KODIAK — An 18-year-old is recuperating after being attacked by a dog around 10:30 a.m. Friday morning.
Josiah Juhlin, a May graduate of Kodiak High School, was working at the Surf and Turf storage facility doing general labor for Highmark Marine Fabrication when the dog approached.
He was sitting on a piece of wood, resting on a forklift, about two feet off the ground.
Juhlin – who lives on a farm, and is comfortable with animals – said “hey, puppy.”
“He seemed fine,” Juhlin said.
But the dog snapped.
“I leaned over and looked at the dog, and he lunged at my face,” Juhlin said, describing the dog as a black dog without a collar.
The animal bit him multiple times, slashing his lips, mouth, and cheek.
“I touched my face and my hand was covered in blood,” he said.
His co-worker drove him to the hospital, where he was sent to the operating room for surgery.
He received over 30 stitches and a tetanus shot, and stayed at the hospital until around 4 p.m.
Following the incident, Juhlin and his mother Christine Burton contacted the police.
Animal control is looking into the attack, and may have surveillance footage. But as of Monday, the dog had not been located.
“We haven’t found anything yet in the area that would match the dog’s aggressiveness,” Lt. Francis de la Fuente said.
Nichol Wilson, a specialist with Kodiak’s animal control unit, said while her department gets multiple calls each month about aggressive dogs, she has never seen an attack this severe in her eight years with the unit.
“This is the worst dog bite I have seen to-date,” she said.
In her experience, dog behavior – particularly of older dogs – can be unpredictable. But it’s hard to know what motivated the attack.
“Dogs get temperamental when they get older. But there’s a lot of reasons the dog could have bit. It could be a smell, it could be a feeling,” she said. “Clearly its animal instinct kicked in.”
As police and animal control officers continue their search, Juhlin is in for a grueling recovery.
Stitches inside his mouth have made it impossible to eat solid food, leaving him to soft foods like jello and soup, his mother said.
“I can’t even open my mouth,” Juhlin said during an interview Monday. “I have to use a straw to drink.”
Doctors gave him antibiotics and painkillers, and said to return in 7-10 days.
Officials were still trying to piece together what happened Monday.
“This particular incident was weird,” de la Fuente said. He said it’s important to gauge a dog’s mood – whether its tail is wagging, or is between its legs, for example – before approaching. “But the victim is used to dealing with animals, and still got bit,” he added.
“You can never tell. It’s an animal.”
Wilson said it’s important to contact the authorities to report any unknown dog roaming off-leash.
“If they’re unsure of the dog, call the police department right away,” she said.
As for Juhlin, he said he was in shock after the incident, but he did manage to make one phone call on the way to the hospital: to his mother.
“I told her, ‘don’t freak out,” he said.
He said he is feeling a little better each day, and the swelling has subsided a bit. But speaking is still a chore.
“My mouth gets numb,” he said. “I try to refrain from talking a lot.”