The father of a Texas college student who was permanently disfigured in a vicious dog mauling spoke to TODAY about what his daughter is facing after she was attacked in December.
John Durand said that his daughter, Jacqueline, was scheduled to dogsit three canines on Dec. 23, 2021, the day before her 22nd birthday. She met the animals and the couple she would be working for a week in advance, and Durand said that there were "no incidents," but when Jacqueline Durand went to the house, she was attacked by two of the three animals.
"On the day that Jacqueline was going to the home, she was advised by text that the dogs were, as they normally were, out of their crates, with no warning to be extra careful or anything like that," John Durand told TODAY by phone from Coppell, a suburb of Dallas. "So when Jacqueline, as instructed, opened the front door to the home, she was immediately attacked by the German shepherd mix and the pit bull mix."
Comments from police found in legal documents obtained by TODAY corroborate Durand's summary of events. Jacqueline Durand has filed a lawsuit against the dog’s owners, identified in court documents as Ashley Jo Bishop and Dr. Justin Avery Bishop, alleging negligence and premise liability.
The Bishops were not immediately available for comment on Saturday morning.
According to legal documents reviewed by TODAY, “the Dogs violently attacked (Jacqueline's) head and face — mauling her catastrophically. The Dogs were so violent and bloodthirsty that they pulled all of Jacqueline’s clothes off, including her blue jeans ... tore off and ate both of Jacqueline’s ears, her nose, her lips, and most of her face below her eyes."
John Durand detailed the brutal attack for TODAY, choking up as he described his daughter’s injuries. He said that she remembers the attack.
"She stayed conscious throughout the attack and felt like she knew that this was a day she was probably going to die," he said.
The 22-year-old was saved by a neighbor because the front door of the Bishops' home had been left open. The neighbor, whose husband called 911, was also bitten by the German shepherd twice, Durand said and court documents corroborated.
Jacqueline Durand was rushed to the hospital. About an hour after the incident took place, her father recalled police officers arriving at his front door and asking him and his wife if Jacqueline was their daughter.
"We asked about her condition; they said, 'We really can't go into that other than to say she's alive,'" John Durand said.
"I was thinking, as we were driving, that the officer seemed very glum and said 'she's alive,' and so as we were driving there, I was thinking, without wanting to upset my wife further than she already was, that this must be really bad because there were local hospitals much closer that they could have taken her to," Durand said. "It was just sheer disbelief, sheer panic, just fear of the unknown and what we were going to face."
The hospital that Durand and his wife were directed to was a Level I trauma center, where they waited “until the wee hours of Dec. 24” to get an update on their daughter’s condition. Durand said that his daughter had quickly been placed in an induced coma, which she stayed in until Jan. 5. Even now, Durand said that he and his wife are at the hospital "almost 24/7" to support their daughter.
Durand said that now, more than a month after the attack, Jacqueline Durand is still hospitalized and requires around-the-clock acute care, including ongoing treatment of her wounds and intravenous medications. She has had eight surgeries, with a ninth scheduled to replace her lower eyelids with skin grafts.
"That whole area, horizontal from ear to ear across her face, was basically skeletal, so her musculature in her cheeks, nerves, all of that was ripped away by these dogs," John Durand said, adding that at first, his daughter could only communicate using sign language that she had learned while working with deaf and handicapped children.
Durand said that stories of dog bites and maulings have always tugged at his heartstrings, but he now feels even more empathy for the victims of such attacks after seeing what his daughter survived.
"My daughter is 5-foot-4, 100 pounds soaking wet, and for her to show the strength and the courage in the incredible fight to stay alive, we're just grateful," he said.
The incident has not diminished Jacqueline Durand's love for dogs, he added.
"My daughter was in this situation because she loves dogs. She has two of her own, and she still loves dogs. She is not afraid to have dogs even after this attack," John Durand said. "Jacqueline will always be a dog lover. She’s even mentioned about dogsitting again one day. You know, that’s how much she loves doing what she does."
Durand said that he has not heard from the Bishops, but said that a hearing to determine whether the dogs should be euthanized took place earlier in January. He and his wife ultimately decided not to attend because they were advised that graphic body camera footage from the attack would be shown. The judge ruled that the dogs would be euthanized, though the procedure will likely wait until after the lawsuit is completed. According to Durand, the dogs are being held by Coppell's animal control services.
While the lawsuit continues, Durand said that he and his family will continue to support Jacqueline Durand in whatever way she needs.
"We're hopeful; we're strengthened by Jacqueline’s courage, but obviously, as parents, how can you not be worried sick about a daughter who, the day before her 22nd birthday, which was also Christmas Eve, had the world as her oyster, and now we don't know," he said.
"Our concern is solely focused on how we can be there for Jacqueline for the rest of her life and how she can function, given that these are completely life-altering injuries," Durand said. "We don't know what the future holds, but we know that we're going to be by her side the entire time."