Durham

An ambulance transported Jessica to Memorial Hospital, where doctors learned her left forearm was broken in two places. She suffered two large bite marks to the top of her left forearm and a gash four centimeters wide on the underside of her wrist. After an exploratory surgery and a five-day hospital stay during which doctors pumped her full of antibiotics to guard against infection, Jessica was released Friday evening.

“I’m relieved to be out of there, but I’m scared,” Jessica said. “I don’t like dogs anymore.”

Her parents are glad she’s home and recovering, too, but they said they’re upset that the woman who was following the dog the day of the attack left without doing more.

“You saw your dog attack someone, you follow them to the door, and then you knock one time while they’re still freaking out and you don’t dial 911? I can’t see the logic behind that,” Brian Durham said. “That’s like hitting somebody with your car and leaving. It’s just not right. It’s not right at all. She could have died here.”

This whole thing should have never happened. You have a dog that’s dangerous, you know it’s dangerous, and it’s out in public. This isn’t just a bite, this is serious. He did some damage

Marilyn Durham, mother of Jessica Durham

“I’m trying to control my anger right now, honestly,” Marilyn Durham said. “This whole thing should have never happened. You have a dog that’s dangerous, you know it’s dangerous, and it’s out in public. This isn’t just a bite, this is serious. He did some damage.”

The family is asking that the dog’s owner or anyone else who saw the attack to come forward.

“I don’t want that dog to bite someone else,” Brian Durham said.

Tobias Wall: 618-239-2501, @Wall_BND

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