HICKORY GROVE, S.C. - Tucked along rural Sawmill Road, off State Road 61, is a trailer home where a 71-year-old woman is believed to have been attacked by a pit bull terrier on Saturday. Authorities said dog fighting is to blame.
“This incident speaks to the viciousness and violent nature of raising animals for the purpose of fighting,” said York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson in a statement Sunday. “And unfortunately caused very serious and unnecessary harm to an innocent and unintended victim. This activity is cruel, unnecessary and criminal.”
York County Councilman Bump Roddey says it was a mistake for the sheriff to blame the attack on dog fighting because no evidence of that has been presented publicly, no charges have been filed and code enforcement is still investigating what took place.
“Dog fighting will not be tolerated in our community. It’s a very sensitive subject,” Roddey said by phone. “But, it’s unfortunate that the sheriff’s department has made those assumptions not knowing fully if any dog fighting was present.”
Fourteen dogs were seized by York County Animal Control. From the street, FOX 46 found evidence of dogs being chained to a tether. A collection of empty beer cans lay on the ground. Nearby, chickens roamed close to a sign that read: “OLE BOI KENNEL APBT,” which stands for American Pit Bull Terrier.
Animal activists say chickens are often used to train dogs to fight.
“She’s doing OK,” said a neighbor, who did not want to be identified, but knows the woman who was attacked. “The dog got her leg. And we’re just praying she’ll get a quick recovery.”
The victim was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Charlotte for her injuries. Her name has not been released and her health status is unknown. Investigators say she was a family member who was at the home to “tend to the dogs for the dog’s owner.”
“One dog had gotten loose and attacked the woman as she was tending to other dogs in the area,” investigators said.
The victim’s neighbor, who has lived in the area for 10 years says she is unaware of anything related to alleged dog fighting.
“Very friendly. She’s a good neighbor,” she said.
Deputies say the dogs were “aggressive” and lacked adequate food, water, and shelter. A wood fence perimeter was seen in the backyard but it is unclear what it was used for. The residence has a “private property” sign chained to the front yard.
“We had never heard anything, or seen anything, or even hint there was anything like that going on,” the neighbor said, when told about the allegations of dog fighting.
FOX 46 asked why the sheriff believes dog fighting occurred at the residence and requested information on whether deputies had ever been called to the home before.
“There is no further information at this time,” said York County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris. “More information will be released tomorrow.”
Councilman Roddey said he would like to see more efforts to educate the public on the warning signs of dog fighting, which has been an ongoing issue in the county.
Last year, the county passed an ordinance making it illegal to tether or chain an animal.