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Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Child, Critically Injure Another Child, on Way to School Bus Stop in Atlanta

Pit Bull Owner Charged with Felony Involuntary Manslaughter

Logan Braatz - atlanta pit bull attackSyrai Sanders - atlanta pit bull attack
Cameron Tucker - Pit Bull Ownervigil grows after Atlanta pit bull attack
Logan Braatz, 6, Syrai Sanders, 5, Cameron Tucker (pit bull owner) and memorial near the attack.

City Leaders Respond
UPDATE 01/19/17: On Tuesday morning in southwest Atlanta, a group of children walked along Cerro Street on their way to the school bus stop when two loose pit bulls launched a horrifying attack. The dogs eviscerated 6-year old Logan Braatz, who did not survive his injuries, and critically injured 5-year old Syrai Sanders -- the pit bulls ripped off her scalp. Both children were students at F.L. Stanton Elementary. The aftermath of this attack was captured by aerial footage.

The owner of the pit bulls, Cameron Tucker, was taken into custody and charged with several misdemeanors. The charges were upgraded the next day to include involuntary manslaughter, a felony. Tucker's next court appearance is scheduled for February 1, according to news reports. Two witnesses on scene, Angie Smith and Shamonta Clayton, provided chilling accounts about what happened that morning. A formal community vigil is planned for Saturday on Stafford Street.

Response from City Officials

In the wake of this savage attack, the Atlanta Public School system (APS) announced that it would add a new bus stop. "APS Transportation immediately conducted a safety assessment and plans to add a new bus stop within the one-mile walk zone to ensure the safety of our students," states the release provided to WSB-TV. The children in the neighborhood previously had to walk past an abandoned house and through some woods to reach the bus stop, according to Logan's uncle.

Just hours after the deadly attack, Atlanta City leaders began discussing legislation to prevent future maulings. Councilwoman Keisha Bottoms introduced legislation that recognizes local governments can enact stricter dog regulations than the minimum standards of state law. These new regulations have not yet been determined, but ideas include restricting owners of dangerous breeds from living near a school or school bus stop, or requiring these owners to have a fence.
"These children are living in fear, rightfully so. These dogs are predators." - Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Bottoms, Fox 5 Atlanta, January 18, 2017
Bottoms promised that over the next week, councilmembers would discuss the dangerous dog issue on many levels. "We are going to delve into state law, county law, city law and see what, if anything, we can do and it is absolutely of no solace to this family, but I do hope that it will at least stop this from ever happening again," said Bottoms. Two days after the deadly attack, Bottoms met with nervous neighbors close to where the attack happened and promised to contact APS.

"Border Collie" and "Unidentified Breed"

Six or seven hours after the horrific attack on Tuesday -- after many news articles were already published, along with photographs and video of the two pit bulls -- Fulton County Animal Control relayed information via phone to reporters that the dogs involved in the attack were a pit bull-mix, "border collie" and "unidentified breed." The police report stated the two dogs involved are a pit bull and pit bull-mix. Fulton County Animal Control alone is culpable for this grave obfuscation.

In high profile fatal dog attacks, we understand that information can initially be relayed poorly or even incorrectly, but in this case it is a sham. The police report states the correct breeds of dogs, a pit bull -- the bloody black dog -- and a pit bull-mix, the white and black dog. Images of both dogs were captured before, during and after being loaded into the animal control truck. A third dog was also seized by animal control, apparently a poor border collie, but no media images captured it.

CBS46 spoke with Tucker's attorney, who said that Tucker lives with his fiance, mother, mother-in-law, and six-month-old daughter. "The two other family members that are a part of the family are the two dogs that are in custody," attorney Cinque Axam said. The family does not own three dogs -- just the two the media captured being taken into custody. Also, though the white and black pit bull-mix is not pictured in Tucker's 2012 Facebook post, the coloring indicates close lineage.

scene of deadly pit bull attack southwest atlanta

01/18/17: Involuntary Manslaughter
The owner of two dogs that killed a boy and severely injured a girl is now facing a felony charge. On Wednesday, Cameron Tucker was charged with felony involuntary manslaughter in connection to the death of 6-year old Logan Braatz. A judge set his bond to $70,000. The surviving child, 5-year old Syrai Sanders, remains hospitalized. Officials said the dogs severed her scalp from her skull. A witness who saw the child after the attack said, "Her face was totally dismembered."

