A Northern Virginia woman was killed when one of her pet dogs apparently engaged her automobile's gear shift and the car ran over her.

Prince William County police said Dora Louise Wagers, 66, died Monday in the driveway of her home near Manassas after the car dragged her approximately 30 feet, wedging her between the vehicle and a wood pile.

Authorities believe one of the small dogs, found in the car and "jumping all over the inside," had hit the automatic transmission lever while the car was left running and unattended.

"We don't know if it was in park or in neutral," said officer W.J. Van Cuyk. "There's no way for us to know now."

Van Cuyk said that Wagers, still dressed in her nightclothes, might have been snagged by a piece of chrome on the vehicle and drawn to the ground or might have seen the car rolling and had attemtped to climb in and stop it.

"We're still not sure how it happened," he said. "By the time we got there the car had traveled too far against the hedges to see how she got stuck. tThere weren't any witnesses."

Friends at the Wagers home yesterday said the two nonpedigreed dogs -- named Curly and Spanky -- had escaped from the fenced yard at the home and that Dora Wagers had been "driving around the neighborhood" in her 1971 Oldsmobile looking for them.

They believe that Wagers, a senior nurses' aide who worked nights at Commonwealth Doctors Hospital in Fairfax City, had found one of the dogs prior to the accident. She probably had located the second one near the driveway, they said, and left the car to fetch it.

Her husband, Glenn, an electrical engineer, was at work at the time. A neighbor who notified police became concerned when she noticed the car off the driveway.

Friends said the Wagers had owned Spanky and Curly about two years and could not remember the dogs ever leaving the yard before. It was not known which one might have tripped the gears and both dogs were home again yesterday. w

"Nothing's happened to them," a friend said. "They [the Wagers] were very attached to them. They didn't have any children."