VALLEJO, Calif. - Amanda Alkhatib was attacked by a pit bull in Vallejo a little more than a week ago, and now, three surgeries later, the small things, like taking a shower without getting her arms wet, are giving her a reason to smile.
And she's taking this painful, horrific experience to plead with all dog owners, not just pit bull owners, to train their "temperamental pets." She posted her open wounds on Facebook, showing her bloodied wrists, forearms and hands in the hopes of shining a light on what a dog's bite can actually do. She is scheduled for a fourth surgery on Feb. 7. She also needs rabies shots.
Nearly 10 days after the mauling, her arms still look as though a shark had taken a bite out of them.
"It feels like you're a kid playing in the snow without your gloves on, numb like that, all the time," she told KTVU on Tuesday. "I'm going to have these ugly scars for all of my life."
And the dog is still either roaming the streets of Vallejo, or in someone's backyard, according to the Solano County Sheriff's Department, which oversees the animal control division.
"It's our top priority to find the dog," Deputy Cully Pratt told KTVU. "The dog was not located and everyone is working around the clock to find it."
He said that animal control officers are scouring the streets of Vallejo, visiting homeless camps where pit bulls sometimes are kept as pets to protect owners and knocking on business doors to see if there is any surveillance video of the animal. The dog could either be a stray or someones' pet that got loose from a backyard, Cully said. Officers encountered several pit bulls on Wednesday, but none were the right one, he said.
The 45-year-old mother had finished shopping with her daughter on Jan. 19 and was heading back to her car near the old Walmart on Broadway Street when a pit bull, either dark brown or black with white above its eyes, came out of nowhere.
"There was this pit bull lunging at me," she said. "I barely had time to put my arms up.
He was huge, at least 100 pounds. I just remember looking in his eyes. He wouldn't let go. I was just trying to poke him in his eye."
Just then a man came up and kicked the dog off. She tried to hop in her car to drive away, but the dog lunged again, this time, going for her left side. The man got the animal off her and she hasn't seen him since.
She drove herself to Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center, a few blocks away.
"I didn't cry. I didn't scream," she said, "until they did the X-rays."
Alkhatib, who is out of a job and whose husband is an Uber driver, knows that blaming a certain breed of dog can open up a Pandora's Box, and there are many lists and studies that point fingers at various biters and the breeds most behind human attacks and deaths. But she has always been an animal lover and she actually has always liked pit bulls; several of her friends own them.
"It seems like whenever someone gets hurt by a pit bull, it's the breed that is blamed," she said, adding that she doesn't want to turn into a pit bull hater. Still, she said, she wants dog owners to take responsibility for their pets.
And while she's preparing for her fourth surgery and figuring out how to pay for her care, as she and her husband are not insured, she is trying to stay positive.
"I'm learning to celebrate the little things every day," she said, adding that Monday was the first day she could take a shower without getting her bandages wet. "The road ahead isn't so daunting."
If you're interested in helping, Alkhatib's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses.