Distraught neighbours of a woman mauled to death by her beloved pet dogs have revealed how they tried to fend off the attack by repeatedly striking the animals with an axe.
Nancy Cherryl Burgess-Dismuke, 52, of Greenville in the US state of South Carolina, was playfully wrestling with her two boxer-mixes when the game turned deadly, according to witnesses.
“It went from looking like they were really playing to them really eating her alive,” Amber Greer, who lived next door to the victim and raised the alarm, said.
Two other neighbours who witnessed the incident said they ran to Ms Burgess-Dismuke’s property after hearing her screams.
Denzel Whiteside and housemate William Long said they arrived to find a scene straight out of a horror movie, with the dogs “biting both of her arms and dragging her body (from the yard) back into her home”.
Mr Whiteside grabbed an axe while Mr Long found a drive shaft beside a vehicle. The men struck the dogs repeatedly until the animals finally released their grip on Ms Burgess-Dismuke.
“When they finally got the dogs off of her, and finally got them to go, she threw her body over the fence,” Ms Greer told the Greenville News.
“She didn’t jump, she threw her body like you never seen before. They were eating her.”
Mr Whiteside said he wished he could have done more to help Ms Burgess-Dismuke, who was described as a “real nice lady”.
“She was already so far gone. One arm was already bit completely off, the other arm was barely hanging on by a piece of meat,” he said. “It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”
Greenville County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt Ryan Flood said first responders worked hard to save the victim, applying tourniquets to her arm to stem the flow of blood.
Senior Deputy Coroner Kent Dill said Ms Burgess-Dismuke “suffered multiple, extremely severe, dog bites to her upper arms resulting in a large volume of blood loss.”
She was rushed to hospital but died later that night.
Mr Whiteside said he would often see their neighbour put her arms inside their mouths while play-wrestling with the dogs.
However, many residents had been wary of the animals because they did “not believe they were well-trained”, he said.
Yesterday, the housemates told reporters they remained traumatised by what they had witnessed, with both experiencing flashbacks and difficulties sleeping.
“To see a person’s bones as the dogs attack, it really gets in your head,” Mr Long said. “All I could do was try my best to save her.”
The dogs, described by authorities as “boxer-mixes”, have been put down in the wake Friday’s attack, which remains under investigation by police and the coroner’s office.