Another witness, Shamonta Clayton, who carried Logan's body to the ambulance, also described Syrai's injuries. "I run up on the little girl and she had been mauled very badly -- the dog just had ripped into her," he said. Then he saw Logan, his unconscious body lying in the grass. "I picked the child's body up, because his mom couldn't do nothing except to sit there and cry. I carried his bloody body to the ambulance," he said. Clayton also said the dogs commonly roamed the area.
"If a prosecutor is aggressive, they could charge him with cruelty to children in the second degree. And for any child that dies, bring it up to murder." - Attorney Page Pate, (WXIA), January 18, 2017
Also, despite numerous images of the dogs taken by the media yesterday, Fulton County Animal Control claims that of the three dogs, one is a "border collie" and the other is an "unidentified breed." Tucker is not a border collie type, but he is a pit bull type, according to his own Facebook page. We do not know which dog animal control is claiming to be a border collie or unidentified breed. If it is the white and black pit bull-mix that would be an outrageous and deliberate distortion.
A memorial fund has been created for Logan Braatz to help his family pay funeral costs.

01/17/17: Children Identified
On Tuesday, as a group of children walked along Cerro Street in southwest Atlanta to their school bus stop, up to three loose pit bulls brutally attacked them. Logan Braatz, 6-years old, died of his injuries. Syrai Sanders, 5-years old, suffered horrific facial damage. Angie Smith, who witnessed part of the attack said the little girl's "face was totally dismembered." Syrai is being treated at Egleston Hospital. A third child sustained minor injuries in the attack, according to police.

The owner of the pit bulls, Cameron Tucker, was arrested on two misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct. Police shot and hit one pit bull that tried to flee the scene, the black dog. The animal was later captured. A white and black pit bull was also taken into custody. Investigators are trying to determine if a third pit bull (belonging to someone else) was also involved in the deadly mauling. The children attended F.L. Stanton Elementary. Earlier the school released this statement:
"Atlanta Public Schools can confirm that two F.L. Stanton Elementary students walking to the bus stop were attacked by pitbulls. Both students were transported to Egleston Hospital. One student was transported back to Grady Hospital’s trauma unit and later passed away. The female student at Egleston is in stable condition. Atlanta Public Schools sent a crisis team to F.L. Stanton this morning to provide grief counseling for students and staff. Our deepest condolences go out to the family." - F.L. Stanton Elementary School

SIDEBAR: We were shocked earlier to see that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had named the breed in their report, much less in their headline -- that is how pit bull sympathetic they are, and have been for years. In their latest update, at the bottom of the article is a large video of a shelter pit bull with a message on the front: "A majority of pit bulls in shelters have no history of violence, their owners voluntarily surrender them." Pimping for pit bulls after these brutal child maulings!

A major regional newspaper in Georgia is perpetuating the Nanny Dog myth and pleading, "Dear public, please adopt our unwanted shelter pit bulls," after two pit bulls savagely attacked and killed a little boy and "dismembered" a little girl's face. The most recent medical study highlighting the severity of pit bull injuries was a retrospective review of 1616 consecutive child dog bite injuries at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston (CHOA) where both injured children were sent.

01/17/17: Pit Bulls Kill Child
Atlanta, GA - Pit bulls killed one child and critically injured another as they walked to school Tuesday morning. A third child was also injured, but his condition is unclear. The children were ages 5 to 6 years old. The deadly attack occurred in the 1200 block of Gideons Drive in southwest Atlanta at about 7:20 am. Three pit bulls killed a little boy and critically injured a girl. Neighbors flew outside after awaking to screams. Aerial footage captured the horrific aftermath of the attack.
"I looked down at her to see what I could do for her. And when I looked at her, I knew that there was nothing I could do." - Witness Angie Smith
Police officers shot and killed one pit bull and the two others were taken into custody by animal control. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that authorities have arrested the dogs' owner. Sgt. Warren Pickard said the children were walking with a group of children to school when the pit bulls attacked. "We had some brave kids. Some kids ran back to the scene to try to pull the dogs off the children that were injured," Pickard said. Neighbors also intervened to rescue the children.

WGCL-TV reports the children attend F.L. Stanton Elementary School, and were walking to their school bus stop when they were attacked. Aerial footage from a chopper shows a white and black pit bull sitting in a nearby driveway. A black pit bull, photographed on a nearby porch, was also involved, according to police. The dogs lived about a block away from the attack, police said. Fox 5 reports neighbors rushed to the scene with a baseball bat and knives to stop the mauling.
Angie Smith speaks to reporters near the scene (@johnspink):
      Smith: "I ran to the baby and I said, I looked down at her to see what I could do for her. And when I looked at her, I knew that there was nothing I could do."
      Reporter: "Was she gone at that point?"
      Smith: "I couldn’t tell if she was gone. I just knew, she had on a jacket and a book bag so I couldn't tell if she was breathing or not. I think that kind of saved her skin. I knew that her face was totally dismembered.
      Reporter: "Have you ever seen the dogs before?"
      Smith: "I actually saw the dogs Saturday. They were running around. I told myself, 'I should call the humane society because dogs are just roaming. But by the time they get here, the dogs will probably be gone and they don't usually look for them.' And so, I did not call. This is just so unfortunate.
      Reporter: "Did you hear anything beforehand?"
      Smith: "Yes. I heard the kids screaming. The kids were screaming very loudly, but they usually in the morning -- because they walk to the bus stop -- they are sometimes loud and they are playing, they are chasing each other. So, I sat there for a couple of seconds, because I was like, maybe the kids are playing. But after a few minutes, maybe two minutes or so, I realized that the kids weren't playing. It was a different kind of cry. It was a different kind of screaming. Then I heard adults screaming as well, so that prompted me to come outside."
thee pit bulls kill child atlanta going to school scene of deadly pit bull attack southwest atlanta
map iconView the Google Map: Georgia Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

