The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

When a dog ripped his face open on the job, this reporter became the story. Now he’s telling it.

David Goodhue was covering a story in the Florida Keys about the recovery from Hurricane Irma when he was injured in November. (Colleen McKeown-Goodhue) (David Goodhue (Colleen McKeown-Goodhue))

It was supposed to be a routine assignment.

David Goodhue, a reporter who covers South Florida for the Miami Herald and, was going to cover a story in the Keys about the recovery from Hurricane Irma. He went to meet a man in a boatyard.

The man’s large dog stuck his head into Goodhue’s car, biting his hand and face and exacting a brutal toll.

Goodhue has had three reconstructive surgeries since the November attack — and he expects to have one to two more. But he wrote a gripping account of the horrific attack on Wednesday in the Herald, because that’s what reporters do. They just don’t expect to be the subject of the story.

“In a matter of seconds, I got a lesson in anatomy,” Goodhue wrote. “Flesh separates from our bodies easily, quietly and painlessly. I was reminded that graphic violence in real life happens fast and without warning.”

He wrote about watching the ground beneath him “turn red in a torrent of blood,” and his first thoughts turning to his wife and children.

“Staying present through conscious breathing is what kept me from going into shock as the two other people in the lot with me screamed in horror at the sight of what just happened,” he wrote. “Some of my face was gone.”

Goodhue had first tried to pet the dog, a canary mastiff, after the owner told him he was friendly. But the dog quickly launched into an attack. Goodhue said he caught a glimpse of himself in the car’s mirror but that any vanity he had was trumped by his desire to live.

“The look on the owner’s face, and the panic he and his wife showed as I bled, made me think I said my last goodbyes to my family that morning,” he wrote. “I quickly stopped caring how I looked. I wanted to hold my wife’s hand. I wanted to throw the ball to my kids and force them to go on runs with me, and badger them about getting their homework done on time so I can watch 'Jeopardy.’ I wanted to see them graduate high school, and hopefully college, and to fall in love some day.”

Thankfully, the Key Largo Ambulance Corps arrived to bandage Goodhue and take him to the hospital. He was hospitalized for five days.

"Miraculously, a plastic surgeon was able to reconstruct my nose using a large amount of skin from my forehead and a small part of the back of my right ear,” he wrote. “I can smell. I can taste. I sneeze. My nose runs. Aesthetically, I went from looking like I was mauled to looking like I was in a car wreck.”

He said another couple of surgeries will help more, though he may never get full sensation back in some parts of his face.

Still, he is thankful for the support he’s had from his colleagues, friends and his wife.

“Throughout our marriage, and especially since we’ve had kids, I’ve seen her selfless side on display more than not,” he wrote. “I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be as strong as she’s been during this ordeal if our situations were reversed. I spent the first week being home not willing to see myself in the mirror underneath my bandages. So, every day, Colleen would take them off, clean the wounds, and reapply them.”

Canary mastiffs, also known as presa canarios, originated in the Canary Islands and are a mix of English mastiff, bulldog and the Canary Island herding dog, with the original purpose of herding cattle. But they are powerful animals that have occasionally been implicated in violent acts, perhaps most notoriously in 2001, when one killed a woman in the hallway of a San Francisco apartment building. The dog’s owner, Marjorie Knoller, is still serving a sentence of 15 years to life for second-degree murder in the case. Prosecutors had argued that she was aware of the dog’s potential for violence and failed to control the dog.

In Goodhue’s case, a judge declared the dog, named Diesel, to be dangerous and gave his owner, Terry Wayne Moore, 14 days to decide its future, according to the Miami Herald.

The dog was supposed to be euthanized, or removed from the county, neutered, permanently caged, and muzzled, according to the Key West Citizen.

The Citizen reported that Moore moved the dog out of the county, although it is not clear where.

“Moore was ordered to pay $91 for violating county code by failing to restrain a fierce, vicious or dangerous animal, as well as for failing to have a valid Monroe County license or to neuter the dog,” the Citizen wrote in the Feb. 27 article. “The imposed fee remains unpaid.”

The Washington Post was not immediately able to get in touch with Moore, whose contact information is not readily available in public records.

Goodhue did not respond to a request for an interview.

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