Eva Simons in the hospital during her recovery. [Courtesy of the GoFundMe campaign.]

Woman attacked by three dogs in Vinton County still in recovery while the dogs’ owners head towards a trial

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VINTON COUNTY, Ohio (WOUB) – A 64-year-old cyclist was attacked by a pack of dogs in Vinton County at the end of October. A month and a half later, she is now on the long road of recovery, having had one leg amputated above the knee, meanwhile, the owners of the dogs are headed to court to face misdemeanor charges.

Eva Simons was attacked by three dogs on Shea Road in Vinton County on Oct. 29. Simons had been mountain biking near Lake Hope State Park when she got a flat tire in an isolated area. She was walking the bike back and was 1.5 miles from her car when the dogs attacked.

Simons said she was pinned to the ground by the dogs and attacked for 20 minutes before two passersby stopped to help. They managed to get the dogs to flee according to a report from the Vinton County Sheriff’s office. Simons was taken to Hocking Valley Community Hospital, which transferred her to Grant Medical Center in Columbus for emergency surgery. 

According to a GoFundMe page for Simons, she has had multiple surgeries over the last month and her left leg was amputated above the knee. 

All three canines were put down and tested for rabies. Contrary to popular belief, it is not standard procedure to euthanize a dog after an attack. Athens County Health Commissioner James Gaskell says that in the 22 years he has worked with the Health Department only one dog has been put down after an attack and it was the choice of the dog’s owners, rather than a requirement of the Health Department. 

Owners of the dogs Cassandra Rhoads and Shaun Bartoe now each face three charges of failure to confine the dogs and failure to license the dogs. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13.

The attack suffered by Simons is atypical, as dog bites are rarely life-threatening according to Gaskell. 

“What happened with this poor individual is exceedingly rare. I can’t imagine how that happened,” Gaskell said.  

Most dog attacks occur with a dog the person is familiar with and typically there is a clear reason.

“Usually there’s some circumstance. The dog was provoked, the dog was surprised. There was an explanation for why it happened,” Gaskell said. 

Athens County Dog Warden Ryan Gillette says that if a situation arises like the attack in Vinton County then people should try to back away slowly and leave the area if at all possible. If that’s not an option, he recommends carrying precautionary equipment. 

“You have the ability to protect yourself. I would suggest carrying an air horn or some type of defense spray if you are going to be out in the woods alone. Be extra vigilant and extra aware of your surroundings and aware of the fact that it is always a possibility. It’s not always going to be just a dog, it could be anything.”

One of the biggest concerns with dog bites is rabies, a viral disease spread through the bite of a rabid animal. The disease infects the central nervous system and can be fatal. The concern with rabies is due to its severity, rather than the likelihood of contracting the disease.

Cases of rabies spreading to humans is incredibly rare, with only one to three cases reported annually across the country. In total, only 25 cases of rabies in humans have been reported in the last decade in the United States. 

The standard procedure in Ohio for dog bites is for the Health Department to contact the owner if the dog is known. The owner is then advised to quarantine the dog for 10 days to observe for rabies symptoms, which can include lethargy, fever, vomiting, excessive salivation and aggression, among others. 

After the 10 day observation, the dog is required to be checked by a veterinarian to verify that it does not have rabies. 

If the dog is unknown or is a stray the dog warden for the county will be dispatched to search for the animal. If it is found the dog is taken to the dog shelter for the 10 day observation. If the dog cannot be found the person who was attacked is given four doses of the rabies vaccine.