Related articles:
10/10/16: Special Report: Level 1 Trauma Center Dog Bite Studies in All U.S. Geographical...
08/04/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Mauled to Death by Her Boyfriend's Pit Bull in Georgia 12/12/13: Video: Mother of Fatal Pit Bull Attack Victim Shares Story with State Representative
05/23/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Fulton County Infant Killed by Family Pit Bull

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Infant Killed by Family Dog in San Marcos, Texas

san marcos family dog kills infant
2-month old Skylar Dean Julius died after being attacked by the family dog.

Father Refused Tests
UPDATE 01/20/17: The San Marcos Police Department issued an update today. Investigators continue to await autopsy results from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office about an infant that was killed by the family German shepherd Tuesday. "Preliminary findings do not show old trauma, such as previous broken bones, bruising, or other injuries, that could be indicative of prior abuse, or other indicators of injury that would be suspicious to investigators," states the release.
The father would not consent to testing for drugs or alcohol. - San Marcos PD
"Police found that there was not enough probable cause to obtain a warrant for blood tests on the father for drugs or alcohol. The father would not consent to testing for drugs or alcohol," states the release, which certainly appears to be a huge red flag. Many people are wondering how the father slept through this horrible event. The investigation remains active and ongoing. The results of the investigation will be sent to the Hays County District Attorney’s office for review, states the release.

01/18/17: Infant Killed by Dog
San Marcos, TX - Police are investigating after a 2-month old baby was killed by a family dog. Authorities identified the baby girl as Skylar Dean Julius. Animal control officers impounded a German shepherd that was inside the home. On January 17, at about 1:30 pm, police and EMS were dispatched to the 1000 block of Sagewood Trail for a report of a baby with "numerous animal bites." She was transported to Central Texas Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

The father told police he fell asleep while the baby was sleeping in a bouncer bassinet next to him on the couch. He woke up about 20 minutes later and found her cold to the touch, unresponsive and on the floor. San Marcos Police Department Commander Kelly Earnest said 911 dispatchers helped the father administer CPR over the phone. The dog bites were mainly concentrated in her abdomen area, Earnest said. The family had owned the German shepherd for more than 8-years.

Earnest said the baby's mother was not home when the fatal attack occurred; she was at work. The infant's death continues to be an active investigation. Autopsy results from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office in Austin are expected in the coming days. Child Protection Services is also investigating her death, which is routine when a child this young dies in a home. There were no other children living in the home. The family had recently moved to the area, Earnest said.

CBS Austin shows the news conference given by Earnest. The family had raised the male dog since it was a puppy, she said. The family told her it did not have a history of aggression. Police had never been called to the home before and they did not find anything suspicious at the scene, she said. When asked by a reporter how a father could sleep through this event, she said, "Still very new. Those are questions we would love to know, but they are unanswered at this point."

Texas Dog Bite Victims' Advocacy - Join our Texas email list to stay informed

Related articles:
02/09/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Newborn Dies After Being Bitten by Family Dog
04/29/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Rehomed by Humane Society Kills Newborn Baby
06/29/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: 3-Day Old Baby Killed by Uncle's Dogs in Fresno, California

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Bodycam Video Shows First 3 Minutes After Pit Bull Attack; Police Officer Rescues Victim and Provides Comfort

"Just Lean On Me" - Cleveland Heights Police Officer

Cleveland Heights pit bull attack first 3 minutes
Caution dog attack victims! This video may cause you to relive your attack.

