Dog bite victim recovering

Published 6:03 am Thursday, February 19, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- After suffering a severe dog attack last week, a Niles woman Melva Wheeler, 82, is still receiving treatment at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
On Feb. 9, the Niles City Police Department was dispatched to 925 S. 14th St. on a priority call of an elderly female that had apparently slipped and fallen.
Upon arrival, police found Wheeler unconscious at the bottom of the steps.
She was discovered by her sons Donald and Ronald Wheeler when they came to check on her after attempting to contact her several times by phone during the morning hours.
Donald Wheeler said he and his brother frequently call to check up on their mother and the two knew something was wrong after getting no response.
He said when they discovered her unconscious at the back of the house, they first suspected she may be dead.
He estimated his mother was lying outside for about five and half hours before she was discovered.
The ice was melted where her head was lying and her body temperature was 83 degrees when she was finally transported to the hospital, Wheeler said.
He said it has been a tough week and that he didn't know if his mother was going to survive the injuries for the first four days.
He said she has been moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a regular hospital room and could be in the South Bend hospital for another week or so. He said the injuries on her face have required the hospital to use plastic surgery.
According to a press release from the Niles City Police, Wheeler had regained consciousness soon after the attack and told nurses she had been attacked by a neighborhood dog.
The police report indicates that a nurse at Memorial Hospital stated all of Wheeler's injuries resulted from dog bites.
The nurse said that Wheeler had sustained a fractured left forearm and approximately 30 puncture wounds and lacerations on hers arms and face. The worst of which was a laceration on her face that ran from the middle of her forehead down her nose and into her left cheek. The injury required approximately 60 stitches.
The police report also indicated that an officer went to the hospital in an attempt to interview Wheeler. She was very weak and it was difficult for her to answer many questions.
When asked if she remembered what happened, she replied that she went outside to walk her dog, when she saw a dog coming toward her and her dog.
The officer had the nurse remove the dressings, so they could photograph all of the injuries on her arms and face.
Niles City Police Captain Jim Merriman said they are working to determine the animal responsible for the attack.
The police report indicated that police had talked to neighbors who owned a Rottweiler.
The Rottweiler has since been ruled out because of the comparison between the wounds and the size of the dog's teeth.