Woman Mauled by Dogs

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

December 28, 2006

Louise Walisser, 24, of Charlottesville was visiting family this week in Nelson County. On Tuesday morning she was out for a walk along Old Roberts Mountain Road.

According to police that's when two pit bulls attacked her. Moments later a driver passing by stopped to help.

"(The driver) saw the dogs were attacking something in the water ditch," explained Chief Deputy John Dixon, of the Nelson County Sheriff's Office. "When she stopped she could actually see that the dogs were on top of a person down in the ditch."

The driver threw things from her car at the dogs, trying to scare them off. It worked and the dogs took off. She then called 911.

The victim suffered bite wounds to her arms, legs, back and face. She was air-lifted to UVA Medical Center.

"In talking with the victim, she feels sure that this woman saved her life," said Dixon. "She stated to me yesterday over the phone that she had just gotten to the point where she couldn't fight these dogs anymore and had just given up."

The dogs owner, who's name is not yet being released, was not home when it happened, but even still he could face very serious charges.

Earlier this year the Virginia General Assembly passed tougher laws, holding dog owners responsible for any damage a dog does. That includes manslaughter, if an animal kills a person.

Last year Deanna Large was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter and sentenced to three years in jail, after her dog attacked and killed an elderly woman in Spotsylvania County.

"You should make sure that they're kept up on a chain or in a good fence," cautioned Dixon. "Owners are responsible for damages that these dogs do, and they can be held responsible criminally as well as civilly for it."

Suzanne Kogut at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA cautioned against making the incident a dog breed issue. She said pit bulls are one of the most neglected and abused dogs, and are often trained by owners for dog fighting or to be violent.

Meanwhile, the two dogs involved in Tuesday's attack were captured by Nelson County Animal Control and are being held until further notice.

The victim was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

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