Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.
The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.
As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”
It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.
According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.
It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.
She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”
Wilson did everything she could to release Eva from the cat’s grasp. She told The Sacramento Bee that she threw rocks, tried choking it and gouging its eyes. But no luck. It wasn’t until she received help from a passing motorist, Sharon Houston, who had a PVC pipe and some pepper spray that the situation improved. The pair were finally able to get the mountain lion to let go, but not before it dragged poor Eva along the path trying to escape. She was quickly rushed to the vet.
Wilson’s beloved canine companion was in life-threatening trouble. Wilson’s husband, Connor Kenny, told SFGATE that Eva had suffered two skull fractures, a punctured sinus cavity, severe damage to her left eye and experienced seizures. The pup’s situation was dire.
To help cover the medical expenses, Wilson created a GoFundMe account and was soon surprised by the outpouring of love and support the public had for her heroic Malinois. The fundraiser gathered more than $30,000, well exceeding what the family needed.
And luckily, Eva never lost her fighting spirit. As was posted on her own Instagram account, Eva recovered, returning home to her sister Mishka (and to new toys, no less).
She even got a milkshake on the way home. And Wilson shared with The Sacramento Bee that there's going to be more treats where that came from, "stuffies" shall be chewed and steak dinners shall be had.
Eva might technically be a Belgian Malinois, but her true breed is hero. Her fierce determination, loyalty to her loved ones and unbridled courage came out in full force. Because of her, a life was saved. She is, without a doubt, the goodest girl.
Every time a school shooting happens, the idea of arming teachers and school administrators gets floated out by folks who believe the NRA mantra, "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." That notion is so ingrained in parts of the American psyche that a common response to repeated mass shootings of schoolchildren in their classrooms is to add more guns to the equation.
I understand the argument being made. If someone already on the scene was armed and prepared to respond to an active shooter without having to wait for law enforcement, perhaps a maniacal killer could be stopped sooner. And if maniacal killers knew that teachers and administrators were likely to be armed, perhaps they wouldn't target schools as much. I get the seeming logic of the idea. I really do.
However, there are several fatal flaws with the argument, starting with the fact that the data simply does not back it up.
According to a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open in 2021, there were armed guards present at 23.5% of school shootings from 1980 to 2019. In their analysis, the study authors found that "armed guards were not associated with significant reduction in rates of injuries; in fact, controlling for the aforementioned factors of location and school characteristics, the rate of deaths was 2.83 times greater in schools with an armed guard present."
In other words, having armed guards standing at the ready doesn't actually help like people think it does. There was an armed guard who was a former police officer in the Buffalo shooting earlier this month—he was was able to get one shot off and then was killed by the gunman. According to Texas Public Radio, the Uvalde gunman was engaged by law enforcement before entering the school—that didn't stop him from killing 19 children and two teachers.
And we're talking about security guards and police officers, whose entire job is to look for and respond to danger. If their "good guy with a gun" presence doesn't help, why do we think putting guns in the hands of teachers would help?
I've been a teacher in a classroom. Teachers are already thinking about and juggling a dozen different things at any given moment. It's already insane that we expect teachers to drop what they're doing to run stressful, sometimes traumatizing active shooter drills. The idea of having to switch gears from dividing fractions or analyzing poetry to becoming a trained marksperson when you're also trying to wrangle a couple of dozen kids in a terrifying and chaotic situation is utter lunacy.
Even trained police officers only have an 18% accuracy rate in high-stress shootout situations. And they are constantly preparing for it. Are we really going to add onto the workload of school personnel by expecting them to be able to take out a gunman that law enforcement often struggles to subdue?
Come on, now. Let's be reasonable.
\u201cI am a teacher. \nI'm also a 20 year retired National Guard veteran with two overseas tours. I've fired nearly every firearm in the U.S. Army.\nI would be the ideal candidate for this "arming teachers" solution. \nAnd I'm also the 1st person to tell you it would be a massive mistake\u201d— Jeremy Kasperson (@Jeremy Kasperson) 1653487851
The Harvard Injury Control Resource Center has found that, across the board, more guns = more gun deaths. Even just having a gun in the house increases a person's risk of dying by gun homicide, as well as dying by suicide.
Now let's imagine putting guns in schools and classrooms, strapped onto teachers and administrators. There is no way that makes kids safer. There's just no way.
