When Kim Shay opened the door to the basement apartment that she rents out, the 100-pound pit bull went for her friend, latched onto his arm and started violently shaking it.
Shay kicked the dog and yanked its collar, but the pit bull wouldn’t let go. So she bit Smokey, first on the ear, then on the cheek, trying to get the dog’s attention.
That’s when Smokey attacked her, she said Tuesday.
The dog fastened onto her right arm and jerked it with powerful jaws. She put up her left arm, trying to fight the dog off while calling its name.
“Smokey, it’s me,” she pleaded.
Then the male pit bull went for her left arm, chewing it to shreds. The dog knocked Shay over and the two wrestled on the basement floor, sliding around in her blood.
She had to get out of there. The pit bull was going to kill her, she thought.
Shay crawled up a few stairs, she said, but the dog pulled her down by the leg. She tried again and again until she was at the top of two flights. Using all her strength, she pushed the door open and slammed it shut, with Smokey on the other side.
“I was dripping in blood, head to toe in blood,” she said from her bed at OHSU Hospital.
Her friend, apparently traumatized, had not called anyone for help, so Shay staggered outside, screaming. She walked to the fire station less than a block away, at Southeast 134th Street and Foster Road, and banged on the door. In the end, a commuter stopped, called 911 and an ambulance took her to the emergency room.
She’s been at OHSU ever since the attack about 5 p.m. Thursday. Doctors operated, trying to patch her together. Her left arm, which was broken, is a mess. When the dog was done, Shay had three strips of skin left, with bone, tendon and nerves exposed. She said it’s unlikely she will ever have full use of the arm again.
“It would be really miracle if I got to 50 percent,” she said.
But Shay, who’s 53 and has multiple sclerosis, bears no ill will toward the dog. She has a pit bull of her own, Toby, who’s 9 years old. But unlike Toby, Smokey is not neutered, she said.
Smokey also attacked someone in the home where its owner lives, Shay said. That’s why the pit bull came to stay with Shay’s renter.
Shay knew Smokey was sometimes staying in the basement apartment. She even played with the dog. But she told her renter that the pit bull had to go — Smokey frightened her, she said.
“I loved on this dog and played on this dog,” she said. “It’s such a tragedy. But he was massive. Even playing, he would knock me over.”
Smokey, who’s about 2 years old, is in a security quarantine kennel at Multnomah County Animal Control in Troutdale. Animal Services investigators consider Smokey to be a dangerous dog — one that either kills a person or causes serious physical injury.
Shelter staff interviewed the owner, Reanna Erickson, on Tuesday and served her with a notice of infraction, said Randall Brown, the shelter’s chief field supervisor. The notice advises her to surrender the dog. She can appeal within 30 days, pay $100 for boarding and $25 for a hearing and a private attorney will decide the dog’s fate.
If Erickson surrenders the dog, a shelter review panel will determine its fate. Erickson couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Shay doesn’t like to talk about euthanasia, but she said she doesn’t think Smokey can be rehabilitated.
As for her own future, that, too, is uncertain. She’s likely to be discharged from OHSU on Wednesday, but will have to go into a rehab facility to try to regain some use of her fingers and arms. On Social Security disability, she has limited means and lives alone. Her daughter has set up a fund – Kim Shay Community Fund at Rivermark Community Credit Union – for anyone who wants to help out.
Shay has managed to keep her sense of humor, even laughing occasionally while recounting the ordeal. She does not want the attack to reflect on the breed.
“I don’t want this to be all about how bad pit bulls are,” she said. “That’s not the case. This is a single incident. It’s not the norm.”