Life After Violent Attack
Fremont, CA - Angela Silva was attacked in her garage by a neighbor's pit bull last September. At the time, she was holding her son in her arms. To protect her son, she placed him in a nearby trashcan and endured the attack alone. Angela vainly tried to swat the enraged animal away and was left with serious wounds to both arms and debilitating injury to her left.
The Violent Attack:
"These are my battle scars," Silva said, glancing down at the purplish marks that run down from her elbow. "I'm proud I was able to save my son's life. But they're also a reminder of people's ignorance and what happened to me that day. I know everything happens for a reason. But I'm just trying to find a reason for this."
It's been almost four months since Swisher, the muscular pit bull from next door, charged into Silva's garage in Fremont as she was cleaning out her car, and lunged for 7-month-old Thomas Jr. Thinking quickly, she hid TJ in a garbage can to protect him, and used her left arm as a shield.
That horrific moment comes back each time a stranger stares at her gashes, or when it takes what seems like forever to click on hoop earrings or change TJ's diapers, relying mostly on her one good hand. The image of Swisher chomping down, again and again, is almost always there. It's too difficult to discuss it with her 12-year old daughter, Julesa...
Change of Life:
Silva, 32, still doesn't know whether she'll regain complete use of her left wrist and hand, or whether her thumb will ever fully extend. She may know more in a couple of months when the swelling goes down and her surgeon will decide whether he can repair her tendons. For now, her doctor has warned her not to drive.
While Silva considers herself a fighter with a positive attitude, she is haunted by fears she can't shake. She has yet to take a walk outside. She moved several neighborhoods away to get away from the dog's owners. She gets fresh air by sitting on her porch swing, surrounded by a new wooden fence that her boyfriend, Tom Ekman, built.
Sleep isn't the same any more, either. Her dreams are filled with visions of mad dogs. And her financial situation is a mess. The medical bills are piling up, and she's unsure of how she'll pay them. Silva hasn't been able to return to her job teaching special education for the Fremont Unified School District. And because she is part time, she isn't covered by the district's health insurance.
In the days after the attack, the community raised $12,000 for her. But that money was quickly spent. Half was spent on a round of hospital expenses, the rest on moving away from Swisher's owners, who are facing three felony charges.
The owners of Swisher, Charles Shelby Jr., and Kristi Willis are scheduled to appear in court soon. Each face two felony counts of failure to control their animal which caused serious injury and one count of conspiracy because they allegedly hid Swisher for two days after the attack. The charges could send them to prison for three years.
Silva also intends to sue Willis' insurance company because Willis was supposed to have taken out a policy on the dog after police deemed Swisher dangerous last spring when it attacked another neighbor.