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'If I don't fight, they're going to kill me,' Moore woman mauled by dogs recalls thinking

Posted July 27, 2021 6:15 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2021 12:11 a.m. EDT

— A woman mauled by four dogs in Moore County a week ago said Tuesday that thoughts of her two sons fueled her fight to survive the vicious attack.

Amber Garner said she was walking on N.C. Highway 24/27 in Robbins toward her boyfriend's house on July 21 when she heard dogs barking as she passed.

The next thing the 30-year-old mother knew, four boxer-mix dogs had knocked her to the ground and were tearing into her.

"They all started attacking me and took me down. I guess they fed off of each other – the aggression," she said.

Garner remembers the dogs dragging her toward the woods nearby.

"All I could think about was my babies, not being able to see them again," she said. "I remember thinking, 'You know, if I don’t fight, they’re going to kill me.'"

One of her ears was partially torn off, and she has stitches and surgical staples in her legs, arms and head.

"They were just dragging me. That’s why the wounds are so deep, I guess. I got up and ran, and they were still latched on," she said.

Garner said minutes felt like hours during the attack until a stranger pulled over along the highway and came to her rescue by honking her car horn and waving a stick at the dogs.

"When I saw her get out, it was like an angel, really, because I knew I was going to be saved," she said. "She got out and said, ‘You all get away from her.’"

Suzanne Luther, 71, said she saw the attack on the side of the highway and tried to help Garner however she could. After getting her away from the dogs, Luther drove her to a medical office in Robbins, where she was airlifted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

Garner said she she thanked Luther in a phone call this week and hopes to meet her soon. She said she believes she would be dead if Luther hadn't stopped to help.

She said she hasn't seen her sons, Braden and Bentlee, since the attack, saying she doesn't want them to see her injuries.

"I couldn’t walk for a few days. I still can’t do a lot of stuff, like I can’t really use my right arm. Somebody has to help me put my clothes on and off," she said.

As Garner slowly recovers, she said she's conflicted about the fate of the four dogs, which are expected to be put down.

"Animals are people’s pets, and it makes me feel bad," she said. "They just looked like normal dogs that you wouldn’t expect would do something like this."

Still, she said pet owners need to be responsible to prevent such an attack.

"You don’t ever know when they’re going to turn, but it’s how people raise animals, too. There’s no telling how they were raised," she said.

The dogs' owner, 46-year-old Gene Burton, has been charged with violating a county ordinance about allowing animals to run loose. Moore County authorities said Garner wasn't on Burton's property when she was attacked.

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