Friday, July 12, 2024


Monroe Gage, a Montgomery County resident and Sgt. with the Houston Police Department who is tasked with training the dogs with the Houston Police Department K-9 division.

Scott Noll, KHOU 11 News



HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – It can happen in an instant.

You’re out for a walk when suddenly you’re face-to-face with vicious dogs.

It happened to Monica Garza last spring.

“They jumped on my chest,” Garza recalled. “They instantly both started eating me.

Garza was nearing the end of a seven-mile run along a trail near her South Harris County home when the nightmare began.

“As soon as they turned around and kind of locked eyes on me, I just had an instinct things were going to be bad,” said Garza.

Two male pit bulls attacked.

Garza was suddenly in the fight of her life.

“By myself,” she explained. “Fighting. Kicking. Screaming.”

Charles Jordan heard those screams.

“This was the worst thing I ever witnessed in my life,” said Jordan. “I’ve never seen an animal attack a human.”

The retiree jumped in to help Garza.

“I just jumped on her and I said ‘stop biting,” said Jordan. “[I] literally said this to the dogs, ‘stop biting this young lady. Eat this old man instead. And they did.”

And they aren’t alone.

According to Houston’s animal control, nearly 2,200 people reported animal bites last year; an average of six attacks each day.

“You drive down the street, there’s plenty of dogs that are just running around,” said Officer Monroe Gage III, the head trainer for Houston Police Department’s K9 unit. “It’s a big problem right now.”

That’s why Gage says it’s important for people to remember some simple tips if they’re confronted.

Tip 1: Stay Calm

Gage says a dog will feed off your energy.

“The more you yell, the more you get excited, the more that dog’s drive is going to kick in,” said Gage.

Tip 2: Slowly move to a safe place

“Walk to somebody’s porch,” suggested Gage. “Walk inside the gate. Get up on top of somebody’s vehicle. They’ll probably get upset, but you know what, it’s better than getting dog bit,” he said.

Tip 3: If you can’t safely get away, Gage says it’s important to try and create separation between yourself and the dog.

“If you’ve got a soda water, you’ve got a Gatorade bottle, throw the juice in his face and the dog’s going to hesitate for a second,” Gage said, “and that little second may give you a chance.”

Tip 4: If all else fails, and a dog starts to bite, the trainer says you should try and limit the damage.

“Grab him [the dog] in a headlock and just pick him right up,” Gage suggested. “Keep choking him and hold him up against your body. That way he can’t do any damage. He might be able to bite down, but at least he’s not being able to jerk.”

It’s been eight months since Garza’s attack.

After 350 staples and five surgeries, she’s returned to running and just completed her first half-marathon since she was bitten.

It was a 20 minute ordeal that has left her scarred forever.

“People have a tendency to stare a lot,” Garza said. “I’d rather have people ask what happened, verses starting at me and wondering what happened.”

She hopes by sharing her story, others will learn from it.

“It can happen to anyone,” Garza said. “The physical scars will be there for life and so will the emotional scars and the toll it takes on the entire family because of what a pet owner’s irresponsibility did.”

She wants all pet owners to keep their animals on leashes.

Garza says she did not have pepper spray with her the morning she was attacked.

Gage says that like many of the products on the market, pepper spray will work on some dogs, but not all.

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