Raw Bodycam Video - Nearly one year ago today, on January 24, 2016, a Cleveland Heights police officer rescued a young woman who had just been attacked by a vicious pit bull. Prior to reaching the victim, the officer shot and killed the violent animal. Several days later, the Cleveland Heights Police Department released this dramatic bodycam video showing how this officer came to her aid. The young woman is not gravely injured, and surely is partly why they chose to release it.
This video is not intended for dog attack victims. It is for victims to send to friends and family who do not understand the gravity of your attack.
The immediate and stunning raw footage shows the first three minutes after the attack. The young woman is in shock and believes she is dying. Nearly all victims of serious dog attacks believe they are dying; that is how violent these attacks are. The police officer tells the victim she is going to be okay. "Stay with me, look at me, look at me, stay with me. You're okay," he says. He quickly tells her too that the life-threatening event is over. "The dog's right there. It's dead. I had to shoot it."
      An officer arrived and saw the dog biting the woman's arm. The dog then jumped on the woman and tried to bite her neck.
      The officer pushed the dog off the woman. The dog charged at him, and he fired a shot that hit the animal's neck, the report says.
      The dog backed off before trying to attack the officer again. The officer fired a second shot that hit the dog below its eye. The dog collapsed. -, January 29, 2016
After we watched this video last year, and cried a thousand tears, we wrote to the Cleveland Heights Police Department, thanking them for releasing it. At that time we did not place it on the blog, fearing too many of our readers who have suffered a serious dog attack would react the same way. That fear still holds true today. This video is so tactile that it may cause victims to relive their own attack. We mean that too. It could unleash a torrent of powerful emotions and tears.

The video shows the vulnerability of a traumatized victim and the comforting words of this officer, "Just lean on me." That is truly how it happens and what first responders do every second of every day in our country when responding to life-threatening emergencies. In this instance, the officer arrived just in time too, shooting the pit bull and averting additional injuries. But arriving just in time is not always possible and is another reason why some cities regulate this dog breed.

The video also shows how the officer helps the victim breath. "In your nose, out your mouth. In your nose, out your mouth," he says while placing his hand on her shoulder to stabilize her. "Stay awake for me. The ambulance is coming," the officer says. At this time (about 2 minutes and 20 seconds in), more police officers arrive and a siren is faintly heard in the background. The officer quickly explains to the others what happened. The bodycam video ends when the firemen arrive.
Portion of our letter to Cleveland Heights Police Chief:
      There are two extremely jarring, but heavenly moments in a violent dog attack. The moment you realize you are not dead, and the moment you realize you will be okay. That is exactly what that video showed and the part of my own attack experience that came back to me. The victim had not reached this point yet, but the officer had and the viewing audience had too. We knew she was safe and was going to be okay.
      Watching the officer help this young woman was just sheer powerful awesomeness! Up close, intimate and hands on. The way it really goes down!
      Thank you and God bless the Cleveland Heights Police Department! - Colleen Lynn, Founder of, January 29, 2016
A day after the news media aired the raw footage, Chante Pray, 22, spoke with Fox 8 Cleveland. She describes the attack as the media cuts back to the video. "I'm dying, that's all I could think was, that I was dying," she said. The dog was "clamping down tighter" as she struggled to get away, she explained. Pray was amazingly able to call 911 and shout out the address. Moments later, Cleveland Heights police officer Everett Haworth arrived on scene and shot the pit bull.

Holding back tears, Pray says, "I really appreciate the officer saving me, because if he wouldn't have saved me, I wouldn't be with my daughter. My daughter would not have a mom." At the time of the attack, the pit bull was "supposed" to be in quarantine after biting a child on January 13. Pray knows the dog's owner and believes the false myth, "It's all how they're raised." After Pray was attacked, police cited the owner for keeping a vicious dog and failing to have insurance.
This story is not over. Several days later, Pray thanks Officer Haworth in person at the police station, where she runs into an unexpected event.
On February 2, Pray and her mother went to the Cleveland Heights Police Department bearing gifts. They brought him balloons, stuffed animals, a photo of Pray with her daughter and a box of chocolates. At about one minute into the sweet reunited video, a police K-9 passes behind Pray with an officer. Like a sudden rogue wave, a blanket of fear engulfs her. She lets out a long breath. Pray said it was the first contact she had with a dog since the pit bull attack on January 24.1

Pray's mother thanked Officer Haworth as well. "You were there, pretty much almost stroking her hair, telling her everything was going to be okay. You were there when I couldn't be," Michelle Augustine-McClendon said. Officer Haworth replied that he did what he thought she needed. "She'd just been through something pretty traumatic," he said. Now Pray and her mother call Officer Haworth a "guardian angel." He says he was simply keeping his oath to protect and serve.

