The Asheville Citizen-Times is reporting...
A Fletcher woman is fighting for her life after being attacked by a family member’s Great Dane.
Gail Rebecca Lanning, 55, of 67 Poteat Street Extension, was severely injured in the attack at 9:20 a.m. Monday, police and family members said. She was taken to Mission Hospital, where she was listed in critical condition today, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Kristi Brown, a long-time Great Dane breeder who is Lanning’s niece, said the attack involved two of her dogs and happened at her kennel at 70 Poteat Street Extension, across the road from Lanning’s home.
“It’s just a tragedy that happened,” Brown said in an interview from Mission Hospital today. “My aunt is a wonderful person.”
The chain of events began when Lanning called Brown to say that two of her dogs, a male and female, were barking, Brown said. Lanning said she would let the dogs out of a small kennel, where they were being kept for breeding while the female was in heat, into a larger fenced yard to get some exercise.
“She called me and said they were barking,” said Brown, who operates the kennel on family property on Poteat Street Extension but lives in Mills River. “But she said they were being friendly.”
Brown remained on the phone with Lanning while she let the dogs out into the larger fenced area. Lanning was trying to get the dogs to return to the smaller kennel when the attack happened, Brown said.
She said she could hear a commotion on the phone, and when Lanning didn’t answer she called 911.
Brown said her 82-year-old grandmother, who lives near the kennel, saw Lanning on the ground shortly after the attack and ran to her aid. The dogs were not aggressive toward the grandmother, Brown said.
Though Lanning lives near the kennel, she rarely interacted with the dogs, Brown said. Despite that, she said she was mystified at the attack.
“I’ve had Great Danes for 18 years, and my dogs have never bitten anyone,” she said.
Family members have been unable to speak with Lanning because of her condition, so no one knows if both dogs were involved in the attack, Brown said. Evidence pointed to the female, she said, an animal that may have been more temperamental because it was in heat.
“No one knows what happened until my aunt wakes up,” she said.
Brown took both dogs to the Henderson County Animal Shelter for a 10-day quarantine. They both will be euthanized after that period unless Lanning is able to say one of the dogs did not take part in the attack, Brown said.
She asked for prayers for her aunt, who lives alone. Brown said the family has gotten support from members of Fletcher First Baptist Church, where Lanning attends, and others in the community.
While the incident is still under investigation by the Fletcher Police Department, chief Erik Summey said charges are unlikely because there were no violations related to the dogs and they were never outside a fence.
“It’s an unfortunate incident, but it doesn’t look like there was any criminal activity,” Summey said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”