Susan Love, director of the Big Sur Marathon’s Just Run youth athletics program and organizer of the Run in the Name of Love 5K to be held on Father’s Day in Carmel, underwent emergency skin grafts on her right arm after being attacked by a neighbor’s AWOL dogs near her Carmel home last week. The dogs also killed her 10-month-old puppy.
According to her attorney, Thomas Dunnion, Love was walking her little dog, a cross-breed of a Maltese and a Yorkshire terrier, on Canyon Place March 15 when three dogs owned by Josh Kilsey escaped from their yard and attacked them.
Love “grabbed her dog and tried to run away but was overpowered by the dogs and nearly knocked to the ground,” according to Dunnion, who reported the animals repeatedly bit her right arm and then mauled her puppy, Maggie, when the attack forced Love to drop her. Another neighbor heard her screams and was also bitten as he tried to pry the dogs off her puppy, while other bystanders dialed 911.
At Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, plastic surgeon Thomas Zewert conducted an emergency skin graft on Love’s right arm but said the extent of the nerve damage, scarring and reconstructive surgery are yet to be determined, “as the bites penetrated the skin down to the bone,” according to Dunnion. Injuries from animal attacks are among the most common reasons for plastic surgery.
The attorney said Kilsey’s dogs escaped due to inadequate fencing and have provoked prior complaints about attacks. Monterey County Animal Services seized the dogs, which Dunnion said are scheduled to be euthanized.
In addition to the trauma of witnessing the violent death of her puppy, Love faces a lot of rehab. The injuries are forcing her to step back as organizer of the Run in the Name of Love, the memorial race held in honor of her son, B.J., who died in 2005 when he hit a tree while practicing with the University of Virginia snowboarding team he captained. He had been on track to graduate three months later.
After holding the memorial run in Virginia for the past few years, Love decided to move it to her son’s hometown and was busy coordinating with the City of Carmel and Sunset Center to present it on June 19. Now, according to Dunnion, she is hoping volunteers will step in to assist.