Michelle Thomas and her seven-year-old son were picking up trash for a Cub Scout project in the 7000 block of Trottinridge Road around 4 p.m. Saturday when the dogs sprinted across the road and attacked the pair.
According to Thomas’ friend Lisa Kurzawa, Thomas, who is legally blind in one eye and unsteady on her feet due to hip replacement surgery, was knocked into a ditch by the dogs as they began to tear at her clothes and limbs.
The attack left Thomas with broken bones in her arms and legs, severe damage to her arm and hand, which may require amputation, a punctured eye — the only one in which she has vision — and lacerations to her face, legs, and arms.
She has more than 200 stitches in her face where doctors reattached her cheek, and as of Monday afternoon, she had undergone more four surgeries in attempt to save her arm and hand.
Thomas was transported by Lifeflight helicopter to VCU-MCV Hospital in Richmond following the attack.
Kurzawa said Thomas recalled seeing the dogs standing on the edge of their property before the confrontation, but figured they were merely protecting their turf, Kurzawa added. As she was on the opposite side of the road from them, Thomas did not think there would be a problem with the dogs.
Thomas, her husband Robert and two sons have lived in the area for over five years, and did not know of any incidents or attacks by those dogs.
Thomas’ son, who is afraid of dogs other than his own two, screamed as the dogs charged him and his mother. The noise did not stop their onslaught.
While the dogs were tearing at Thomas, her son tried to flag down help. He remembers two cars passing by, but not stopping. Thomas also told her friend Kurzawa that she tried to “play dead” hoping the dogs would leave her alone. They did, but only for a short period.
To protect her son, Thomas yelled for him to run away. The youngster showed Kurzawa a scratch he sustained, but it is unclear if it was caused by the dogs or sustained while escaping.
Thomas’ landlord Norman D. Wagstaff Jr. happened upon the assault and was able to scare the dogs away by firing a gun into the air. He then called 911 for assistance. Moments later, a family friend, Heather McKinney, came on the scene. She applied pressure to Thomas’ wounds to stem the flow of blood as they waited for EMS personnel to arrive.
Mecklenburg County Animal Warden Doug Blanton, who was called out to the attack scene, took possession of the two dogs. He said he must hold them in quarantine for a minimum of 10 days while they are checked for rabies.
However, he is meeting with Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Nash to determine if further action is warranted under the state’s vicious dog laws. In so, Blanton said the dogs will remain in his control for the duration of any legal challenge, and depending on the findings the incident could result in the dogs being euthanized.
Blanton said Mecklenburg County does not have a leash law, and there is no requirement that dog owners fence in their property. Still, the owner of any dog that bites, attacks, or inflicts injury on a person — serious or otherwise — and where the attack happens off the property of the attacking or biting dog’s owner or custodian, can be subject to penalties for having a dangerous or vicious dog.
Friends have rallied around the family since the attack. Kurzawa started a GoFundMe page online to help them. Kurzawa said she began the fundraising effort because the Thomas family lacks the means to cover Thomas’ medical expenses. The family has limited income, since Michelle Thomas is legally blind and can’t work and her husband is between jobs.
“Before this incident, money was tight. Now with Michelle in a Richmond hospital, this creates additional hardship to the family. Any contributions to this family would be well received and sincerely appreciated. Help spread the word!”
Since being created Jan. 29, the GoFundMe campaign has raised $2,445 as of Tuesday night, half of the $5,000 goal.
GoFundMe link: "WOMAN ATTACKED BY 2 PITBULLS"
Created January 29, 2017 by Kevin Kurzawa on behalf of Michelle Thomas
Michelle is blind in one eye and her good eye is in peril because of the facial injuries. Her arms and hand have numerous fractures, nerve injuries, the blood flow is restricted- as to the point where she may lose her forearm and/or hand.
She has injuries to her legs and need a lot more stitches, but the wounds can not be closed at this point in case of infection. Michelle is a very brave woman her son is 7 years old and she was protecting him from the attack. She has had hip replacement so she was unsteady on her feet and fell into a ditch, her son told me they were screaming for help and 2 cars passed them by. Michelle instructed her son to run save him from attack as she took the brunt of it. The dogs tore off half of her clothing - Michelle tried to "play dead" and the dogs eased off - then they attacked her again.
Michelle had to be life-flighted by helicopter to a Richmond hospital.
This family has limited income as her husband is between jobs, she is on medicaid and is raising 2 sons. Needless to say this family is struggling to make ends meet. Before this incident money was tight now with Michelle in a Richmond hospital this creates additional hardship to the family. Any contributions to this family would be well received and sincerely appreciated.
Update 1 posted Jan 30
Michelle had some skin removed from part of her leg- and grafted to her fingers. Doctors are unsure of the outcome of this yet- but some pinkness in her 2 fingers. Possible blood clots in 2 fingers. One artery in her arm is completely torn. Michelle had to have rabies shots in all the wounds in her arm. Most of the wounds are still open due to the risk of infection. Great news her eye is ok- she CAN SEE!!!!!!
