By Otto Snow
Otto Snow, a life-long chemist and activist, shares account of vicious pit bull attack.
I am Otto Snow. On April 15th of 2018, I was the victim of an unprovoked attack by a pit bull and my lip was bitten off my face. I was walking with my friend John to get a pizza at Tri-City pizza. We were walking on Earle Avenue in the Little City neighborhood of Bangor, Maine.
We had entered Earle Avenue from Warwick Street and were walking towards Tri-City pizza. We could see an unleashed dog up ahead coming out of a driveway and running in the street. We continued walking and when we reached the driveway the dog was running across the yard and running around a man at the top of the driveway. We made some small talk and continued walking as the man was preoccupied with the very excited unleashed dog.
John and I kept walking. John stopped walking and turned. I stopped and turned. Wham! A dog lunged from behind me and tore off my lip. Blood gushing out of my face. For an instant, I thought there was a man standing behind the dog, but then he would have pulled on the leash, it doesn’t make sense. I rescued dogs, my father rescued dogs, and Dr. Young, my buddy who I came and stayed with when I arrived in Bangor, rescued dogs. I am not a newbie to handling dogs. Dr. Young mentioned that the dog was excited and was lunging for my throat.
I staggered off the street and fell onto the lawn, covering my face from further attack. I am screaming. I did not know how serious the injury was but needed to stop the bleeding as it was profuse. The man who owned the dog said, “Dog never did that before.”
I got up and screamed at him as he was doing nothing. “Wet cloth, crushed ice Now!” He said, “My sister is a nurse.” He ran into the house and a woman came out. She ran back into the house and came out with a wet face cloth with crushed ice. Blood continued to gush from my face and all over me. I pressed on my face to stop the bleeding. A piece of my lip was hanging from my face. Another piece of my lip was missing. I was told at the hospital that the dog probably ate it.
On the way to the hospital, my friend said, “We are taking you to St. Joseph’s Hospital.” I flashed back to a trauma in 1983 and asked my friend, “Do you have a gun?” He kept telling me that we are in Bangor, we are in Bangor. I came back. I am disoriented and in shock. I have never flashed so severe as what I did then. It was as though I was back in 1983, ready to get my mother out of a hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire because I feared for her life.
Q: Did you witness the attack?
Q: And tell us how -- what that was like, what you saw.
A: Well, it was just kind of shocking, traumatic, because I mean, it literally -- the dog jumped, like, six feet and, like, right on his face.
A: When you say six feet, do you mean six feet vertically in the air or horizontally?
A: It was about three feet, four feet -- I mean, no, no, it was higher than that. So I'm going to say -- it jumped up, like, five feet, so I don't know -- four -- it was on its lawn and jumped into the road.
Q: Okay. And was there any warning or barking before it jumped?
A: No. - John Huhn
The Surgery Procedures
The team at St. Joseph’s in Bangor was very calm as they worked on me. They cleaned me of all the blood that covered my face and told me that they were calling in one of the best surgeons in the area. I asked about the damage the dog bite had done to my face. I was told that the damage the dog had done was severe, very severe and a large part of my mouth had been torn from my face. They gave me a mirror and my lip was gone.
Dr. Campbell, a leading reconstruction surgeon in the area, was called in and it was arranged that he would arrive at EMMC asap. The team at EMMC was fantastic. I told them that I had experienced serious traumas in my life including one in a medical environment in 1983. They understood. Dr. Campbell explained every step of what he was doing as he stitched the layers of my mouth back together. The dog bite had torn my lip, flesh, nerves of my mouth, and the obturator oris muscle from my mouth. It is the muscle that allows us to pucker, speak, eat, and kiss. Multiple layers had to be pulled together and reattached as this part of my mouth was gone.
“DATE OF PROCEDURE: 04/15/2018
PREOPERATIVE DIAGNOSIS: Dog bite to right upper lip.
POSTOPERATIVE DIAGNOSIS: Dog bite to right upper lip.
PROCEDURE PERFORMED: Complex repair of 4 x 2 cm dog bite to right upper lip with full-thickness through skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle and mucosa with violation of the vermilion border. Total length of repair was 5 cm,” - Hector O. Campbell, MD
Doctor Hector O. Campbell would write: “The dog was unprovoked. The immunization status of the dog is not known. He was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, where his tetanus was updated and he received a dose of IV antibiotics of Unasyn. The patient was transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center for plastic surgery reconstruction due to the complexity of the dog bite to his right upper lip.”
The doctors were concerned about infection as dogs can cause serious infections and also rabies. I was placed on two 875 mg tablets a day of Augmentin for 10 days. I was concerned about tinnitus, neurogenic bladder and colitis associated with taking high dosages of antibiotics. Dr. Campbell understood my concerns and told me to take a probiotic along with every dose of the antibiotic to prevent diarrhea.
I would have to redress the wound area with gauze and bandages for a month, being careful to keep it clean. My mouth swelled up and around my eyes were darkened following the attack. The owner of the dog did not have anything concerning the dog’s rabies vaccination. The hospital would call me and say that they would have to begin giving me injections to prevent rabies if the dog officer could not provide proof of the rabies vaccination. The dog officer was on this. It was several days of panic waiting to get any co-operation with the owner of the dog.
