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Unleashed Dog attacks Olympic Trials Qualifier

Her injuries require 21 stitches. Warning: the pictures are graphic.

Olympic Trials Qualifier Caitlin Keen was out running on the Trinity Trails system in Fort Worth, Texas, last weekend when she was attacked by a dog. Keen says the dog appeared out of nowhere, sprinted toward her, leapt up, and bit her arm. She shook it off and kept running, but the dog bit into her back and pulled her to the ground.

She kicked at the dog until a woman, who was also on a run, picked up a large rock and scared the dog away. The dog was eventually subdued and caught by the collar by a man walking his own two dogs that were leashed. The dog that attacked Keen became calm and friendly with the man’s dogs.

The dog, a pit bull mix whose name is Taco, was up-to-date on its rabies vaccines and is currently in city-mandated quarantine. Taco belongs to a local homeless woman who was not present during the attack.

Keen was taken to the hospital in the ambulance with gaping wounds that required 21 stitches.

This isn’t the first time that Keen has made headlines.

At the 2017 Dallas Marathon, Keen finished second after the first-place runner staggered across the finish line assisted by a pedestrian. Keen refused to challenge the results, despite pressure from other runners who criticized the winner for receiving help.

We reached out to Keen to hear her thoughts on the situation.

BRO: How long have you been running at that park?

KEEN: I have been running outside at this particular park since 2006, since I was 14 years old. I have always felt safe out on the trails and have never had a close encounter to not feel safe.

BRO: What were some things going through your head during the attack?

KEEN: During the attack, I was thinking how scared I was that it wasn’t going to let me live. I didn’t know what this dog wanted, and I didn’t know how to handle it. All I wanted was to get away and for someone to show up to help me because I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.

BRO: How did you feel when you saw the dog calm down after it attacked you?

KEEN: I was scared. I thought the dog was going to start attacking the other dogs that were being walked by a witness, but it didn’t. It made me wonder, “Why me?” Why was I just running one moment and the next I was being taken down by a dog?

BRO: Do you feel safe to run outside or at the park?

KEEN: I haven’t run since the attack, and I am not allowed to run or drive for at least another week. I know that I will run back at the trail again, but I know that it will take me some time to recover.

BRO: What are some ways that runners and dog owners can work together to be safer in shared spaces?

KEEN: I think that dogs should be kept on a leash if it is not a designated “off-leash area.” Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dog controlled, and runners have a responsibility to stay clear of these areas if they are not comfortable with dogs. We can all work together by putting ourselves into each others’ shoes and thinking about what it would feel like if you had to suffer the consequences of an irresponsible dog owner.

BRO: You mentioned that you have received a lot of hate from this incident. Is there anything you would like to say on your behalf?

KEEN: If there was anything I could have done to not get attacked, I would have done it. I went from having one of the best long runs I had run all training cycle to being dragged to the ground fighting for my life in a matter of seconds. I didn’t provoke anything, I was simply running fast. I looked at my watch, and when I looked up, a dog was lunging for me.

This is not a fight against breed, animals, or their owners. This is a story about awareness, safety, and having to overcome things that happen to us that we don’t have control over.

BRO: Do you feel changed at all from this?

KEEN: I currently feel very lucky to be alive. Previously, I used to let all the little things bother me. Now I have a much different outlook and perspective on what matters and what is a waste of energy.

BRO: What do you want people’s biggest takeaway to be?

KEEN: Sometimes really unfortunate things just happen. And they suck. And we can’t control the fact that it happens, but we can control how we handle ourselves and our reaction. I am choosing to use this to make me stronger. I survived for a reason. I plan on figuring out why.

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