VALLEY HEAD, W.Va. — An elderly man required surgery Tuesday after a pack of large dogs attacked him while walking near his home, officials said.
The Randolph County dog warden and sheriff’s office are actively seeking the dogs, which have been described as pit/pitbull mix, so they can be taken into custody while officers conduct a full investigation into the matter, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Valley Head resident Don Ware, 70, was walking on Marple Road near the Ware Town Cemetery between 11 and 11:30 a.m. when three dogs attacked him, the man’s wife, Diane Ware, said.
She said the dogs relentlessly attacked her husband, causing significant damage to his legs, and were “going for his throat” and “trying to make him fall down,” until their owner called the animals off. Don Ware was transported to Davis Medical Center in Elkins, where surgery was performed on his leg. He was released from the hospital at about 10 p.m.
“He said he thought they were going to kill him,” she said.
Diane Ware said she believes owners of large dogs with aggressive tendencies must take extra precautions to ensure their neighbors are safe.
“If these dogs would have gotten ahold of a small kid, they would have killed them,” she said. “Anybody with big dogs like that need to be extra careful.”
Valley Head resident Amanda Beverage, a neighbor, said this most recent attack is not an isolated incident. She said the same dogs attacked her family’s 6-year-old golden retriever on her 13-acre property June 30, killed one of their goats in October and attacked a neighbor’s pig in November. She said the pig eventually died of its injuries. On Dec. 30, the pack returned to her property, where they attacked and killed her dog, she said.
“My dog Buddy was the sweetest dog,” she said. “He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Beverage said immediate action is necessary because the dogs are attacking in a pack.
“If people can’t control their animals – especially if they’re this aggressive, there needs to be something done,” she said. “It would be hard for me to put a pet down, but if my pet was mean and aggressive to another animal or person and I could not trust it, I would have to put it down.”
Beverage said each of the incidents, which all involved direct witnesses, were reported to the Randolph County dog warden, but county officials never followed up.
“If they would have done something earlier this may not have happened to this man,” she said. “Sure, we hated losing our animals, but every time that we reported an incident it was because of our concern that it could be a person next time.”
Beverage noted Valley Head Elementary School is close to where the incidents occurred.
Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady said the sheriff’s office and the dog warden are conducting a full investigation into the incident. He added the dog warden has made him aware of prior incidents, as well.
“Any violations that have occurred, we’ll make sure those are taken care of in court,” he said.
Brady said it’s important the dogs are caught and not running loose. He said that once captured, they will be taken into custody of the Randolph County Humane Society.
“We want to make sure that the Valley Head area is safe so this doesn’t occur to anybody else,” he said.
Brady added he’d like to encourage pet owners to take all the necessary precautions to keep their pets healthy and the community safe.
“It is your responsibility to make sure those animals are taken care of, fed and watered – and also that the community they are around is protected,” he said. “It’s your responsibility to ensure those dogs do not get loose in the community and attack other animals or individuals.”