ROCKY MOUNT, NC — A husband and wife are recovering side-by-side after they were attacked by a dog over the weekend, according to family members.
Police on Sunday responded to a home in the 600 block of Nelson Street in Rocky Mount. When they arrived, officers saw a pit bull attacking Bobby Joyner, 82, and Annie Joyner, 78. A Rocky Mount officer trying to help the couple was also bit in the thigh.
The officer fired her gun twice and hit the dog, which was taken into custody by Rocky Mount Animal Control. Julie Proctor, the property owner of where the attack happened, said the dog was euthanized. Proctor said the pit bull belonged to her grandson.
Investigators said the dog was running loose, violating a city ordinance. Proctor will be cited.
The Joyners were taken to ECU Health with severe but non-life-threatening injuries. The police officer was treated at UNC Nash Healthcare and released.
According to family, Annie Joyner had one foot amputated, and her other foot will require skin grafts. Bobby Joyner had surgery on his hands and arm.
“I’m like kind of still in shock a little bit,” said Melissa Joyner, who is the daughter of the couple attacked. “I know my sister is too, but we’re just going to be here with my parents as long as they need us.”
Melissa Joyner said her parents and Proctor had been neighbors for years. She said her mom was in the trauma unit and her dad was in the emergency department.
“When it was time for my mom to go to surgery, the nurse who was helping my dad asked him if he wanted to go see his sweetheart,” Melissa Joyner said. “And he said, ‘Yeah, I do.'”
Melissa Joyner called for people to be responsible pet owners.
“I mean, I have dogs too, and we love dogs,” Melissa Joyner said. “So, in our eyes, it’s really not the dog’s fault.
“The owner needed to be more responsible.”
The attack happened on Proctor’s property.
“He backed out of the harness somehow. I guess the adrenaline in him,” Proctor said of her grandson’s dog. “That’s why they think he was not on his harness, but he was.”
Proctor insists the pit bull was leashed and harnessed in the yard.
“Being a pit bull, he was just very protective of his property and people, and I hate it more than anybody that it happened,” Proctor said.
Proctor said she does not plan on getting another dog.
“They euthanized him,” Proctor said of the dog. “My grandson’s very upset, but I didn’t know what else to do.”
WRAL News asked Proctor whether she was to blame for the attack.
“No, not really because like I said, [the dog] was harnessed and leashed in his yard,” Proctor said.
However, the American Temperament Society tested 931 pit bulls for shyness, stability, aggressiveness and friendliness, and 90% passed.
Advocates say pit bulls are not “inherently aggressive,” but they stay in shelters longer than other dogs because of their reputation. As of Oct. 1, 76% of the dogs at the Wake County Animal Shelter were pit bulls.