WELLSVILLE - First responders took one look at Tina Springer on Saturday and knew she would have to be flown to Pittsburgh.
Amanda Bender took one look at her friend and all she could think was: Stay calm.
"If I started freaking out, I knew she would start freaking out," Bender said.
Morning Journal/Stephen Huba
Amanda Bender changes her son Kyle’s diaper on Tuesday just a few feet from where the family’s dog attacked a friend on Saturday.
Bender, 23, of Wellsville, witnessed the dog attack on Springer, 18, of Hammondsville, on Saturday and said she wanted to "set the record straight" about exactly what happened.
"There are a bunch of rumors," she said.
Springer was knocked down and bitten in the throat by an American bulldog belonging to Bender and her husband, Glenn "Turk" Bender. Springer was flown to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where she is listed in fair condition.
Bender said the attack was uncharacteristic of a dog that, before Saturday, had been the ideal pet since the couple acquired it earlier this year.
"I don't think he should be put down. He is such a sweet dog," she said. "He's never been aggressive."
The dog, named Hoss, is being confined to the Wellsville dog pound until authorities decide what to do with it. At about 120 pounds, the dog reaches to Bender's chin when standing on his hind legs. Bender has submitted a written statement to Wellsville police, giving her side of the story.
Bender said Springer was at their Anderson Avenue residence on Saturday, visiting, as she often does, for the weekend. Bender and her husband of five months got into an argument-"It was just a marital spat"-and it woke up their 4-month-old son, Kyle, she said.
"Tina said if that had been her baby, she would have hit both of us," Amanda Bender said.
That led to an altercation between Springer and Bender's husband in which Springer's cell phone was broken, she said.
"(Springer) was yelling at him," Amanda Bender said. #
Bender said the dog knocked Springer down in their living room and bit her in the face and neck. "Turk and I were both trying to pull the dog off," she said. "Like my father-in-law said, I think it was just a dog taking up for its owner."
With the dog off, Springer "got right up and walked right out." She went down a set of stairs and collapsed on the porch of Bender's father-in-law, Glenn Bender, next door, she said. The family called 911 from his house.
Amanda Bender said she kept applying paper towels to the wound but couldn't bring herself to look at it. "I thought the dog had got the carotid artery," she said.
More than anything, Bender said she tried to console her friend until the ambulance arrived. "She kept saying to me, 'I'm going to die, I'm going to die.' I said, 'No, you're not, Tina.' She kept saying, 'I can't breathe.' I finally got her talking about something else," she said.
Bender said she doesn't understand the dog's actions, especially since Springer and the dog have gotten along well. "He was laying on her lap on the couch. He loves that woman," she said. "Our children have known it since it was a puppy."
Bender said she wouldn't want her children around the dog now. The fact that the attack happened in her home haunts her.
"I keep waking up in cold sweats," she said. "I'm still dreaming about it and wishing it never happened."