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08-19-09, 08:09 PM #1
Pack of abandoned pet dogs killed two people who walked by
A pack of dogs brought down and killed an animal-loving couple last weekend in rural northeastern Georgia, and a similar tragedy could occur anywhere dogs roam freely, authorities say.
Sheriff's deputies, code enforcement officers and other officials spent most of Monday and Tuesday rounding up 11 adult dogs and five puppies, Oglethorpe County Sheriff's Capt. Shalon Huff said. One more was trapped Wednesday morning, leaving one still to be captured, she said.
"We're just lucky this hasn't happened before," said Susan Fornash, director of the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, where the captured dogs were held before being euthanized Tuesday under orders from a local judge.
"We've had people bring in a dog because it killed a goat or chased their horses or something like that. And to me, that was just the forerunner of something like this."
Investigators say they believe that University of Georgia librarian Sherry Schweder, 65, went for her usual morning walk Saturday down Howard Thaxton Road, the narrow dirt lane that runs alongside the couple's property.
The dogs were familiar in the area, investigators say, having been left behind when the person who had been caring for some of them moved out of a home at the end of the lane.
Authorities theorize that halfway down the lane, about a quarter-mile from her home, Sherry Schweder was confronted by the dogs, which knocked her down and killed her.
Her husband, retired UGA language professor Lothar Schweder, became concerned when she didn't return and went out in their Honda CRX to look for her. When he found her lying in the lane and got out to shoo away the dogs, they attacked and killed him too, investigators believe.
The owner, Howard Thaxton, had moved out some months earlier because of health and financial problems but had someone drive him every other day to leave food for the dogs, said GBI Special Agent Christopher Bish. Several empty 40-pound bags of Ol' Roy dog food were strewn about the property Tuesday.
Thaxton, an amputee who Bish said was recently released from a hospital, has been cooperating with authorities. Thaxton doesn't believe that those animals were capable of killing people, law enforcement officials said. He has not been charged.
"We are still in discussions with the district attorney about culpability and what have you, but no decisions have been reached yet," Bish said.
Bish said it took 14 visits to Thaxton's house to make initial contact with him. CNN's efforts to find Thaxton for comment were unsuccessful.
Stopping the dogs from reproducing might have prevented the tragedy, Fornash said. Just a few dogs can multiply rapidly into a menace, she added. Video Watch how dog bites might be prevented »
"In the blink of an eye, we have a pack of 50 dogs because people don't spay and neuter," she said.
It took about 90 minutes to euthanize all 16 dogs, several of which were maggot-infested, Fornash said. No one asked that they be checked for rabies, and the sheriff directed that the carcasses be cremated immediately, she said.
"I'm heartbroken for the family," Fornash said. "I can't even imagine how they must feel. And I'm also very sad for those animals, because if they had been cared for the way they should have been, this wouldn't have happened. It's not their fault."
The Schweders' seven dogs and four of their cats were to be brought to the shelter Wednesday and eventually adopted out, she said.
Thaxton's wood frame house that served as the dogs' home sits at the edge of a forest dotted with hunting campers and abandoned 1950s vehicles. Empty 5-gallon water bottles fill a ravine behind the house, and a derelict 1980s Chevy Caprice crouches next to a rusting John Deere tractor under a shade tree.
After all the sheriff's deputies and trappers had left Tuesday afternoon, a scruffy red dog appeared, ears up, next to the tractor. The animal, alone, scampered off into the woods.
By Jim Kavanagh
Dogs in fatal attack rounded up, euthanized - CNN.com
08-19-09, 08:47 PM #2
I heard about this on the radio today. What a terrible way to die...Calm Like A Bomb...
“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
08-19-09, 09:56 PM #3
Unbelievably horrible.Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
08-20-09, 01:44 PM #4
That is awful. That poor couple.
08-22-09, 12:47 AM #5
Sounds like a good reason to carry a concealed pistol if it is legal in your area. What a waste.JamesDept of the Army Civilian Police"Loyalty above all else, except Honor"Never forget those who fell on 9/11/01S&W beats 4 Aces every time
08-22-09, 06:58 AM #6
But what about the guy who owned the dogs, shouldn't he be responsible for their actions? He should at least have either found them homes or put them in a shelter. He left them to be strays. I realize his health was bad, but jeeze, take care of your pets!
My dad, I miss him every day.
Originally Posted by Wolven
Life is too short to wear unsexy underwear.
I am a female!!!!! LMAO
Be who you are and say what you feel.....
Because those that matter...don't mind...
And those that mind...don't matter
08-22-09, 08:49 AM #7Never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way" ~Martin Luther King, Jr
08-22-09, 12:28 PM #8
08-24-09, 02:09 AM #9
owner of the dogs should be charged...
if it were not for his actions, these people would still be alive. i dont care how bad his health is, or what type of financial problems he has. when you leave a pack of dogs to basically fend for themselves with no restraints and no supervision, what the hell do you think is gonna happen. they revert from domesticated pet to wild animal for survival.in the warriors code there's no surrender, though his body says stop, his spirit cries...NEVER. deep in our souls, a quiet ember, knows its you against you, its the paradox that drives us all. its a battle of wills, in the heat of attack, its the passion that kills, and victory is yours alone.
the posts and opinions stated by me do not in any way reflect the values, beliefs, or views of my department. they are simply opinions and/or observations which have been developed through my personal experiences. hell, most of the stories probably arent even true...wink wink
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