Grandfather asleep during fatal dog attack
Ervin Patterson got a 1-year-old Rottweiller named Kobe three weeks ago from a co-worker who couldn't afford to keep it and assured him it was friendly.
"She said it was good with kids. She had two kids herself," he said.
But the dog killed Patterson's 16-month-old grandson Sunday evening out in the yard of Patterson's house in Kings Creek. No one is quite sure how it happened.
Patterson's daughter Shernita Patterson of Penley Court NW in Lenoir dropped off her two sons -- Christopher Mincer, 5, and Nyhiem King Tayo Wilfong, 16 months -- with Ervin Patterson and his mother, Shirley Patterson, earlier in the day while she went to look for a job. That evening, shortly before 8 p.m., Shirley Patterson was washing dishes and Ervin Patterson was napping while the children played outside. Shirley Patterson said she thought the children were on a swingset, about 60 feet away from where the 120-pound Rottweiler was chained to a post.
But then Ervin Patterson woke to Christopher's frantic cries. "Papa, the dog's on the baby!" he said he heard the boy yell.
Ervin Patterson ran outside and pulled the boy from the dog.
"I tried to do CPR," he said. "I tried to do all I could to save him. I had him breathing for a little bit, but he stopped. I called 911."
As they waited for an ambulance, Shirley Patterson took the boy to a bathroom to wash the blood from his face and body, and that hinted at how badly he was hurt.
"There was a terrible gash on his head," she said. "The doctor said the dog had snapped his neck."
Wilfong was pronounced dead after being taken by ambulance to Caldwell Memorial Hospital.
Greg Greene, director of Caldwell County Animal Control, said, "In my 12 years here at animal control, this was the most severe animal attack I've seen."
Greene said the Rottweiler is not an inherently aggressive breed of dog. This dog may have attacked, or it may have thought it was playing, he said.
"Any animal has a tendency to attack, depending on how it's raised," Greene said. "Don't blame it on the breed at all."
Ervin Patterson, who also has two pit bulldogs penned on his property, said he thinks the dog didn't mean to hurt his grandson.
"He's big and playful," he said. "I just think the dog thought he was just playing with Nyhiem."
The Department of Social Services, the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office and animal control are investigating the circumstances of the boy's death. The district attorney's office will determine whether any charges should be filed.
Whether it was an attack or play that got out of hand, it will cost Kobe his freedom, if not his life. If Patterson wants to keep the dog, it must be kept in a pen at all times except when taken to veterinary appointments, and must be micro-chipped and neutered. If Patterson doesn't keep it, the dog will be killed, Greene said.
The dog's fate was not at the forefront of Patterson's mind Monday.
"I don't know what else to say," he said. "This just hurts so bad."