The last thing Kenneth Miller expected when he was lying in bed Tuesday morning was to be brutally attacked by his own dog.
Miller said he rolled over in bed, accidentally nudged the dog with his leg in the process, and suddenly found the dog’s teeth clamping down on his face.
“It’s a miracle I’m still here to tell the story,” said Miller, 61, in an interview with the Standard on Friday. “If they weren’t at home to get him off me, he’d still be gnawing on me. I’m sure of that.”
Miller was referring to his daughter and son-in-law who were at the home the three share at Holly Pointe Apartments on Yager Road when their family dog named Cole snapped.
“He just turned on him,” said son-in-law Charlie Carioto. “I tried to get in the room to give him medical attention and the dog was treating him like a steak. He wouldn’t let anyone near him.”
Miller’s daughter, Christina, rushed in the room too and together with Charlie they were able to attach a chain to the dog’s collar. Christina dragged him outside and was able to chain him to a tree.
“If she hadn’t done that, I would have been forced to pull an Old Yeller,” said Charlie, referring to the classic movie where Old Yeller is shot at the end.
Cole is now in custody at McMinnville Animal Control. The family says it doesn’t want him back and, due to his aggressive nature, he is likely to be euthanized, Animal Control officials say.
Miller said it was highly unusual for the dog to sleep on his bed. He said Cole has a doggie mattress in the corner and usually sleeps there or under his bed.
Miller said he was still in the fog of sleep when the dog decided to come full throttle at his face and there was little he could do to defend himself.
“He hopped up in bed during the night,” said Miller. “When I turned over and hit him with my leg that’s when he attacked me. I was screaming for help and trying to throw my hands up to protect my face. It’s still painful, very painful. I have trouble eating and sleeping and I can’t drink without a straw. I feel better today than I did on Tuesday, but not much better. It may take me a month to get over this.”
Miller required stitches in his lip, nose and left hand. Due to the bites, he has lost function with his left hand to the point where his grip isn’t strong enough to turn a doorknob. He has significant wounds on both his arms.
Miller said the dog had a change in his disposition about nine months ago when the family moved to a larger apartment at Holly Pointe Apartments with three bedrooms. The change in location prompted Cole to become slightly more aggressive and he attacked their other dog, a Chihuahua.
Even with a more feisty demeanor, Miller said he was “very surprised” Cole would attack him in bed. Miller was transported to Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital following the 9 a.m. attack Tuesday morning. Upon arrival, LifeForce was summoned to airlift Miller to a trauma unit in Chattanooga. He was released from the hospital Tuesday night.
Miller said he has been prescribed narcotic medication to help him manage his pain. He had a follow-up doctor’s appointment Friday and another one is scheduled for this Tuesday.