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‘I’m grateful to be alive’: Victim recalls harrowing dog attack in Doña Ana County

DOÑA ANA COUNTY, New Mexico - A late January dog mauling in east Doña Ana County left a man seriously injured just days after another man died following a separate dog attack.

"I'm grateful to be alive," Mario Cepeda told ABC-7 after he was discharged from University Medical Center. "I was fighting as hard as I could, but seven dogs?! Forget about it."

This attack happened on Outback Drive in Organ, east of Las Cruces, on January 29th, according to an incident report obtained by ABC-7.

Cepeda said he was visiting his brother at the time.

“I started blacking out and little by little, that’s when I started saying, 'Lord, you’re going to have to help me,'" Cepeda recalled. "'Because I don’t think it’s my time to die.'”

According to the incident report, there were multiple stray dogs on his brother's property that day.

"There have been some wild dogs around here that have came through here," David Cepeda told ABC-7. He said he did not believe they were his dogs.

Cepeda estimates his medical bills will be in the hundreds of thousands. Click here to donate to help his recovery.

He said the trauma is not just physical, it's mental.

"My sister turned on the television and there was a puppy on the screen and I flinched," he said.

"For whatever reason, these dogs were hysterical enough that they pursued him on that day," Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart told ABC-7.

Just two days earlier, two dogs attacked a man in Fairacres, west of Las Cruces. He died after the attack, but the sheriff said the dog bites alone "were not significant enough" to cause the man's death.

Heriberto Pérez-Lara contributed to this report.

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is a former ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and weekend evening newscast anchor.

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Lesley Engle

Tom Scott

Tom Scott is ABC-7’s news operations manager for our New Mexico mobile newsroom.


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