Woman injured in attack by pit bulls
A Chase City area woman was in critical condition on Monday after being airlifted to VCU Medical Center in Richmond Saturday evening after being attacked by a pair of pit bulls in the 7700 block of Trottinridge Road, Skipwith.
Michelle Thomas remained hospitalized in Richmond at press time for treatment of serious injuries.
According to reports from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, Dep. Joey Grube responded to a residence on Trottinridge Road for a reported dog bite. He arrived to find the victim being loaded onto a rescue unit.
At the scene, Grube spoke to a motorist who reportedly drove past and saw two dogs attacking the woman. The motorist stopped his truck, got out of the vehicle and fired his gun into the air to scare off the animals. He also watched the dogs, noting which residence they returned to.
Members of the Chase City Rescue Squad were quickly dispatched to the scene and called for emergency helicopter transport for the patient, who was said to be suffering from severe injuries sustained in the attack.
An investigation into the incident is being conducted by Mecklenburg County Chief Animal Control Officer Doug Blanton.
On Monday, Lisa Kurzawa, a family friend, identified the victim as Michelle Thomas, who, with her family, lives approximately seven houses from the site where the attack took place. At the time of the attack on Saturday night, said Kurzawa, Thomas was walking along Trottinridge Road with her 7-year-old son, picking up trash as part of a Cub Scout project.
Kurzawa said that it was her understanding that the dogs had suddenly appeared and began barking at Thomas and her son before coming across the road after them.
“From what the son tells me, the dogs came out to the property line and started barking,” said Kurzawa. “Then they came across the street and started trying to bite them. They started going after the child first, I think.”
She said Thomas, who has been recovering from knee surgery, was knocked into a ditch, where the dogs started attacking. Thomas, she said, screamed for her son to run.
The 7-year-old, according to Kurzawa, escaped and suffered only minor scratches.
Thomas, said Kureawa, was already suffering from health problems prior to the attack, including the loss of sight in one eye and recent surgery. She received massive injuries to the face during the attack, requiring more than 200 stitches. Of serious concern were severe wounds around her good eye. Thomas also suffered severe bites to the hand, causing severe laceration, several fractured bones as well as muscle and tendon damage.
Speaking on Monday afternoon, Blanton said that he had arrived at the scene after the victim was loaded by rescue workers and was unable to speak with her. He did, however, say that he had spoken with the passerby who scared the dogs off.
“He said he saw the dogs on her and got out of his truck and fired the gun in the air and the dogs ran off,” Blanton said. “He saw where they went and gave us the information. I went to the owner, and I picked the dogs up.”
The dogs, identified as two pit pulls, are currently being held by the Mecklenburg Animal Control Office.
“As soon as I talk with the victim and hear her side, I’ll decide what charges will be brought,” Blanton said. “Charges will be brought, either vicious or dangerous. They’re two different charges.”
Blanton added that he has never had complaints on these dogs previously. “I’ve never had any dealings with these dogs before,” he said. “I’ll present the evidence to the judge, and ultimately it will be his decision.”
Blanton did say that the injuries sustained by the victim made this one of the most severe dog attack cases he has seen.
Late on Monday night, Kurzawa notified The News-Progress that Thomas had undergone seven hours of surgery on her arm and hand on Monday. The prognosis for her arm, said Kurzawa, is “uncertain.”
Kurzawa added that on a positive note, doctors reported that her eyesight was not affected in the attack and that Thomas is responsive and “in good spirits.”
It remains unclear how long Thomas will remain in the hospital for care of her wounds.
A page on gofundme.com has been set up online to help the Thomas family cover medical and other expenses. The page can be visited at http://gofundme.com/woman-attacked-by-2-pitbulls.