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Action taken to euthanize attacker dogs

SoVaNow.com / May 17, 2017
Three months after a Skipwith woman was mauled by two pit bulls in an unprovoked attack, court action has been initiated to have the dogs euthanized.

Mecklenburg County Dog Warden Doug Blanton is asking a General District Court judge to declare as vicious the two dogs that attacked Michelle Thomas on Jan. 28. The Trottinridge Road resident was left with severe injuries and may have to undergo amputation as a result of the attack. A judge’s order declaring that the pit bulls are vicious animals is required before animal control can go forward with euthanasia.

The matter is set for a June 6 hearing in Mecklenburg County General District Court in Boydton.

Thus far, the name of the owner or owners of the dogs has not been publicly disclosed, but that could change now that legal proceedings have commenced.

Blanton said he also will ask the court to order that monetary restitution be paid to Thomas to reimburse her for medical and other expenses tied to the attack, and he is further seeking reimbursement of costs expended by animal control officers while the dogs have been in the county’s custody.

The dogs have been housed at the Mecklenburg County Animal Control facility since the day of the attack, Jan. 28.

Blanton said Mecklenburg County does not have a leash law, and there is no requirement that dog owners fence in their property. However, the owner of any dog that bites, attacks, or inflicts injury on a person (serious or otherwise), and where the attack happens off the property of the attacking or biting dog’s owner or custodian, can be penalized for having a dangerous or vicious dog.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Nash added that this matter is a civil court action, not a criminal matter.

Michelle Thomas and her seven-year-old son were picking up trash in the 7000 block of Trottinridge Road around 4 p.m. on Saturday, for a Cub Scout project when the dogs sprinted across the road and attacked mother and child. She was knocked into a ditch by the dogs as they began to tear at her clothes and limbs.

Thomas’ son was ordered to run home by his mother, preventing him from being injured as well.

Thomas’ landlord, Norman D. Wagstaff Jr., happened upon the assault and was able to scare the dogs away by firing a gun into the air. He then called 911 for assistance. Shortly thereafter, a family friend, Heather McKinney, happened upon the scene. She applied pressure to Thomas’ wounds to stem the flow of blood as they waited for EMS to arrive.

The attack left Thomas with broken bones in her arms and legs, severe damage to her arm and hand, which may require amputation, a punctured eye — the only one in which she has vision — and lacerations to her face, legs, and arms. She has more than 200 stitches in her face where doctors reattached her cheek, and as of Monday afternoon, had undergone more four surgeries in an attempt to save her arm and hand.

Thomas was life-flighted to MCV Hospital in Richmond following the attack.

Since then, Thomas has been in and out of the hospital undergoing multiple surgeries to repair her wounds, and is facing additional ones in the coming months.

Immediately after the attack, friends created a GoFundMe page for the Thomas family and raised just over $5,900.

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