Community Seeks Answers After Dog Dragging Incident

Emmanuel, a 9-month-old shepherd mix, recovers from his injuries. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

Emmanuel, a 9-month-old shepherd mix, recovers from his injuries. (Photo/Courtesy of Fairfield Animal Hospital)

WINNSBORO (Dec. 25, 2015) – A young dog found in the woods by four women riding horses through Carolina Adventure World near White Oak in northeast Fairfield County on Sunday, Dec. 13,  is recuperating at Fairfield Animal Hospital from horrific injuries that Winnsboro veterinarian Robert Knight says are consistent with the dog being dragged behind a vehicle.

The dog, a 9-month-old shepherd mix named Emmanuel by his caregivers, was brought to the hospital by the riders about 4 p.m. that Sunday.  According to Susan Knight, a vet tech and the wife and spokesperson for Dr. Knight, the dog’s injuries were only a few hours old when he was brought in.

“Emmanuel was missing all his toenails and nail beds and all of the skin and some tissue on the top sides of every paw,” Knight said. “He was missing the hard soles on his paw pads and had multiple deep abrasions on his chest (underneath and on both sides).”

She said all of the skin and tissue on the dog’s knees, down to the bones, was gone. The skin on his left leg was slit open up to his side, and the dragging scraped a three-to-four-inch diameter hole through the skin on his right side.

After seven surgeries, another surgery by a specialist to repair a torn off kneecap and torn ligaments is still to come. The wounds are so severe, Knight said, that the dog must be sedated for bandage changes.

Knight said she and her husband feel certain the dog was dragged behind a vehicle, and she said she doesn’t think it was an accident.

Laura Collins, the rider who first found the dog, said he was lying near a bush at the edge of a horse trail about 200 feet from Camp Welfare Road, a paved road that runs alongside Carolina Adventure World. The Voice visited the site with Collins who pointed out a makeshift, little-used access trail where vehicles or ATV’s occasionally come off Camp Welfare Road into the wooded area. The makeshift trail connects with a riding trail that runs next to the bush where the dog was found.

“We’re sure the dog was dragged on pavement, not dirt,” Knight said. “There was no significant dirt in the wounds. But we don’t know how he came to be in the woods.

“His injuries were so severe he wouldn’t have been able to walk on his injured paws,” Knight said.

Collins told The Voice that when she found the dog, he could barely raise his head and made no effort to get up or walk.

But the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, while looking into the incident, does not think there is anything at this time to indicate a criminal act took place. Asked by The Voice on Tuesday if there was an incident report on the dog’s injuries, Lt. Lee Haney said there was not and that the injuries to the dog are not being investigated as the result of a crime at this time. Haney said he was just starting to gather information, including a written statement from Dr. Knight, but emphasized that no official investigation was under way and referred all questions about the dog to the Sheriff.

Knight told The Voice that the wounds are not consistent with being hit by a vehicle.

“There are no injuries or marks on his shoulders or head,” Knight said. “This is something we’ve seen before. It’s the pattern of being dragged behind a vehicle. The animal loses his paw pads as he tries to run and stay on his feet. Then when he falls and is dragged, the tops of his feet, stomach and sides are injured as his upper body is suspended by a rope or tie. It would appear he was dragged for quite a long way.”

The dog’s story has been broadcast by WLTX-TV and has gone viral on the internet. Well-wishers have sent donations toward the cost of his surgeries and care which, Knight said, could last many weeks.

Reward

The Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society is raising money for a reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person(s) who might have dragged the dog purposely.

“We don’t know what happened to the dog,” said Minge Wiseman, vice president of the Hoof and Paw Society, “but we see his injuries and so far no one has been able to explain to us how the dog could have sustained those injuries by accident. If a crime was committed and if this dog was dragged behind a vehicle knowingly, someone knows what happened. We hope the reward money will be what it takes to obtain the information necessary to bring the person(s) responsible to justice.”

To donate to the reward fund, contact the Hoof & Paw Benevolent Society at 803-429-3509. The Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society is a 501(c)3 and all donations are tax deductible.

For more photos and information about the dog’s condition, go to the Fairfield Animal Hospital’s Facebook page or the Fairfield County Animal Adoption Center’s Facebook page.