Name: Susan Vanderpool
Victim: Adult, Pet
Location: In apartment complex, Oregon
Year of attack: 2021
Tell us about the attack
I was walking my 2 tiny dogs in our apartment complex when we suddenly encountered a man with a pit bull. I noticed the pit bull was pulling towards us, and wearing only a small collar. I immediately picked up my dogs, and tried to go the other direction, but the pit bull got free, and came running around the building. With no way to stop the pit bull, it literally jumped on top of me and began sinking its teeth into my arm: bite, pull, shake, over and over until it was so damaged I could not longer hold on. 10 lb. poodle / chihuahua ‘Bella’ was yanked to the ground, where the pit bull violently attempted to kill her. I literally thought I was seeing her being eaten. I believe the slippery material of her harness saved her life. The owner punched his pit bull repeatedly to get it off my dog, then fled, leaving us to bleed out.
How has your life changed as a result of the attack?
I feel like I’m not even the same person. I am terrified to go outside. People treat me like I’m being a crybaby crazy “Karen” for even mentioning it was a pit bull. My dominant arm is now damaged from fingers to bicep, and it hurts constantly. It is physically difficult now to do everything from brushing my teeth to texting to vacuuming, driving — just everything. I hope I will still be able to play guitar & piano; it’s the thing I love most besides my children and pets! Horrible PTSD and intrusive thoughts that won’t stop. My dogs mostly use pads now, and I don’t step out the door without taking a weapon. I know the dogs miss their walks, but after six months of researching all the information I can, I have had to surrender to the fact this same pit bull can kill us because the law dictates it gets a chance to do it again.
The pit bull owner was fined the “maximum” $265 after failing to show up for court. The money went to the government, not me. He refuses to cooperate in giving insurance information, and still lives right across from us. The property management has also refused to assist in any way with this. I missed four months of work due to the injury, and I am frantically trying to avoid eviction. The pit bull owner gets protection by the laws, not the victim. Not even a sign has been posted to warn people, and I’m worried sick a child will get killed here. It’s mostly vulnerable people here, and they don’t even have the right to be warned… not even when new people come to rent a place. Nobody knows and nobody cares. The attack didn’t even make the news, and there would be no record it even occurred if I hadn’t pressed charges. So I’m the jerk.
What would you like people to know as a result of your attack?
I don’t want to see pit bulls be mistreated. But these are not isolated incidents. Every pit bull defender I’ve spoken to asserts the same tired excuses, yet have not even listened to (nor are they willing to listen to) the awful details of all these cases. I tell them it feels like being eaten alive, but they roll their eyes. I want to get involved with getting the laws changed. Further breeding should be put on hold, in my opinion, and there should be very strict laws to keep pit bull owners accountable. Yes, any dog can bite, but it’s the strength of pit bulls that is so deadly. They are still being used, abused, and there is no current way to control who has them. It is cruel to expect pit bulls to be something they’re not.