DEERWOOD -- When David Deziel took his morning walk on June 23 on Lake Road in Irondale Township near his home he felt "an energy inside" caused him to walk down a certain portion of road where there are open fields so he could see the blue sky.
Little did Deziel know that this could have been his last walk. As it was, it would change his life forever.
Deziel was brutally attacked by two pit bulls that were owned by a 52-year-old Crosby man. Deziel survived the attack, thanks to a neighbor, Teresa Catlin, who helped the 60-year-old stranger and called 911. Deziel spent 16 long and painful days at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis before being released.
David Deziel was comforted by Teresa Catlin Tuesday while he recuperated at his home in rural Deerwood. Deziel was attacked by dogs June 23 on his morning walk along an Irondale Township road near his home. Catlin came upon the scene and used a flashlight to get the dogs off Deziel and call 911.
Deziel is recovering at his home.
Wrapped in bandages from his abdomen down to just above his feet, Deziel sat in his recliner with his feet up on Tuesday and shared his experience with Catlin by his side holding his hand.
"This was the last thing in the world I'd ever would have thought would happen to me," said Deziel. "I never anticipated to be attacked by two dogs.
"It was so frightening. I couldn't comprehend this and I still can't. If a wild animal would have attacked me I could have handled that, but two pets?"
Before the attack, Deziel walked frequently and he was in good health. On June 23, he decided to go for a walk about 6:30 a.m.
When Deziel turned around on his walk to head home he looked ahead and saw a full-grown pit bull rush at him. He said the dog was hiding in the tall weeds on its owner's property. The owner's home was not in sight and was located near the back edge of the property, said Deziel.
Fund set up
A fund has been established at Unity Bank in Crosby to help David Deziel with his medical expenses and other living costs. People can drop off donations at the bank at 15 E. Main St. in Crosby or mail it to the bank at P.O. Box 157, Crosby, Minn., 56441.
Deziel said the pit bull, which was the larger and stronger dog, grabbed his right knee with its teeth.
"I told it to stop and I was being nice to the dog," said Deziel. "I didn't want to panic. And before I knew it a second dog came and attacked me. That is when I started to panic.
"The dogs must have watched me go by and when I turned around they ambushed me."
The second pit bull attacked Deziel's other knee. Deziel said a third little dog was also present and ate pieces of flesh that were already torn by the other two dogs.
Deziel fought for his life. He punched the dogs and he tried to tear open the pit bulls' mouths off of his body, but was unsuccessful.
Deziel was bitten on all parts of his body, with both legs suffering the most damage. The dogs bit his mouth under his lips and also chewed on his two ears, tearing a piece of one ear off.
"It seemed like an eternity," Deziel said of the attack. "It all happened so fast.
David Deziel received a kiss on his head from Teresa Catlin as she greeted him Tuesday while as he recuperated at his home in rural Deerwood. Deziel suffered an attack in Irondale Township on his morning walk along a township road June 23. Catlin came upon the scene and used a flashlight to get the dogs off Deziel. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"I thought I was going to die. And when Teresa came here with the flashlight all I wanted to do was die and for it to be over."
Deziel said before Catlin saved him from the pit bulls a vehicle drove by and he tried to wave at it for help. He said the vehicle did not stop.
Deziel finally got a hold of one of the pit bulls by the collar as he was lying on the ground in pain. He didn't know where the other one was. He said his memory on some of the details of the attack is blurry.
Catlin, 37, said it was a coincidence that she was out at that time of morning driving her van on Lake Road. Catlin said she left the house alone at around 6:50 a.m. The attack occurred just a few blocks from her house.
Catlin first saw the dogs, but not Deziel. When she got closer she slowed down and saw him lying on the ground in the tall grass.
"It was one of those things like you see it, but you don't see it," she said. "I said to myself, did I just see that?
"I pulled the van over, put it in park and looked around for something to use on the dogs and I found a flashlight. I ran out of the van yelling and waving the flashlight and one of the dogs backed off. I got right between the dog and David and called 911."
Catlin said when she arrived there was one dog at Deziel's feet and he had the other one by the collar.
"I didn't have time to be afraid," she said. "I had to do something. Otherwise this guy was going to die.
"I don't know why I was not attacked. All I do know is that God was with us and he helped us. The dogs were panting and they laid down like nothing happen. I sat there with David and I prayed."
Catlin said she could tell there was a lot of commotion during the fight with the dogs and Deziel because the weeds were all down.
When the emergency personnel and the law enforcement authorities arrived one of the dogs fled. Authorities asked Catlin to step back slowly and get in her van. On her way to the van, Catlin said she heard a gunshot. Officers were forced to shoot the dog to allow medical personnel to treat Deziel.
Deziel said, "When the police came I shut my eyes and was on the verge of giving up. I then heard a gunshot by my head and it scared me to death."
Deziel was transported to the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby and then transferred to the Twin Cities. Deziel said on the fourth or fifth day at the hospital he came close to death.
Deziel, who bit his tongue a few times in pain during the interview, said doctors at HCMC told him it would be a few months before he would be released from the hospital. He was released in 16 days. He has had three visits from nurses from Home Health Partnership in Crosby and he visits the CRMC daily for them to check his wounds and re-wrap his bandages.
The aftermath of the attack has been overwhelming for Deziel. He said he has had so much support from family, neighbors and the community. He also has had a lot of support from Catlin.
"How do you repay someone for saving your life?" said Deziel. "What is a human life worth?
"There are no words to describe my feeling about her ... I'm so proud of her, she's my hero. I don't know how to thank her."
Catlin said, "I feel so much compassion and caring for him. Dave is a special person. I've been blessed and he has blessed my life."
As of Tuesday, there were no charges filed against the 52-year-old Crosby man who owned the pit bulls. Crow Wing County Don Ryan said the case is being reviewed.
Catlin said there have been complaints against the dogs. Last summer Catlin's then 14-year-old son was biking on the road and she said one of the pit bulls bit his pants and ripped it. She said she called authorities, but nothing was done. She also said a neighbor also had problems with the pit bulls and that the dogs broke into her neighbor's kennel and killed their dog.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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