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lunes, 1 de julio de 2013

Dog attack victim recovering, back to Jehovah's Witness ministry work ahead of upcoming convention



Beverly Wright walked with a cane, slowly, avoiding uneven ground on Wednesday morning as she went door-to-door on North Delaware Avenue inviting people to an upcoming Jehovah's Witnesses convention.


A week ago she had what she hopes will be her last of five skin grafts to repair wounds she received March 19 when a pit bull mauled her so badly that doctors told her she might lose her leg.

 Wright, 43, could have escaped injury that Tuesday morning when an 80-pound pit bull burst through the front door of a house in the 200 block of N. Lewis Place and attacked her ministry companion and longtime friend, Irene Parker, 78.

 But it never occurred to her not to help her friend.

 Both women were severely injured in the attack. And both knew their injuries would not keep them from going door-to-door with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Six weeks after the attacks, in early May, Wright returned to her ministry.

 "The doctors are amazed how fast I am healing," she said.

 She goes out weekly, usually tiring after two or three hours, even with breaks.

 She does it, she said, "because it's what Jehovah wants ... to let people know what God wants."

 At first she was a little nervous, she said.

 "But I realized it was one of those things that happened. It doesn't happen all the time. That helped me get out of the car."

 She has been going door-to-door with the Jehovah's Witnesses for 18 years, and nothing like that ever happened before, she said.

 Parker's recovery has been slower.

 She went off her pain medication a week ago and is still in constant pain but is able to sleep, she said this week at her daughter's Sand Springs home, where she is recuperating.

 "I'll be glad when I can get back to my ministry. It'll be awhile. When I get better, I'm ready to go out again. The only thing is, I'm going to be more cautious.

 "I'm doing better and I'm happy about it. ... All the prayers and cards and gifts have been very encouraging," she said.

 The events of that day three months ago are still fresh in Wright's mind.

 She was two houses away from Parker when the dog attacked.

 "I heard the screams and ran down there.

 "I pulled the dog off of her. I had it in a head lock," said Wright, who is 5 feet tall.

 The dog squirmed free and continued to attack Parker. When Wright pulled it off a second time, it turned its attack on her, tearing at her arms and then dragging her across the yard by her leg.

 Wright grabbed a baseball bat from the dog's owner who was standing by screaming and struck the dog twice before losing her grip on the bat.

 The dog continued to tear into her leg.

 "I was seeing him do it. It was awful," she said.

 The attack ended when a man working two blocks away heard the screams, grabbed a gun from his truck, distracted and shot the dog.

 Parker has little memory of the attack that broke seven bones, disfigured her face and nearly killed her.

 When she knocked on the door that day, she said, she heard a dog barking.

 As soon as a woman opened the door, the dog charged through the screen door, knocked her to the ground and attacked her head.

 She heard her right ear being ripped off and saw blood.

 "I don't remember anything after that ... I didn't feel nothing," she said.

 Both women were taken to St. John Medical Center, where doctors used several hundred stitches on each of them to close their wounds and then placed them in intensive care.

 As Jehovah's Witnesses, they do not believe in receiving blood transfusions. One hospital worker told Wright she would probably die without blood.

 "So be it," she said.

 Wright was released in eight days, Parker in 18 days. Both are still in physical therapy.

 Parker has had five surgeries, with more scheduled.

 Her latest surgery rebuilt part of an eyelid that was ripped off, making her unable to close one eye.

 Wright said she still has dreams about the dog.

 "I see him shaking Irene.

 "I might be afraid of dogs, but I'll never let them know it," she said defiantly.

 The two women have been in contact with Mike Harrell, the man who shot the dog.

 "He's very polite and humble," said Mike Elliott, Parker's son-in-law.

 Harrell saved Wright's life, and Wright saved Parker's life, Elliott said.

 "And I believe Jehovah had a hand in it," he said.

 "We believe angels accompany us in ministry."

 The women have had no contact with the dog's owner.

 Jehovah's Witnesses spokesman Mark Snead said church members "always try to exercise due caution" in neighborhoods, taking note of dog warning signs.

 "It's very rare for these kinds of events to happen," he said.

 "I've been going out since I was a child, and I've never had a dog attack me."

 Tulsa-area Jehovah's Witnesses are in a three-week door-to-door campaign to invite people to their annual district Bible convention July 5-7 at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on the University of Tulsa campus.

 "We hope to reach the majority of homes in the Tulsa area," Snead said.

 The convention will draw more than 5,000 people from 49 congregations in northeast Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, he said. It is identical to about 300 other conventions being held around the United States that will draw more than a million people.

 The Tulsa area has more than 20 Jehovah's Witnesses congregations that meet in nine Kingdom Halls.

 Wright said that accounts are set up in the women's names at the Bank of Oklahoma to help with medical expenses that are not covered by insurance.

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