Marginalizing Victims

Many parts of our society marginalize victims of dog attacks and their injuries, even times family members and friends. Some go beyond marginalizing them by blaming them too, because in their minds, a dog cannot be a bad actor. This societal influence is so strong that even some victims cannot call a vicious dog a bad actor -- like Pray, who blamed the dog's owner for its actions. Pray also stated the pit bull "was not letting go," a trait the dog was selectively bred to perform.
Our call to action for victims is to share this blog post with those who marginalize or fail to grasp the gravity of your traumatic dog attack.
We know of only three groups who will not marginalize dog attack victims in any way. The first are the emergency responders who arrive at the scene, just like this video shows. The next are the medical doctors who treat the victims' injuries, which may include a long list of doctors with different specialties. The third are the personal injury attorneys who take their case -- assuming a case exists at all. Many dog bite victims have no case because the dog's owner lacks insurance.

The Power of this Video

In the 9 years of, we have never seen a video as powerful as this one. It took us a full year before we were able to write about it too. This is the reality, in real time, showing what happens when first responders arrive to a 911 call about a vicious dog attack. In this case, after Pray was able to scream into her cell phone the location of the attack. Do not forget to look at the snow tracks and blood below either, which shows the struggle and violence during this attack.

Pit Bull Attack Desota Avenue cleveland heights
pit bull attack Officer Haworth and Chante Pray

Editorial note: We greatly thank Fox 8 Cleveland for following up and showing the full version of this honest and heartfelt story. Very seldom does a pit bull attack have a happy ending in this way. We again thank the Cleveland Heights Police Department for releasing this powerful video, and for the valor and amazing care by Officer Everett Haworth. We cried another thousand tears writing this post; they were bittersweet tears of pain and relief. As Chante Pray nears the first anniversary of her attack -- which is the hardest one of all -- our hearts go out to her. We hope she is surrounded by loving family on this day.

1On may truly have to be a dog attack victim to understand the magnitude of fear and the expression on Pray's face when the police K-9 passes by. This response would be to any medium or large-sized dog independent of breed.

Related articles:
01/02/17: Pit Bull Named 'Scarface' Mauls Family After Owner Tries to Put a Sweater on Dog
11/29/16: Doctors Restore Little Girl's Face After Disfiguring Pit Bull Mauling; a Miraculous...
10/10/16: Special Report: Level 1 Trauma Center Dog Bite Studies in All U.S. Geographical...
10/10/16: Table: Retrospective Level 1 Trauma Center Studies of Dog Bite Injuries Published...

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2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Dies, Woman Seriously Injured, After Vicious Attack by Police Officer's 'Personal' Dogs

One of the Dogs, a Belgian Malinois, Was a Dual-Certified Police K-9

david fear killed by police k9Former deputy Alex Geiger performing K9 demo
david fear vigildavid fear vigil
On December 13, a police K-9 escaped its property and attacked two people killing one.

Lobbied for K-9 Program
UPDATE 01/16/17: In a disturbing update by The Tribune -- one that was hinted at in an earlier report -- Officer Alex Geiger quickly lobbied for a police K-9 program at Grover Beach after being hired. "One month before his police-trained pet dog attacked two Grover Beach residents, killing one of them, newly hired city police Officer Alex Geiger presented the police chief with a 140-page guide explaining how to form a K-9 unit in a small police department," reports The Tribune.

Police Chief John Peters had previously told The Tribune that his department had "internally explored" adding a K-9 officer, but that it had "no interest" in Geiger's personal dog. After a public records request, The Tribune was able to view the "binder" that Geiger and Senior Police Officer Matte Goodman submitted to Peters on November 10 -- a month after he was sworn in and a month before his dual-certified police K-9 killed David Fear and seriously injured Betty Long.
"It is our hope that you consider moving forward in putting a K-9 team together for Grover Beach Police Department," states the proposal.
Part of the materials submitted to Peters by Geiger and Goodman included the estimated initial costs of a K-9 program, state certification guidelines, various grant opportunities, a list of specialized K-9 vehicles, a copy of the Arroyo Grande Police Department's K-9 policy and articles about "establishing a new K-9 unit for a small department," reports The Tribune. All backed by officer Geiger, the city's recent hire, who had a "freshly out of work" dual-certified police K-9.

While the city of Grover Beach tries to distance itself from any liability issues from the December 13 attack, we continue to wonder about Geiger's short stay at Exeter. He was a newbie K-9 officer on that police force, active for only a year before taking a job at Grover Beach, a city with no police K-9 unit. If Geiger's dual-certified K-9 had behavioral or training issues, they started while he was employed by Exeter. Geiger also left Exeter before his K-9's annual re-certification was due.
The dual re-certification (in detection and patrol operations) for his police K-9 named Neo was due in November and December respectively.
Geiger left the Exeter police K-9 unit in August, three months earlier, and paid the city of Exeter a mere $5,287 to keep his dual-certified police K-9. Geiger began working for the city of Grover Beach in September. CalCoastNews notes that law enforcement agencies typically require officers to work for 7-years or longer before joining a K-9 unit and that sources from within the Exeter Police Department also told CalCoastNews that "Neo had some training and behavioral issues."1

