pit bull
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
December 2, 2023 ·  6 min read

I slept with my beloved pit bull — until he tried to eat me alive

Most pet owners could never imagine their very own pets turning on them, especially dog owners. Dogs are known to be loyal and protective of their owners. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. This Texas woman sadly had that experience when her adopted pit bull, who she’d had for two years, nearly tore off her arm and killed her.

I slept with my pit bull until he tried to eat me alive

41-year-old Tya Lucas and her 20-year-old daughter Tana found their pit bull Hercules abandoned at the side of the road covered in cigarette burns two years prior. They rescued him and took him in as their own. He was always loving and gentle –  he even often slept in bed with Tya, including the night before the attack. (1)

Tya was at home, and her friend Peter had come over to meet her new puppy, Roo. She explained that the puppy went to jump up onto the couch, so she went over to the couch to pick the puppy up. Her friend Peter, at the same time, told the puppy to get down. All of the sudden, Hercules lunged at Peter, sinking his teeth into Peter’s neck. That’s when Tya stepped in to try and pull her dog away. She pulled Hercules off of him and pushed him into the bathroom, away from harm. That’s when Hercules, however, then turned on her.

“He must have smelled [Peter’s] blood all over me and started attacking me. I don’t remember a lot of it. I remember looking down and my flesh being torn off my arm,” she recalled. “I don’t remember the feeling of it, I remember screaming, ‘Hercules, it’s me.’ ”

Tya Lucas
Tya Lucas. Image Credit: Tya Lucas | GoFundMe

Major Damage Done

The 100-pound pit bull, however, was in a craze. Hercules nearly tore off two-thirds of Tya’s right arm, ate her bicep, and bit her leg and foot. She screamed “help me, I’m dying” when her daughter and her daughter’s husband Harley arrived.

“[Tana] saw the dog was trying to kill me. She reached out her hand to me and I tried to grab it but I missed her by inches,” Tya said. “It grabbed onto my leg and dragged me further away. Her husband walked in and he beat the dog off of me. I don’t remember that part. I don’t know if I was passing out.”

Harley then dragged Tya outside while Tana called 911. Officer Jordan Potter was the first to arrive on the scene. Officer Potter jumped in to perform some emergency procedures which ended up saving Tya’s life.

Tya Lucas's severly injured arm from a pit bull attack
Lucas’s injured arm. Image Credit: Tya Lucas | GoFundMe

“They put a tourniquet on my arm and the doctor said if he hadn’t been there to do that at that exact moment, then I wouldn’t have made it until the ambulance got there.” she explained.

She has since had hundreds of stitches and six different operations to cut away dead skin and repair her muscles. Animal control came to collect Hercules, who they had to put down because of the aggression. Her daughter has since set up a GoFundMe account to help cover all of her mother’s medical expenses. Tana says that she was never afraid of dogs, but now is terrified of them.

“My arm bends a couple of inches but it’s stiff. My hand is really swollen, my wrist doesn’t move, there’s 15 inches of nerves damaged, my nerves and tendons were crushed,” she described. “For each inch that was damaged, it takes a month to come back. My wrist hangs there, I don’t have much use of my hand. I had staples in my leg and under my foot. I’m in constant pain.”

Read: Rescue Dog With Autoimmune Disease Proves Beauty Comes From Within

Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?

Pit Bulls weren’t always these big, scary dogs with a bad reputation. In fact, they were quite the opposite. Famous people such as Helen Keller and President Teddy Roosevelt all had pit bulls. They were known as great family pets because they are so good with people. (2)

Pit bulls, however, were bred as bear and bull-baiting dogs, as well as work dogs because they are very strong with incredible tenacity. It was later in the 1990s, however, that the wrong kind of people were attracted to the strong breed. People began training them to be ring-fighting dogs. These people then subjected the dogs to horrible abuse. 

Jim Gorant is a Sports Illustrated editor and author of The Lost Dogs. The book is about the dogs of the infamous dog-fighting operation run by former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The defamed NFL player spent two years in federal prison for the offense. He says that Pit Bulls are not aggressive by nature, but rather have been mishandled and fall in a trap of being owned by people who are attracted to their strength and size rather than their good qualities.

“Every dog is an individual,” Gorant says. “Pit bulls are just dogs and if they are not raised properly and socialized and treated right, they can have behavior problems. But they aren’t any more problematic than any other breed by nature.”

Myths About Pit Bulls

Pit bulls, like other terriers, are more likely to grab ahold of something and shake it. They don’t, however, have the “lock jaw” that people claim that they have. Experts say that Pit Bulls also do not have a high pain threshold like people say, only that they tend to ignore it more when agitated. These experts also say that they are no more likely to turn on their owners than any other breed. (3)

Experts also agree that Pit Bulls are not more aggressive than other breeds. As already mentioned, they have constantly been mishandled and be in the care of the wrong people, who want to use them for the wrong thing. This means that we are now dealing with traumatized, abused dogs who happen to be quite strong. (4)

Think about this: How often have you come across a small dog breed that is aggressive and unfriendly? The thing is, that small dog can’t do the same damage as a larger dog due to its size. So when looking at statistics that talk about how many people a dog has badly bitten or even fatally attacked, it will naturally fall on large dog breeds. Chances are, a chihuahua won’t have the same luck attacking a person than a Pit Bull or another large dog breed.

They Must Be Trained And Well-Handled

Pit Bulls require knowledgeable owners who understand how to teach, control, and handle the breed. This goes regardless of whether or not their dog is a rescue or if they’ve had the dog since it was a puppy. Pit Bull owners also must be confident in knowing their dog and whether or not it is reactive towards other dogs or people. If you have a reactive dog, for example, a dog park is not the place for it. Likely not allowing people to pet your dog is another way to avoid potentially aggravating situations.

Train your dog well and learn your dog’s tendencies, likes and dislikes, and body language, and you will have a loving family pet. That goes for any breed. 

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  1. I slept with my beloved pit bull — until he tried to eat me alive.” NY Post. Adriana Diaz. July 19, 2022.
  2. Pit Bulls: What’s Hype, What’s Not.” WebMD. Pamela Babcock
  3. The Most Feared Dogs May Also Be the Most Misunderstood.” National Geographic. Simon Worrall. July 3, 2016.
  4. 25 Myths About Pit Bulls You Should Stop Believing.” Newsweek. Woo Kim. February 6, 2021.