Probe in dog attack still under way

First Posted: 9/26/2009

A 5-year-old Surry County boy was in serious but stable condition Saturday evening, little more than 24 hours after he was mauled by five Rottweilers.
The child, whose name has not been released by authorities, was attacked by the dogs after he made his way into their pen during feeding time around 4:30 p.m. Friday. He was rushed to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center suffering from serious wounds to his head, neck, and torso.
Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson said Saturday evening his office had heard from some of the childs family members who said the boy was in serious condition.
John Shelton, emergency services coordinator for Surry County, said its difficult for law enforcement and EMS agencies to get medical updates once a person is admitted to the hospital, but he understands family members have said they expect the child to recover.
Details about the case were still sketchy Saturday. The sheriff said its unclear how the child managed to get inside the pen, but whether he did so on his own or was invited in by an adult isnt necessarily a key to the case.
The core of the question is was the child taken care of properly, if the people watching him were reasonably protecting him, he said Saturday.
Atkinson said Surry County Animal Control was taking the lead on the case, but that agency and his office would compile all available evidence and present that to the district attorney, who will ultimately decide if criminal charges are pursued in the attack.
I hope we can get that to him on Monday, Atkinson said. He added that the timing of concluding the initial investigation is dependent in large part on being able to interview all of the family members and others who might have been at the scene on Hillbilly Road when the attack occurred. The condition of the child will affect how fast that is done, he said.
On Friday Surry County Animal Control Director Bobby Gallimore said more than 20 Rottweilers were kept at the location, some in pens and other on chains. He said his office had responded to several complaints about the dogs, but that he had never seen any indication the dogs were abused or were part of a dog-breeding operation.
When his office responded Friday, the victim had already been moved from the scene by county EMS workers and the dogs were still in their pen. He said the animals were never on the loose outside the pen during the attack.
The five dogs which attacked the boy are being held for a mandatory ten-day quarantine. Afterward Gallimore said its unclear what will happen to them, or any of the other dogs on the property. That will be determined once the probe is finished.
John Peters is the editor of The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1931 or [email protected]

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