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Charges in dog attack that injured woman; Winston-Salem man says he doesn't own the dogs

Charges in dog attack that injured woman; Winston-Salem man says he doesn't own the dogs

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A Winston-Salem man was charged Monday after a dog attack that injured a woman in the 1200 block of East Sprague Street, court records show.

Kenneth Allen Byrd, 45, of East Sprague Street, is charged with misdemeanor assault involving serious injury and four misdemeanor counts of violating Forsyth County’s leash law, according to two arrest warrants.

The attack Monday comes days after a dog attacked a student at Hanes Magnet Middle School. The school is about a half-mile from the site of Monday’s attack. The two incidents are not related, authorities said Tuesday.

Byrd is accused of assaulting Susan Horton by allowing his four pit bulls to run from his property unleashed, resulting in serious injuries to Horton, an arrest warrant said.

The dogs’ actions resulted in numerous bites to Horton’s head, arm and legs, which required her to be treated in a hospital’s emergency room, the warrant said.

Horton was in good condition Tuesday at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Byrd denied the charges Tuesday, telling the Winston-Salem Journal that his 16-year-old pit bull, Megan, was with him inside his house when the other three dogs attacked Horton. He said his dog didn’t participate in the attack and he doesn’t own the dogs involved in attacking Horton.

Byrd said he told a Forsyth County animal-control officer that he doesn’t own the dogs and said he helped that officer and another animal-services officer catch the dogs.

He said he doesn’t know Horton.

“I told them that they were never my dogs,” Byrd said. “My dog was not involved in the attack. There are stray dogs here in the neighborhood that run around all of the time.

“I saw the commotion, and I came outside after the fact to help with the situation,” Byrd said. “I didn’t see the actual attack. I saw the lady sitting on the ground. The dogs ran off and came through my backyard.”

Byrd said that the stray dogs often get food from delivery trucks that serve a nearby shopping center and that the animals often search the trash at a nearby abandoned house.

“They terrorize the whole neighborhood basically,” Byrd said. “My heart goes out to the victim, but I don’t think I should be a scapegoat for this situation.”

A 1:21-minute Facebook video initially shows two dogs attacking Horton, and then two more dogs join the attack. The dogs repeatedly bite Horton before another woman fights off one of the dogs while the other dogs run from the scene. That woman then helps the woman who was attacked.

The officers took Byrd’s dog and three other dogs to the Forsyth County Animal Services shelter, said Lt. David Morris, the agency’s director. Morris declined to comment on Byrd’s assertions of innocence.

Byrd said that county animal-services officials allowed him to pick up his dog Tuesday.

Monday’s dog attack was the second in the neighborhood in the past week. On Thursday, a pit bull attacked a student outside Hanes Magnet Middle School, which is near where Horton was attacked, Morris said.

A school resource officer shot a charging Brindle pit bull twice outside the school near the track and field area, authorities said. It was one of two dogs loose in the area.

Luis Munos, 23, of the 2300 block of Marble Street was cited with owning a dog that attacked a person and caused an injury. Lauren Anica, 22, who lives at the same address, was cited with unlawfully permitting the animals to run loose.

The 11-year-old student who was bitten had minor injuries and was treated at a doctor’s office. Forsyth County Animal Services took the dog that was shot to a veterinarian, and it was later euthanized, Morris said.

The agency deployed its group of eight to nine officers to the East Sprague Street neighborhood Monday after it received many complaints of stray dogs in that area, Morris said. The officers also investigate every report of dogs biting people, he said.

“Dogs bite people nearly every day in the county and throughout the state,” Morris said.

Byrd says he thinks stray dogs have become a problem throughout Forsyth County since the Forsyth County commissioners approved a tethering provision in 2016 which bans the restraining of dogs with chains or wires. Under the measure, a dog can be tied outside if the owner or caretaker is outside with it or can see the dog at times.

Animal services’ officers have encouraged people to keep their dogs in fences or take them inside their homes for safety and health reasons. However, that provision doesn’t seem to be working, Byrd said.

“Residents in Forsyth County are either letting their dogs run free of they’re just not tethering them at all,” Byrd said. 336-727-7299 @jhintonWSJ


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