Golden dog attack victim recovering in Calgary hospital

Golden resident, Isabelle Simard, is awaiting a skin graft surgery in a Calgary hospital to treat her dog bite wounds.

More than a week after being attacked by two Karelian Bear Dogs, Isabelle Simard is still in a Calgary hospital recovering, and awaiting a skin graft surgery.

“I am actually feeling pretty well, I don’t have any infections or anything. I’m just waiting for the skin graft,” said Simard.

The Golden business owner was in very high spirits during a phone interview on Saturday morning, and was very excited to see her teenage daughter and son who were making the drive to Calgary to see her that afternoon.

“My mom has just flown in from Quebec as well,” said Simard, who added that she is very eager to get back home.

Simard has a bookkeeping business called Numbers and Letters, and was stopping by one of her clients’ businesses, the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, on her way home from work at around 6 p.m. She has been working with the centre for more than 10 years.

“When I got there an employee asked me if it was OK to have the dogs tied up out front, and I said that was fine. I knew the dogs,” said Simard.

She was there for five to 10 minutes, unloading some files from a USB drive. And as she was leaving the building, she noticed one of the dogs, Utah, approaching her.

Utah attacked her, latching onto her leg at first. The other dog joined in, and before Simard knew it, she was on the ground, in the fetal position, getting bites on both her legs, face and skull.

“I knew that fighting back wasn’t going to help me, so I just laid there in the fetal position yelling, hoping that the employee would hear me,” she said. The employee was close by, inside the building on the phone.

The employee did hear her call for help, and came outside to pull the dogs off of her. As the employee was trying to settle the dogs down, Simard began to crawl away, trying to get out of reach of the dogs’ leashes.

“I really don’t know what would have happened if the employee hadn’t come out, because I was just done,” said Simard.

“I was just sitting there, bleeding, and she (the employee) said ‘it’s OK Isabelle, it’s over now. I’m going to take you to the hospital.’ She had to call someone to come in, because the centre can’t be left unattended, then she drove me in my car to the hospital.”

On the drive to the hospital, Simard could see a “hole” in her leg, with skin hanging off.

She arrived at the hospital, and the staff determined that she would need surgery. They called down to Cranbrook first, but eventually got Simard booked for minor surgery at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

“They didn’t stitch me up in Golden, because with an animal bite they worry about infections. So I was coming back a couple times a day to get my dressing changed,” said Simard.

She added that she was very well taken care of at the Golden hospital, and is very grateful to the friends who were there to take her back and forth for her dressing changes.

Friends drove Simard to Calgary on Sunday April 29, but when she got to Foothills it was determined that the surgery required was not as minor as they thought.

After almost a week in the Calgary hospital the doctors have stitched up her more minor wounds, including ones on her jaw, and the back of her head.

“You could actually see my skull, but the were able to pull the skin together and stitch that one up. It feels so weird, because it’s numb. I asked, and they told me it will always feel like that now because there was some nerve damage,” said Simard.

Doctors are hoping that Simard’s wounds will be ready for the skin graft surgery soon, but if they are not, she will be sent home for a few days and will return to the hospital the following week.

“I am really eager to get home and back to my life,” she said. “I will be going back to work when I get home. I’m a mother with two kids, and I’m self employed. So missing two weeks of work is huge for me.”

Simard’s injuries have kept her out of work during the tail end of tax season.

“I really want to mention how great the community support has been for me. I’ve been getting lots of concerned phone calls, people have been bringing over food. And I had friends to drive me back and forth from the hospital. I always knew that Golden was a wonderful community, but now that I am in the position where I need a bit of help, I am very grateful for all the support I’ve gotten.”