Dogs attacked victim in October
The mauling of a Lenoir woman by two dogs Christmas Eve was not the first time the large animals have attacked.
According to Greg Greene, Caldwell County Animal Control director, a resident at Cameron Village was bitten by the two dogs, owned by David Burney in October. Fran Nelson, president of the condominiums’ homeowner’s association, said the dogs, a Boxer and English bulldog, dragged a female resident into the pond behind the units and mangled her arm. The dogs were quarantined for 10 days and returned to the owner under the condition the dogs be kept in a kennel with a concrete pad and fencing. They were not deemed dangerous at the time, according to Greene.
On Monday, a similar incident sent another resident, Debra Joan Vanderboegh, to Carolinas Medical Center with traumatic injuries to her right forearm.
“It was bad, clean to the bone,” wrote Lenoir Police Officer C.A. Wilson in an incident report.
Police were called to Linkside Court shortly after 11 a.m., Monday by a resident who saw the two dogs attacking Vanderboegh, Burney’s girlfriend, in a field about 120 yards from the condo units.
“I had just come out of the shower and heard screams,” said Jennifer Witherspoon, who lives two doors down from Burney, who was not at home at the time of the attack. “I thought it was just children, but when I looked out, I saw them attacking her. I thought, oh my God, it’s the dogs, they’ve got somebody.”
Jennifer’s daughter Addison, 22, called 911, while she and another daughter, 25-year-old Chelsea, ran to the screams. Jennifer grabbed a machete and broom handle. One of the dogs broke the metal broom handle in half. Another neighbor, Mack Dixon, grabbed a surveyor’s stake. All three came at the dogs, which had grabbed Vanderboegh by the arm and leg.
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“They were foaming at the mouth,” Jennifer said. “It seemed like it lasted forever. She had a gaping wound, a hole in her arm to the bone. Her pants were ripped completely off. I thought, is this really happening? Are we really going to get mauled on Christmas Eve?”
Animal Control was dispatched and took possession of the dogs. This time, the dogs will be euthanized at the request of Burney, according to Greene.
What puzzles Nelson is why the dogs were not put down in October.
“I was surprised they let these dogs free after 10 days,” she said. “We’re all scared to walk outside. These dogs will scare you to death.”
Animal Control is bound by state law, which states that if the animals are under the control of the owner or a designated caretaker, he or she must request to have the animals euthanized. In both cases, the dogs were in the hands of a caretaker, who were walking the dogs. On Monday, the dogs were unleashed and roaming free — but technically still on the owner’s property.
“It’s a case by case basis as to what we can do,” Greene said. “We try to push for more stringent laws, but we can only try and make county ordinances stricter.”
Nelson says she is going to hold an emergency meeting of the complex’s homeowners. She hopes to have new bylaws in place that would limit pets to a certain size. The two dogs weighed between 60-80 pounds, Greene said.
“These (condos) are not equipped to have animals this size living here,” Nelson said.
Jennifer grew up on a farm with dogs. She knows how unpredictable a large dog can be, given the right circumstances.
“I want people to understand, you can’t assume how a pet is going to act,” she cautions. “It can be dangerous and terrifying. Connor is terrified of dogs now.”
Vanderboegh was listed in good condition on Thursday. Efforts to contact Burney were unsuccessful.