01/05/17: Dual-Certified Police K-9
In response to The Tribune's exclusive article about officer Alex Geiger's previous employment and his dog's previous role as a trained police K-9 with the Exeter Police Department, the city of Exeter issued a news release Wednesday night explaining more about the dog's background. The dog was a "dual-certified" police K-9 -- trained in narcotics detection and patrol operations. Geiger purchased this "fully trained" and "dual-certified" police K-9 for a mere $5,287 before departing.
This police K-9 was trained in narcotics detection and patrol work -- obedience, search, apprehension and handler protection (bite work).
Geiger left the Exeter Police Department's K-9 unit in August 2016. Exeter police Chief Cliff Bush said Wednesday that his "working police dog," named Neo, had completed all training in narcotics detection and patrol work in 2015. Geiger, as the dog's handler, had also completed "monthly maintenance training" at the Exeter Police Department until he departed to work for Grover Beach, a city that has no police K-9 unit. The city of Grover Beach hired Geiger in September 2016.

On December 13, Geiger's Belgian malinios, Neo, a dual-certified police K-9 in detection and patrol work (bite work), escaped Geiger's property and attacked Betty Long, 85. Her neighbor David Fear, 64, intervened to save her life. Fear suffered life-threatening injuries, including two arteries in his arms being severed; he died three days later while hospitalized. Long suffered serious bite injuries and broken bones from falling. She remains in a rehabilitation facility.
The kennel where the police K-9 was bred and later acquired by the city of Exeter, and the dog's POST-certified trainer, have yet to be identified.
Time Line of Events
  • 2009 - Alex Geiger serves as an Explorer with the Visalia Police Department.
  • 2012 to 2013 - July to July. Geiger serves as a provisional deputy with the Kings County Sheriff’s Office (where he is seen in photo doing a K-9 bite work demo)
  • 2014 - August. Geiger joins the Exeter Police Department as a provisional officer.
  • 2015 - July. Geiger becomes a full-time police officer with the Exeter Police Department in Tulare County, California.
  • 2015 - September. Geiger becomes a K-9 handler with the Exeter Police Department. This same month, the city acquires police K-9 "Neo" (1.5 years old)
  • 2015 - November/December. Neo becomes "dual certified" in narcotics detection and patrol work (bite work).
  • 2016 - January to August. - Geiger completes 16 hours of maintenance training each month, half of this time with a POST-certified trainer.
  • 2016 - August. Geiger pays city of Exeter $5,287 to keep his "fully" trained, "dual-certified" police K-9 in narcotics detection and patrol work.
  • 2016 - August. Geiger departs the Exeter Police Department as a member of its K-9 unit. No explanation as to why.
  • 2016 - September. Gieger is hired by the city of Grover Beach as a police officer. Grover Beach does not have a K-9 unit.
  • 2016 - September. Geiger moves into a "rented" home on Owens Court, one block from the scene of the deadly attack.
  • 2016 - October 3. Geiger is officially sworn in at a Grover Beach City Council meeting.
  • 2016 - December 13. Geiger's dogs (Neo, the primary attacker, and a German shepherd) escape his property and viciously attack David Fear and Betty Long.
  • 2016 - December 15. Animal Services Director Eric Anderson issues news release stating that the Belgian Malinois -- and a German shepherd owned by Geiger -- were not connected to the Grover Beach Police Department.
  • 2016 - December 16. David Fear dies of his injuries. Long remains in rehabilitation care.
  • 2016 - December 19. City of Grover Beach places Geiger on paid administrative leave.
  • 2016 - December 22. City of Grover finally releases the name of dogs' owner, police officer Alex Geiger, to the public. City does not provide any information on the dog's training.
  • 2017 - January 4. The Tribune publishes an exclusive article, detailing Geiger's previous employment and that his dog was a trained police K-9.
  • 2017 - January 4. City of Exeter responds with a news release that expands upon the dog's training -- Neo is "dual-certified" in narcotics detection and patrol work (apprehension, protection and bite work).
  • 2017 - January 5. Grover Beach taxpayers continue to pay Geiger's salary, as he remains on paid administrative leave.

01/04/17: Trained Police K-9
It has been confirmed the Belgian malinios belonging to Grover Beach police officer Alex Geiger, which killed David Fear and seriously injured Betty Long in December, was trained as a police K-9. The Tribune's exclusive report also details Geiger's background. Since 2009, Geiger had worked for three different police forces prior to being hired by the city of Grover Beach in September 2016, including the Exeter Police Department, where Geiger was a member of its police K-9 unit.

