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Honorary Alaska mayor clawing his way back to health after vicious dog attack

July 16, 2012: Mayor Stubbs holds a special place in the hearts of residents as the long-time "mayor" of Talkeetna, Alaska. Jason Limb of NBC station KTUU of Anchorage profiled Stubbs last year.

The mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, was out of surgery Wednesday and is expected to survive after being attacked by a large dog over the weekend and suffering serious internal injuries.

Mayor Stubbs, 16 — whose title is honorary and who, by the way, is a cat — was heavily sedated after three hours of surgery for a punctured lung and a crushed sternum.

"Right now, they really have him very heavily sedated, because he's in so much pain," his owner, Lauri Stec, told NBC station KTUU of Anchorage.

Stec told The Anchorage Daily News that she hopes to visit Stubbs at Big Lake-Susitna Veterinary Hospital, about 70 miles away near Wasilla, on Thursday.

The mayor, whose honorary title was bestowed as a joke shortly after his birth in 1997, was walking around town when an irate canine constituent charged him about 11 p.m. Saturday (3 a.m. Sunday ET).

The suspect was still at large on Wednesday, described only as a "mean" and "large" local dog.

Stec told the Anchorage paper that Stubbs limped away to safety, setting off a search for him across the town of about 850 people in Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

"People were looking around with headlights and flashlights. Everybody was pretty upset," Stec told the paper. "All I could think was 'I can't let him die out here in the rain.'"

Stec was accepting donations to defray the mayor's medical expenses at Nagley's General Store, where she's the manager.