Fundraiser launched for girl injured by rabid dog

New charges brought against owner

By Heather Michon

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for a Fluvanna County girl injured by a rabid dog shortly before Christmas.

The girl, identified as “Erika,” was reportedly walking from the school bus to her home on Dec. 19 when then dog suddenly charged her. As a result of the attack, she lost the index finger on her dominant hand. Both she and her father were also forced to undergo weeks of post exposure shots to protect them from developing the fatal virus.

“After the attack, Erika did not feel safe in her own yard,” writes campaign organizer Kim Marston Barrett of Courtland, Virginia. “Her dad allowed her to pick out a fence that would make her feel safe so that she will only have a very short distance to get from the school bus to the gate before she was within her ‘safety zone.’”

The goal is to raise $10,000 for the new fence and to pay for additional medical and physical therapy expenses as the young woman recovers from the incident.

Tricia Johnson, a former Fluvanna SPCA director who has been deeply involved in community response to the attack, has seen some skepticism surrounding the fundraiser on social media.

She notes that it is concerns about the validity of the request are natural, but “in this instance, I can assure people this is a legitimate request for a family truly in need.”

The young woman is a “victim of someone else’s irresponsibility,” says Johnson, “and she will need a great deal of medical care to recover.” Like many households, the affected family will be hard-pressed to meet these sudden and unexpected costs.

“I have donated,” she said. “I hope many others will as well.”

The GoFundMe can be found at

New charges

The affected pit bull was euthanized by animal control officers shortly after the incident. Two other dogs and five cats were later seized from the owners and euthanized on Dec. 26 and 27. None were found to be infected with the rabies virus.

On Jan. 8, owner Ricahrd Shane Kelley was charged with four counts of failure to obtain a dog license and nine counts of failure to vaccinate for rabies. A single count of cruelty to animals was added on Jan. 16. Kelley will appear in Fluvanna General District Court in February.

Local animal protection groups responded to the attack by holding a free rabies vaccination clinic at Pleasant Grove in early January that resulted in the vaccination of 440 local pets.

Along with the victim and her family, several deputies and members of the community sought post-exposure vaccination. At the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 22, Dr. Denise Bonds of the Virginia Department of Health said her staff would issue an after-action report on the incident later this year.


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