In July 2015, Geiger became a full-time police officer with the Exeter Police Department and was a member of its K-9 unit when he departed in August 2016. On Tuesday, Exeter Police Chief Cliff Bush confirmed that Geiger was a handler for a police K-9 named "Neo" while working in Exeter. The dog came into the department with "basic training" and entered a Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified K-9 program with Geiger as his handler, according to Chief Bush.
Geiger purchased the dog from the city of Exeter before he moved to Grover Breach. Bush declined to say if "Neo" passed the POST training.
POST Law Enforcement K-9 Guidelines

While we do not know exactly what "basic training" entails -- Bush did not provide these details -- a California document, POST Law Enforcement K-9 Guidelines, describes performing activities of IPO protection training for certification in patrol work, including: obedience, search, apprehension and handler protection -- bite work (See: pages 17 and 18). The guidelines are divided into two parts, patrol and detection -- the latter does not assume the police K-9 is also trained in bite work.

What is known is that Geiger purchased the Belgian malinois, which is a strong indicator -- especially in conjunction with the vague training information provided by Bush -- the malinois failed the POST certification program. Many of these dogs become "personal" dogs for their handlers after failing or retiring. The Tribune has filed a public records request with the city of Exeter to learn if the dog completed the POST training, served as a K-9 officer or failed the program.

Dizzying Array of Police K-9 Lawsuits

Back in 2013, we began tracking civil lawsuits involving police K-9s attacking bystanders and children and when being deployed on minor offenders. We started with multiple lawsuits in the Seattle area, as well as Vancouver, B.C., which came under fire for their deployment tactics. There have been many other lawsuits since. Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "Bite and Hold" could be viewed as excessive force as well, a violation of the 4th Amendment.

We express again just how serious apprehension and bite trained police K-9's are, whether on active duty or retired! These are advanced training levels, but certainly fit the age of Geiger's malinois of 2.5 years old. "Basic training," which we know the dog underwent, includes agility training, according to, where the dogs learn how to scale fences and walls. Geiger's malinois belonged in a locked six-sided enclosure inside his locked fenced-in backyard.

12/22/16: Police Officer Named
After over a week of withholding the identity of a Grover Beach police officer whose dogs escaped his property and attacked two people, killing one and seriously injuring the other, city officials released his name. Alex Geiger, 25, was identified by the Grover Beach Police Department Thursday as the owner of the dogs. Geiger is a four year law enforcement veteran and was hired by the city of Grover Beach in September. Officer Geiger remains on paid administrative leave.

Geiger previously worked as a deputy in the Kings County Sheriff’s Office, which has a police canine unit. Geiger released a prepared statement Thursday, along with the Grover Beach Police Officers Association, both calling it a "tragic incident." The association went further calling it a "tragic and unusual incident." City officials released no information about the history or training of the Belgian malinios belonging to Geiger that nearly killed two innocent people December 13.

In 2013, former Kings County Deputy Alex Geiger performed a demo with police K9 officer "Bos" at an Easter Egg hunt in Hanford.2 Geiger is not this dog's handler, but he is clearly connected with police K-9s and their training. Geiger is well aware that these are extremely serious animals. It seems safe to assume at this point that Geiger's malinois is from protection-bred stock and is likely protection trained as well. One of these dogs loose in a neighborhood is a recipe for disaster.

K9 demo Kings County Deputy Sheriff Alex Geiger in 2013

12/20/16: Officer Placed on Paid Leave
Late Monday it was reported that the owner of a dog that viciously attacked two people, killing one and seriously injuring the other, has been placed on paid administrative leave. The owner is an unidentified Grover Beach police officer. Last week his two dogs, a Belgian malinios and German shepherd, escaped his property and attacked 85-year old Betty Long and 64-year old David Fear. Fear had stepped into save the elderly woman. He died of his severe injuries three days later.

The primary aggressor was the Belgian malinios, a breed frequently used in police K-9 work. The unnamed officer surrendered that dog to animal control; it has since been euthanized. The owner agreed to quarantine the German shepherd until the investigation is over. It unclear what level of involvement the shepherd had in the violent attack. It's also unclear why the city of Grover Beach waited nearly a week after the attack before placing the officer on paid administrative leave.

San Luis Obispo County Animal Services is leading the investigation. The Grover Beach Police Department is not commenting on the investigation and does not have a police canine unit. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department is involved in the investigation and does have a canine unit.3 It is unknown if the attacking malinios owned by the unidentified officer is a retired police K-9, if it was trained in protection work or if it has a history of attacking people or pets.

Identification Questions

Some readers might believe that by not naming this dog owner, authorities are giving this police officer special treatment. However, dog owners are often not named in fatal dog attacks by authorities or the media, unless criminal charges apply. Other times, owners will openly talk to the media -- they always have that choice. Generally, withholding the owner's name makes it extremely difficult for the community to know if the dog had a history of aggression or attacks.