I'm 5 feet 5 inches and 130 pounds. One average high schooler could overpower me in five seconds. Against two kids, I wouldn't stand a chance. How many incidents of kids taking guns from teachers would we see if teachers were carrying? How many incidents of teachers shooting their own students to prevent them from taking their gun would we see? How many more kids would be traumatized by witnessing such scenarios?
What if a teacher loses it in an altercation with a student? What if an armed adult accidentally shoots inside a school (it's happened, in California and Virginia). What if a teacher takes off their gun to go to the bathroom and forgets about it? (That's also happened in Pennsylvania and Florida—at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, of all places.)
And the idea of armed teachers being a deterrent? How many active shooters, who are often on a suicide mission anyway, would be deterred by the possibility of school personnel being armed? If 23.5% weren't deterred by armed security guards, why would they be daunted by an armed teacher?
And we haven't even gotten into what happens when law enforcement arrives and gets confused about who the good guys with guns are and who the bad guys with guns are.
If we really want to claim "greatness" as a nation and imagine that we hold any standing in the world as a beacon of freedom, we can't turn schools into armed fortresses. No other developed nation has to do that. In no other developed nation are guns the No. 1 cause of death for children and teens. No other nation, developed or developing, has more guns than people.
We can talk all day long about mental illness and poor parenting and lack of moral compass, but every other country has those issues too. What they don't have is easy, ubiquitous access to obscene numbers of guns and a culture that celebrates guns as symbols of freedom.
When guns are the leading cause of death for American children, they don't mean freedom. When our babies can't sit in a classroom without fearing for their lives, they are not free. The gun nuts can rant about tyranny all they want, but regular school shootings are not the price we have to pay for freedom.
In fact, the opposite is true. Freedom is literally the price we are paying to keep the gun lobby happy and politicians' pockets lined. It's long past time we recognized it and it's certainly time to do something meaningful about it.
This story originally appeared on 12.15.21
Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.
You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.
And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.
The trauma of any school shooting is hard to imagine, but the Sandy Hook massacre was in a league of its own. These were first graders. Twenty babies, shot and killed in a matter of minutes. Six educators who tried to protect them.
That was nine years ago. Now the kids that survived Sandy Hook are in high school, and some of them are opening up about their experiences. Their voices deserve to be heard.
In February of this year, Sandy Hook survivor Ashley shared her story with NowThis News. Some of the scenario above was taken from her account:
Ashley was 7 when she went through the trauma of Sandy Hook. She said she has experienced survivor's guilt and the pain of people claiming that the shooting was a hoax. "I can’t give you proof except for my trauma," she said.
Another Sandy Hook survivor, Maggie LaBlanca, shared her story at this year's National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence last week. Her best friend, Daniel, was killed in the shooting.
"It's been almost nine years since I endured that day. Everything has stayed with me so clearly," she said. "The trauma never went away, and I still feel sad all the time that I'm here and they're not. I look for Daniel everywhere because it's hard to accept that I lost him."
We mourn those who are killed in school shootings and focus on the numbers of deaths, but the survivors deserve just as much of our thought and emotion. It's traumatic for anyone to have a loved one murdered or to witness someone being killed in front of them. In the worst scenarios, both of those things happen at the same time. And when it's children who are the witnesses, that's just a tragedy none of us should accept as normal.
This TikTok video from a Sandy Hook survivor sums it up succinctly.
At the time, we thought Sandy Hook had to be the last straw. We thought surely 6-year-olds shot and killed in their classrooms would change things. Our lawmakers would surely unite to take action—to do something, anything—to try to prevent this kind of thing from happening. People pleaded. Activists organized. And our laws have barely budged, especially at the federal level, where they have the greatest chance of actually being effective.
It doesn't have to be this way. Most Americans agree on some very basic gun legislation. A 2019 poll reported by Politico showed that 70% of Americans support banning assault weapons, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Also in 2019, a National Public Radio (NPR), PBS NewsHour and Maris College poll found that 83% of Americans want Congress to pass legislation requiring background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or via other private sales.
Why wouldn't we want to make it harder for abusers or people with a history of violent or threatening behavior to get firearms? Why wouldn't we want to make it harder for troubled teens to get a hold of guns in their household?
Gun rights activists will argue that no law will prevent all shootings, which is true. The U.S. has far too many guns in circulation to curb all gun violence. But some will prevent some, and some is better than none, especially when we're raising generations of kids who have to practice what to do if a gunman starts shooting up their school.
What we have now is not normal. It's not freedom. It's a tragic embarrassment and a stain on our nation—one that we don't have to accept without a fight. We owe these kids at least that much.