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Elderly dog attack victim released from hospital

PHOENIX -- An elderly Phoenix woman was released from the hospital Tuesday, less than a week after being mauled by a pack of dogs.

Early last Wednesday morning, 72-year-old Elia Gutierrez was walking in Barrios Unidos Park near 16th and Mohave streets when she was attacked.

"She fought three times to stay standing and she continued to protect her face and neck," said Valine Paloma, Gutierrez's granddaughter.

Gutierrez was no match for the pack of dogs, who Paloma said seriously injured her.

"Bite marks on her arms, her back (and) her legs," she said. "Thank God she saved her face and her neck."

The situation looked bleak for Gutierrez as she was left to fend for herself, as no one else was in the park, said Paloma, until a Good Samaritan happened to pass by.

"I got a stick from the truck and batted them away expecting them to leave, but they didn't," Juan Figueroa said. "That's when they came toward me."

Figueroa said he feared for his safety and continued to fight the dogs until finally striking the largest of them in the head, at which point he said the others backed off.

Paloma, who was in Washington state at the time of the attack, said it was heartbreaking to hear what happened to her grandmother but is thankful she will recover.

Paola Pieri, a trauma surgeon with Maricopa Integrated Health System, said Gutierrez is expected to make a full recovery and will not need physical therapy or additional surgery.

Paloma said the incident has not damped her grandmother's spirit and Gutierrez was joking just days after the attack while still in the hospital.

"She told me, 'They (the dogs) messed up my Shakira body, but they didn't take my face,'" said Paloma.

Gutierrez still has a lot more recovery ahead of her and Paloma said Gutierrez will be living with her grandson, Antoine Chagnon, for the time being.

Donations to Elia Gutierrez can be made by visiting GoFundMe.com.

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About the Author


A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.

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