Utah boy, 5, survives dog mutilation with more surgery, recovery ahead

SANDY, Utah — There are physical hurts — and then there are emotional ones.

Five-year-old Mason Mihlberger survived a dog mutilation that sent him by helicopter to the hospital.

“I almost died because he bit me on the cheek,” Mason told KSL TV. “He was dragging me everywhere, but my mum and dad came.”

“If my husband and I weren’t here, my son would be dead right now,” his mother Tori Mihlberger said. “He went for his throat; he has bite marks on his throat.

Mason was cycling to his friend’s house when he was attacked by a husky. His mother and father – and his neighbors – heard the screams. Tori Mihlberger said she kicked the dog several times to reach the badly injured Mason.

“I don’t think I will ever forget him. All I can think of is looking down the road and seeing him looking at me and reaching out his hand like he’s saying “help me mom” and the dog won’t let go.

Mason was airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital where he underwent reconstructive face and ear surgery.

“They had to sew his face in layers; each layer of the fabric has a layer of stitches,” Tori Mihlberger said. She also said a skin graft was needed for her badly damaged ear.

Mason said he felt brave for the way he handled the attack, although he was afraid of falling from the medical helicopter.

“I punched him in the face as hard as I could,” he said. “It was good that I ran him over on the fucking road.”

His mother said Mason loved animals and would do nothing to provoke the attack.

“His eyes were fixed on Mason…As I rode up, the dog dragged him across the road, tossing him around like a rag doll. I don’t know why, but that dog wanted to kill my son.

She said she kicked the dog twice and the third time as hard as she could when he yelped and backed off so she picked up her son. She said the animal kept following them, trying to corner her husband and pinch Mason. They had to grab the dog, climb on it, and hold it with one knee to its throat. He had a collar but no tag.

With between 2,000 and 3,000 stitches and more surgeries in the coming months, Mason has a long way to go to recover, but he’s home. Neighbors, some of whom ran to help when they heard the screams, tied green ribbons on the trees in her yard. It’s his favorite color.

“We had so much love and support from everyone around us,” Tori Mihlberger said. “I appreciate it so much.”

The dog was taken away by animal control and is quarantined. Sandy police said the case will be turned over to the county attorney to decide what will happen to the dog and whether its owner will face charges.

Mason’s aunt started a GoFundMe to help with Mason’s medical bills.

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