A woman was left with horrific facial injuries after a frightened dog attacked her at a barbecue.
Amber Esala, 26, from Virgina Beach in the US, was celebrating Independence Day on July 4 when distant fireworks spooked a German Shephard she was dog-sitting with her boyfriend, Kyle, 24 and their 11-month-old daughter, Raelynn.
The panicked dog attacked Amber’s face, inflicting her with gruesome wounds that left her lip damaged and her nose sliced in two.
“My friend and I were sitting on the ground with a German Shepherd that our neighbours happened to be watching for the night.
“This particular dog seemed nice yet a little frightened due to the fireworks being set off,” said Amber.
“I remember it being quiet and then we heard a loud boom of fireworks down the street. The last image I had was staring at this dog face to face. I remember the dog’s eyes locking with mine before it attacked me.
“I came back to reality when I got up and the blood came pouring down. I was so confused and all I could remember was saying: ‘My face, my face is messed up.’
“They rushed me to the first hospital. It was question after question and all I could think about was my little girl sound asleep in her bed. The thought of her having to wake up without her mum really terrified me.
After leaving hospital following hours of surgery the next day, Amber was at first worried her wounds would scare her daughter, but a huge hug for mum when she came home stopped those doubts.
“As I walked out of the hospital all I could do was cover my face. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I was scared. The number one thing I thought about was going home to my daughter and her being scared of what she could see.
“Seeing my daughter made me want to be strong for her.”
Now over a month since the accident, Amber suffers from night terrors and sometimes feels sad when she looks in the mirror.
Although she finds it difficult to smile due to the loss of sensation in her face, Amber is determined to not let herself be defined by her scars and is instead embracing them as a sign of being a warrior.
Remarkably Amber doesn’t blame anyone – or the dog – for her accident.
“There was no one at fault, it was a lapse in judgment. At the end of the day we as people let our guards down too easily and that is something that we need to realise; animals are animals they have animal instincts and if they’re scared or frightened they can attack.
“We need to be more cautious when around all animals even if we think we know them.”