2 unleashed dogs attack patron inside an Asheville bar

Millis Bryson, of Raleigh, said as he walked into Dalton Distillery, two dogs, who were off leash, ran up and began biting him. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Mission Hospital reports an increase in animal bite victims coming into the ER.

In April, there have been nine cases, three of which were dog bites. Two of those cases involve people bitten in Asheville on Tuesday.

One of them was 42-year-old Millis Bryson of Raleigh, who was bit as headed into one of his favorite watering holes in Asheville’s South Slope.

He said as he walked into Dalton Distillery, two dogs that were off-leash ran up and began biting him.

Bryson received a bite on his left thumb that required stitches. The gash was so bad, he said, that he began bleeding profusely as a second dog belonging to the same owner began biting his stomach.

“The black one jumped up on me first,” Bryson said. “But the white one came and went straight for my stomach.”

Bryson immediately began videotaping both dogs as they ran around in the bar.

Asheville had a dog-leash ordinance that states any dog in a public place, which would include bars, must be on a leash.

Bryson is clearly heard speaking to the dogs' owner after the attack. The man said his name was Zach, and he was heard apologizing.

But Bryson says what he needs to have is verification the man’s dogs have had rabies shots.

Bryson said the owner of Dalton Distillery texted him a photo of the dog owner’s Facebook page. However, that person did not return News 13’s requests for comment.

Bryson said the bar owner knows Zach’s last name because it’s written in a ledger patrons sign when they come in. The full name is clearly written in the ledger, and Bryson snapped a picture of it.

The Asheville Police Department only stated the dog owner’s first name in a news release asking for the public’s help in finding the man.

“I’m really worried because I’m diabetic,” said Bryson, who also had wounds on his arm and abdomen.

“He had a significant bite to his extremity, enough to where it required some suturing,” said Dr. Chris Flanders, Mission’s emergency department medical director. “Dog bites of this nature have a tendency to become infected.”

Bryson has no medical insurance, and said he’s been told the round of rabies shots could cost him between $5,000 and $10,000.

“This is my life,” Bryson said. “I don’t want to die. I don’t have that kind of money, but what choice do I have? People are trying to help me. I don’t have much time left to find out if the dogs have rabies, because of the incubation stage.”

As for the cost for the shots, Flanders said rabies vaccinations can end up costing a patient without insurance plenty.

“The pharmaceutical industry has certainly kept the cost of these immunizations quite high,” Flanders said.

Bryson was bitten about 10 p.m. Tuesday. Just hours earlier, on Pack Square, outside Posana restaurant, another tourist, Tom Deremer, from Nashville, was bitten on the hand by the dog of a person who might be a traveler. Travelers are homeless people who go from town to town, particularly in the spring and summer months.

Deremer said on Friday that he was going to forego getting the painful series of rabies shots. He said his doctor advised him it’s rare for dogs to have rabies, and that more often it’s wild animals that are infected.

However, Bryson, because of his diabetes, is afraid to take that chance.

He says he hopes someone, even anonymously, calls Asheville police, to help him avoid the expensive shots.

“The police are trying to hunt down the dogs, so I don’t have to get a rabies shot,” Bryson said. “I’m really worried.”

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