Update 2 posted Feb 1
HI, and I just want to tell everyone thanks for you donations and prayers. Michelle had a long surgery yesterday, and having surgery again today. She has moved 2 fingers- a good sign- but the possibility of losing her hand is still in question. Michelle will have surgery today on the hand and in the next 2 weeks she will have at least 2 more surgeries on her hand. Michelle's mom has told me that michelle will need at least 2 years of therapy and rehabilitation on just this left arm/hand alone. Michelle will be having rabies injections in the wounds on her right arm today - every wound will need an injection. still critical- when I spoke with her she expressed to me to tell all who are being supportive via donations and prayer to say thank you so much for your support. Michelle said she is very greatful and blessed.
Ive gotten a notice from gofundme to share some information about myself and this campaign.
My name is Lisa Kurzawa- my huband is Kevin. Kevin and I share an email- but I am managing the campaign. I live in Clarksville VA. Michelle and I are close friends. How I met michelle? My daughter Amy has been dating Michelle's son Robert for close to 2 years. Our families have grown close, we spend some holidays as a family together, we hang out as a family and go boating or having cook outs. We attend a lot of church functions with Michelle because she always invites us - Christmas concerts, fundraisers etc. We just hang out, watch movies, tv, play board games. She just always been a strong shoulder for me. I moved to Clarksville 5 years ago, and we are originally from New Jersey.
The donations are being put into an account that Robert Thomas has access to. The money in its whole will be given directly to him for him to put into his personal account.
The money is needed for household expenses, for repair on a car so it is able to safely able to transport the family to and from the hospital (2 hours away) , for gas. money will need to be saved by Robert from this campaign as Michelle will need transportation for therapy for at least 2 years. Robert is a very responsible man and will use this money to take care of only necessary matters. Robert is a humble man and is not wasteful, he is in high character. Robert has a closeness with his mom that I don't have words to express. The love and friendship between them Is very tight. I do have to admit though - the two of them goof around like 2 kids- the stories that she tells me are hysterical. Always playing tricks on each other. Michelle shares the same closeness with her youngest son- his is missing his mom so much and just needs a lot of love and attention. (and I assure you he is getting it) They are a beautiful family and my family and I are blessed to have their friendship.
Update 3 posted Feb 1
WOMAN ATTACKED BY 2 PITBULLS has reached 53% of its goal. Thanks to Susan, Becky and Castle's Butcher.
Two people who have posted on the GoFundMe page are Jeff Borchardt, whose little boy was killed by his babysitter's pit bulls and Tina Pounds, who was seriously injured while protecting her grandson from a pit bull attack.
My son was 1 of 16 children killed by pit bulls in 2013. These attacks happen more often than you think. There is a huge support network out there for you. Please request to join the public Facebook groups like: "The Pit Bull Propaganda Machine Revealed" and "Dangerous Dogs." Thank you for your courage and voice.
of course you HAD to include the breed..couldn't just say two dogs. The only thing this campaign will do is induce a false image of hate towards pitbulls. I feel sorry for the victims but am angered at the person who created this campaign in this way.
Every trait that was BRED INTO these dogs-explosive, disproportionate and unprovoked aggression, gameness, and their uniquely damaging hold and shake attack style-makes them defective, destructive, and deadly as a PET animal (http://occupymaulstreet.blogspot.com/2012/12/darwin-dogs-pit-bulls-killing-and.html) and stupid, dangerous, and defective as any type of therapy or service dog: http://cravendesires.blogspot.com/2012/04/vintage-stunt-pit-picks.html There is only a controversy in the minds of people who want to avoid reality. Pit bulls are the number ONE breed for human fatalities and severe, life altering injuries (fatalpitbullattacks.com), serial attacks, rampage attacks, and failing a 'second chance' (dogbitelaw.com) as well as mauling and killing pets and livestock (17barks.blogspot.com). This is no more an appropriate and safe pet than a tiger or bear and should be regulated the same way.
Kathryn judging from your Facebook and comments, it does not look like you are a very intelligent person so I will do you a favor and not rip everything you just said apart. I hope that one day you can get over your ignorance and hate. Have a nice night.
and in the future if you want to sound more intelligent, avoid using blog posts as primary sources to prove any time of point
Oh, it gets better...
You can't continue to argue over something that you have no clue about. Someone just stated in a comment above that they have a pit and their dog is loving and caring. I am sorry for what has happened to the family. No one deserves this to happen to them. BUT, how dare you disgrace an entire breed of animals just because of the stories you have heard. Also, it is not just pit bulls with aggressive behavior- all dogs will become "aggressive" when it comes to their territory or their owners. We own a PIT BULL and she is around our 5 year old child 24/7. Suing the owner of the pit? Like the owners have no remorse for what has happened? Be a bit more intelligent, please. The owners of these animals are probably more distraught than anyone can or could even imagine so keep your worthless idiotic comments to yourself about "this breed" to yourself.
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