I was out of my mind, face torn off, and new to the area. One neighbor in the neighborhood brought flowers.
Aftermath: Trying to Get Help - Complex PTSD
The previous traumas in my life began replaying endlessly after the dog attack. I could not get them out of my head. The insomnia was severe. I was losing my mind, suicidal. Once, after I had a phone call with medical personnel discussing these issues, the police showed up and blocked off the streets in the neighborhood with cruisers. I explained to the officer about the dog attack and how I was being denied medications to calm my anxiety, nonstop panic attacks, and help with my sleep. I was breaking down from the isolation, anxiety, panic, insomnia, and constant memories of past traumas following the attack.
The officers took me to the ER for a low dose long-acting benzodiazepine tranquilizer that I could tolerate and two people held me to stop the shaking. I would later find out that not giving tranquilizers to patients made more money for the hospital with more emergency room visits. Patients who legitimately needed pain killers were also being denied resulting in more emergency room visits. Patients who complained of this were listed as “drug seeking” and pulled into the “drug rehabilitation” programs, which is another economy for medical in the area. Stockholders and management all profiting from this form of abuse, under a guise of “helping” the patient. Some people need medications and that is why they are available and should not be politicized.
My nightmares were continuous for two years straight after the dog ruined my mouth. I was being denied medications and testing. I would have to put a pillow between my legs and put two belts to strap the pillow in. I was going into fetal position at night like I had done following a previous trauma in 1985. My muscles would tighten. Decades of therapy to get my PTSD manageable all coming apart.
Every time that I move my mouth, it pulls across my face. My face is off-center and crooked. When eating there is little to no strength on that part of my mouth. That part of my mouth feels thick, and I have had to scrape skin that grows along the area that has been stitched together. I cannot shave as it bleeds and have grown a long beard to cover my lopsided mouth and face. I also have developed a lisp. My projects and ventures, publishing, nutritional supplements, anti-tumor agents that are FDA approved, group activities to help those with PTSD and isolation stopped. Everything that I wanted to get going, all coming to a screaming halt.
Finding Qualified Experts
It is very important to find qualified competent healthcare immediately following an attack or trauma. Practitioners can do more harm than good if they are unqualified or abusive.
After the dog attack, I would have to travel two hours to find a competent practitioner who was very familiar with the medications that I could tolerate, PTSD as well as autism. I would connect with a leading expert in PTSD in another state. A coach would work with me. I would connect with another expert on PTSD. The diagnosis was Complex PTSD depression and autism.
“The available information is consistent with autism spectrum disorder, a depressive disorder and severe and complex post-traumatic stress disorder.” - Elliott B. Rosenbaum, Psy.D. 6/28/2022
Complex PTSD has all the basic symptoms of PTSD but with more symptoms and criteria. The difference between PTSD vs C-PTSD is that C-PTSD is caused from repeated traumas or continuous long-term traumas. Complex PTSD is much more volatile. It generally involves patient centralized therapies, not the take a pill, “drive-thru” mental “healthcare.”
Complex PTSD is from the International Classification of Diseases. DSM follows the ICD. Internationally Complex-PTSD is recognized as separate from that of PTSD. Victims of sex trafficking, child abuse, torture etc., are liable to get complex PTSD. Many psychological and physical diseases are directly related to complex PTSD, especially from traumas in childhood. It is also mentioned in the literature that creativity is therapeutic and many great artists have histories of trauma.
The traumas attacked my muscles, now a constant tremor. At night the horrors of my traumas came out, every night, night after night, and I would write about them along with the never-ending stress and insomnia.
Feeling wounded and defective to be around people, with an aversion to medical environments, I grew my beard to cover my deformed face. A few of the practitioners and law enforcement were straight forward with me. There are no services here in Maine. There are no resources. Everyone was seeing it and nothing is being done.
I would see Dr. Campbell again. I thanked him for what he did for me. My mouth is deformed from the attack. I was upset, my world shattered. Dr. Campbell said, “I am sorry Otto. There is nothing that can be done to return the part of your mouth that the dog bit from your face.”
I would take losses of several hundred thousand and future losses that we are calculating now. I would lose my house and be forced to relocate where I am able to get competent healthcare, friends who will facilitate me to connect with good people, and protective services for those who are elderly and are disabled, resources that are not available in Maine.
I have a couple of dear friends that are with me most of the time now. They get me talking about pleasant times as a child in Maine to bring me back. I am just now removing my mask for short periods. I go for walks with them in another part of the city where tenants and landlords are responsible. It is going to be a long slow recovery, and in my 60’s, it will have a very serious impact on my social security earnings. I am unable to write, work on books and the laboratory equipment has been dismantled and shipped out. I may never recover from this attack and what followed.
Otto Snow is an author of drug chemistry books used by law enforcement agencies and the courts. He has donated time providing scientific/medical documentation to veterans fighting for the right to cannabinoids in the treatment of PTSD. Otto was raised in both defense/pharmaceutical community of Southern NH and also in Maine with his grandparents on Wyman Lake in Somerset County.
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