Other dog attacks on Grassy Knob Rd. come to light after 12-year-old old mauled in August

Published 10:57 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

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Victims claim Rutherford Co. failed to act


RUTHERFORD COUNTY—Grassy Knob Road in Rutherford County where a Polk County boy was mauled has allegedly been the scene of other attacks, including that of a 48-year-old woman out for a jog who was mauled by a pack of dogs that bit and knocked her to the pavement, leaving her partially blind.

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The woman said her pleas to Rutherford County authorities for help were fruitless.

Another woman said her husband also was bitten by dogs on Grassy Knob Road after the dogs attacked their family pet dog, ripping open the animal’s throat. 

Those alleged incidents came to light after news reports that Hunter Bishop, 12, a 7th-grade Polk County Middle School student, was mauled by a pack of dogs on the road. Bishop has undergone multiple surgeries at Greenville Children’s Hospital with more to come for severe lacerations and injuries on both arms, both legs, his back, neck and face. A relative who asked not to be identified said the boy is improving in the hospital each day but will need more skin grafts.

Bishop left his home for a bike ride and was near 1056 Grassy Knob Road when he was attacked. Rutherford County deputies investigated and determined that no charges were to be filed because the dogs’ owner alleged the boy taunted the dogs and used racial slurs.

Neither of the women who live on Grassy Knob Road would give permission for their names to be used because they fear retaliation. Both said their reports and complaints to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control Services were met with shrugs and excuses.

“On the day of the attack, I was jogging down Grassy Knob. The dogs came out of where a trailer is parked. You could tell they were trained fighting dogs,” said the woman. “They were biting me and when they knocked me down, my head hit the pavement and that detached my retinas.”

The woman, who was training for a triathlon, said neither the Mace she sprayed on the dogs nor her self-defense training were able to save her from the onslaught. “They were everywhere and all over me,” she said.

Out of nowhere, an unidentified Good Samaritan appeared on the road and saw what was happening, she said. He used his car to knock the dogs off, then helped her into his vehicle and took her to her home. She called 911 and went to the hospital.

She suffered 11 puncture wounds and lost her sight in one eye.

In the six months since the attack, she has spent $58,000 out of her own pocket on medical care, much of that on rabies treatments. Despite having a high-level government job with excellent health benefits, rabies shots are not covered. Rabies shots can range from $1,200 to $6,500 each. The dogs also ripped off her diabetic pump.

“My first question when I got home from the hospital was, ‘Where’s the sheriff?’” she said. “I was begging the sheriff’s office to come out to my house to investigate. They refused. They told me Animal Control takes care of that. They said the police won’t come out. Animal Control came to my home. They said they knew all about the dogs and they had actually gone there in the past to vaccinate them for the owner. They were sympathetic towards the dogs and their owner, not me.”

Captain Chris Loveless confirmed that the sheriff’s office was notified of a dog bite on February 6 on Grassy Knob Road.

“As with all dog bites, they are referred to Animal Control for investigation and prosecution, unless it could possibly rise to the level of a felony and we would then be requested to investigate…. There was never an investigation from the Sheriff’s Office conducted on this incident.”

In Rutherford County, dogs are allowed to roam free. No licensing, leashing or fencing is required. Unless a dog has been previously confirmed by the county to be a “dangerous animal,” it cannot be seized. North Carolina animal laws are among the weakest in the nation, and this makes it extremely difficult to prove animal-related felony charges. Polk County’s animal control department is part of the sheriff’s office, but Rutherford County’s animal control is a small stand-alone operation.

Cynthia Edgerton, who lives on Grassy Knob Road, posted on a neighborhood social media site after the boy was attacked: “I’m the dogs’ owner. My dogs never attacked no one. I’m the one that called 911 (for the boy). None of my dogs been put down.” She blamed “all these newcomers (to Grassy Knob Road). I been here 53 years. Born and raised.”

Edgerton said on social media she surrendered four dogs to authorities after the 12-year-old was attacked and took another nine dogs to a veterinarian to have them vaccinated at the request of Animal Control.

Edgerton declined an interview request.

Animal Control Director James Kilgo said four dogs were seized in the area after the woman was attacked. They were euthanized. He said three additional dogs were seized last month and are being held.

“Yes, Animal Control was involved in the February incident. The dogs involved in that incident were not owned by the same individual who owned the dogs in the recent (attacking 12-year-old) event,” Kilgo said, adding that the owner, Edgerton, still has five dogs.

Overall, he said, seven dogs have been seized in the area, four have been euthanized and three remain in quarantine “since they were not vaccinated and these dogs will be deemed dangerous.”

Because the county does not require dog registration or licensing, it can be difficult to determine ownership.