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

Oct 20, 2022, 10:34 PM | Updated: Oct 21, 2022, 11:36 am

SANDY, Utah — There are physical wounds — and then are the emotional ones.

Mason Mihlberger, just 5, survived a dog mauling that sent him by helicopter to a hospital.

“I almost died because he bit me in the cheek,” Mason told KSL TV. “He was dragging me all around, but my mom and dad came.”

Child survives dog attack Child injured in dog attack A Sandy, Utah child survived a dog attack but required hundreds of stitches

“If me and my husband weren’t there, 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 riding his bike to his friend’s house when he was attacked by a husky. His mother and father — and neighbors — heard the screams. Tori Mihlberger said she kicked the dog several times to get to the badly injured Mason.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. All I can think about is looking down the road and seeing him look up at me and reaching out to me as if saying ‘help me mom’ and the dog not letting go.”

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

“They had to stitch his face in layers; every layer of the tissue has a layer of stitches,” Tori Mihlberger said. She also said a skin graft was required for his badly damaged ear.

Mason said he feels brave for how he handled the attack, though he was afraid he would fall out of the medical helicopter.

“I punched him in the face as hard as I can,” he said. “It was good that I smashed him on the freaking road.”

His mother said Mason loves animals and would not do anything to provoke the attack.

“His eyes were locked on Mason…As I came up the dog was dragging him across the road, just throwing 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 it yelped and backed away so she picked up her son. She said the animal kept following them, trying to corner her husband and nipping at Mason. They had to grab the dog, get on top of it and hold it down with a knee on its throat. It had a collar but no tags.

With between 2,000 and 3,000 stitches, and more surgery in the months ahead, Mason has a long road to recovery, but he is home. Neighbors, some of whom ran to help when they heard the screams, tied green ribbons on the trees in his yard. That’s his favorite color.

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

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

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


*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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