Isle of Wight woman shares story about pit bull attack

Published 11:27 am Thursday, November 18, 2010


Jane Ashe of Peanut Drive, Windsor, shows her arm after she was attacked by a neighbor's pit bull on Tuesday. -- Merle Monahan | Tidewater News

WINDSOR—Seventy-six-year-old Jane Ashe credits neighbor Syrena Merritt with saving her life from a Tuesday pit bull attack.

Ashe, who was flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for her injuries, has returned to her home on Peanut Drive, and on Wednesday, shared her story with The Tidewater News.

The attack occurred about 11 a.m. after Ashe got out of her car with some groceries and walked to her deck with Jack, her Jack Russell Terrier, in her arms. Ashe said she saw the pit bull and told him to “go home.” But the dog got between her and the door and wouldn’t let her go inside.

“Then Jack growled and the pit bull lunged at us,” she said. “He was trying to get at Jack, but I couldn’t let that happen.”

The pit bull knocked Ashe down and got on top of her.

“He bit into my arm, and I just knew he was going to kill me, but I held on to Jack and began screaming as loud as I could,” she said. “My neighbor ran over, barefooted, and fought the dog off with a stick. She drove him over into his yard — my neighbor on the other side — but he got loose, came back and attacked again.”

This time Merritt found a rope, tied it around the 40-pound dog’s neck and secured him, Ashe said.

Merritt helped Ashe call 911, and her husband and son, who were working at their farm equipment shop in Suffolk.

“The paramedics were here within eight minutes, but it seemed like an eternity,” Ashe said. “I was bleeding pretty bad.”

She was treated at the hospital for severe bruising and deep lacerations on the front and back of her right arm and a gash on the back of her head. Ashe didn’t know how many stitches it took to close the gash, but there were a lot. She was released following treatment.

Jack escaped with minor scratches on his back right leg.

Ashe and her husband, Conrad, 81, have lived in their home less than a month. She said she knew there were several dogs at the residence of Lori Milhouse, the pit bull’s owner, but didn’t pay much attention to them.

“We have Jack, who is a year old, and my husband’s Jack Russell, Shorty, about 3 ½ years old. Our dogs are with us all the time — they never go outside unless one of us is with them. There is no way our dogs could have provoked that dog,” Ashe said.

Milhouse, who said she has been threatened since the attack, was not home when the incident occurred. She said the dogs have played together with no problems.

“I’ve heard that my animals will be killed, and I’m so terrified that this will happen that I’ve asked Isle of Wight Animal Control to find homes for them,” she said.

“I love my animals, and I don’t want any harm to come to them, ” continued Millhouse, who has seven dogs, two horses and a pot-bellied pig. “I am so very sorry that this happened. I like Mrs. Ashe and would like very much to go over to apologize. But people are so much against me now. I just don’t know if they would allow it.”

Milhouse said her family, as well as the sheriff’s deputies, cannot figure out how her dog got off its chain.

“This has never happened before,” she said. “We never take him off the chain unless we’re going to bathe him, things like that. Even then, he has never acted aggressively towards anyone.”

Isle of Wight Animal Control Chief Wilbur Sullivan said the pit bull would stay at the animal shelter in quarantine until the case can be heard in court on Dec. 2.

“In a case like this, only the court can say if the dog is considered dangerous or not,” he said.