ATHENS, Ga. -- Michael Wiley was lying in his hospital bed Thursday recalling the day that a stroll over to his uncle’s shop turned into a fight for his life.
Wiley, a 42-year-old man who lives in a rural area south of Commerce, has bandages covering his arms and legs and plenty of stitches on his head, neck, and back as the result of a savage attack by four dogs.
“I thought I was going to die,” Wiley said of the Monday afternoon attack along W.L. Williams Road in Jackson County. Wiley’s arms were severely torn by the dogs as he used them to fend off the animals as they tried to get to his neck.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the gaping wounds exposed bone and ligaments. And when his doctor stopped by Wiley’s room at Athens Regional Medical Center on Thursday, she expressed concern about the effect the trauma is having on Wiley’s kidneys.
The attack was unprovoked, Wiley said. He said he was simply walking along the road when the largest of the four dogs came for him.
“He jumped on my back and I took off running and the others began jumping at my back,” he recalled.
As Wiley sought escape in a field, the dogs ripped off his pants and shirt.
“When they got the taste of blood they didn’t want to stop. I was holding my arms up so they couldn’t get to my throat,” he said.
“The more I fought the more they would bite me harder and harder,” he continued. “I could hear cars coming up and down the road and I tried to holler and they attacked me again so I figured I’d just lay there so they would stop.” The dogs did finally leave their victim alone. Eventually, one of Wiley’s friends traveling along the road saw Wiley’s knees sticking up in the field. Wiley had begun to lose consciousness due to the loss of blood through his wounds.
“I told him to call the ambulance,” Wiley said.
Wiley’s sister, Valerie Lumpkin of Madison County, said she went directly to the hospital when she heard about the attack.
“Oh, my God. I didn’t recognize him,” she said Thursday, as she recalled seeing her brother in the emergency room.
A Jackson County sheriff’s deputy who responded to the attack scene reported that the dogs aggressively attacked his patrol vehicle. He described three of the dogs as mixed pit bulldogs and the other as a Mastiff mix.
One of the dogs is a stray, but the two owners of the other dogs were cited for a violation of the leash law and for not having proof of rabies vaccinations for the animals, according to a Jackson County Sheriff’s deputy.
Animal Control Officer Matt Hammer said Thursday that three of the dogs have been euthanized and are being tested for rabies. The fourth dog has not been found, but Hammer went back to the scene Thursday to continue the search.
“She is also a pregnant female and it’s possible she is bedded down somewhere and had her puppies,” Hammer said.