ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A woman and her mother were decorating the graves of family members in a Rogersville cemetery when she became the victim of a vicious dog attack last Sunday.
53 year-old Lisa Housewright of Church Hill said a Rottweiler she estimated weighed at least 100 pounds attacked her from behind at the Harrison Cemetery near Rogersville. The attack left her with scrapes and bruises to her arms, back and stomach.
She said the dog would have killed her if she had not fought back.
“I thought he was trying to play at first until I felt him trying to bite my neck,” Housewright said. “I really think he would’ve tried to rip my throat out.”
Housewright says the dog was wearing a blue and green collar with a pink tag and thinks that it came from a house nearby.
Housewright called the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office after the incident. A police report recorded an offense of “Animal at Large/Dog Bite,” but no other suspects or arrestees.
The report stated the attack happened at 5:10 p.m. on Sunday and that Housewright had suffered a bite on her left arm that had punctured her skin.
The responding deputy advised Housewright to carry pepper spray at the cemetery. She would be entitled to seek private prosecution, it said.
Housewright was putting Christmas decorations on family gravestones in the Harrison Cemetery. She said about a quarter of the headstones there belong to family.
She was bent over fixing a decoration when the dog bit at her leg and eventually knocked her over, where it tried to bite at her neck.
Housewright says that she used her sweater as a means of protecting her neck.
Housewright’s mother was nearby and became the subject of the dog’s attack before Housewright distracted it and brought it toward her, allowing her mother to escape without injury.
“It leaped at her and as it leaped, I kicked at it to get it back to me,” Housewright said. “My mom’s 70-something years old and there’s no way I wanted this dog to attack her.”
The next 30 minutes were spent fighting off the dog, punching and kicking it, until she finally made it to safety back at her car.
Housewright, being a dog owner herself, initially welcomed the dog as it was calm, and did not even bark or growl. She said the dog did not bark or growl during the attack either.
“It evens smells of me and licks me while I’m putting stuff on the grave. I’m like okay he’s friendly,” she said.
But then she says the dog’s attitude changed in an instant.
“It was just like snapping of a switch. The dog was behind me and had me by my neck,” Housewright added. “I think really he would’ve tried to rip my throat out.”
The Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter Executive Director Tammy Davis said that the best way to protect yourself from a dog attack is to prevent the animal from getting behind you.
“If you are somewhere that you can put something in between you and that animal that would be the best thing,” said Davis. “I would not recommend running, you know they may chase you.”
Housewright said she returned to the cemetery on Monday to finish setting up the decorations. By the end of her time there, the dog was back. She was able to leave without incident.
“I’ve never had that terror of being afraid to going to my dad’s grave,” Housewright said. “Now I can’t go back there by myself until something’s done.”
Housewright said she would not press charges in the case if the attacking dog was put down. She had concern for other people visiting the cemetery.