State News

August 19, 2009

Ga. couple killed by pack of wild dogs near home

LEXINGTON, Ga. (AP) — Sherry Schweder worried about a group of mixed-breed dogs she saw wandering near her home, a pack that authorities say mauled her and her husband to death along a rural road in northeast Georgia.

The 65-year-old animal lover was taking an evening stroll last week when she was attacked by the feral dogs, authorities believe. Her husband, Lothar Schweder, a retired professor, fell victim to the pack when he went out looking for her.

A shredded piece of shirt, some strands of hair and bloodstained dirt were all that remained Tuesday where the couple was killed. Paramedics who came to the grisly scene Saturday morning found the suspected attackers standing guard. While it’s unclear exactly what happened because there were no witnesses, officials have rounded up 16 dogs they believe were involved.

Schweder had told one of her sons that no one seemed to be caring for the dogs, said Jim Fullington, special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Experts say the attack is extremely rare — so rare “you are more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than by a dog,” said Adam Goldfarb, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States.

The dogs didn’t belong to anyone, but a man who owns a house at the end of the road had been feeding them, said Oglethorpe County sheriff’s Capt. Shalon Huff. The man told authorities the dogs never behaved aggressively toward him, and he did not believe the dogs had killed the couple.

“Sometimes the pack mentality can play a role. One dog gets aroused and that revs up his buddies,” Goldfarb said.

The dogs were aggressive toward authorities who rounded them up using traps and tranquilizers, Huff said. At one point, a group of them cornered two people against a vehicle. There were no signs the dogs were rabid, Huff said.

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