Journalists, our nonprofit and others often cannot proceed with research and fact-finding without this information. This horrific dog attack is a special case scenario too. Does the public have the right to know this officer's name after his "personal" dog killed a man and seriously injured a woman? We believe it best serves the public interest that he is identified, along with the history of his Belgian malinios. Otherwise, this obvious missing information only serves to further rumors.

Victim's Family Reaches Out

Yesterday a relative of Fear left a heartbreaking comment on a post at this website. In the comment, his sister-in-law states that Betty Long, whose life was saved by Fear's actions, could hear him crying out, "Help! Help! They're eating me!" over and over again. Her comment was left on the four year anniversary post of this nonprofit's founder. Our hearts go out to his wife Terri and all of his family members. This was a vicious, horrific attack that could have killed two people.
"I am David Fear's sister-in-law, and you wrote the clearest article recalling all that has transpired since his mauling and death. My husband has horrifically lost his best friend and brother. We all are devastated when we consider the horror he went through. His neighbor whom he saved could hear him crying out, "Help! Help! They're eating me!" over and over again. I read the same words in your recount."
Close family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help David Fear's wife.

12/17/16: Man Dies After Dog Attack
Grover Beach, CA - Late Friday, 64-year old David Fear died after being viciously attacked by one or more dogs earlier this week. A spokesman at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center confirmed his death today. The dogs first attacked his neighbor, 85-year old Betty Long. Fear intervened to help save her life. Fear suffered critical dog bite injuries, including two arteries in his arms being severed. Long suffered serious bite injuries and broken bones from falling. Both were hospitalized.
The two dogs -- a Belgain malinois and German shepherd -- belong to a Grover Beach police officer. The malinois is the primary attacker.
The attack occurred Tuesday outside of Long's home on Nacimiento Avenue. The two victims are next-door neighbors. The San Luis Obispo County Department of Animal Services identified the 2.5 year old Belgain malinois -- typically used in police K-9 work -- as the main aggressor. The dog was surrendered by its owner and euthanized Tuesday. The other dog remains with its owner. The unnamed Grover Beach police officer who owns both dogs was away at the time of the attack.

Grover Beach does not have a police canine program and neither of the dogs were city-owned, according to Eric Anderson, the manager of San Luis Obispo County Animal Services. What is unknown, however, is if the malinois is a retired police K-9 from a different city or county or if it was trained in protection work. The Grover Beach police department has referred all questions to Animal Services. Neighbors said the dogs' owner had only lived in the neighborhood a short while.

A close friend of Fear initially created a GoFundMe page to help pay the cost of his medical bills. The goal of the fund has since changed to help Fear's wife pursue a legal case against the dog's owner. Long, who suffered multiple broken bones and staples in her head from falling, is expected to be discharged from the hospital today. Ron Yukelson, a spokesperson for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, said that Fear’s family plans to issue a statement about his death later in the day.

Family Releases Statement

Saturday evening, David Fear's family did release a statement. His brother, Steve Fear, earlier described his injuries to as so severe that two arteries in his arms were severed, contributing to him losing six pints of blood. The city of Grover Beach also released a statement, "a tragic and unfortunate dog attack has brought sadness to our hearts," it states in part. The city's words fall flat, especially if the dog was a retired police K-9 or was trained in protection work.
"Despite the tireless efforts of the Sierra Vista medical team, David Fear lost his battle for life late Friday evening. Our entire family offers the most sincere gratitude for the selfless dedication of David's world-class doctors, nurses, support technicians, and blood donors who gave us the opportunity to spend his last moments with us in his time of need. We truly appreciate the support and heartfelt sentiments of our community. The family will announce memorial plans in due time and asks that privacy be respected for the time being." - Family of David Fear
david fear dog attack
david fear dog attack grover beach

1Well that would be a mild understatement now wouldn't it? We can only imagine there were "handler" training and behavioral issues as well.
2"Bos" is depicted as the center dog on the Kings County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit page.
3Notably, last year a "highly trained K-9 officer" named "DJ" of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office mistakenly attacked a California Highway Patrol officer while in pursuit of a suspect. Afterward, DJ was taken off duty for two weeks and placed under an in-house quarantine to see if the K-9 had "any ill effects from the incident."

Related articles:
11/19/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: 7-Year Old Boy Killed by Trained Protection Dog...
11/19/14: The Tragic Fantasy That A Protection Dog Can Make A Reliable Family Pet...

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Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs

72% of All Dog Bite Fatalities Had Breed Identification Images

six dogs that killed people in 2016
Photographs of six fatally attacking dogs in 2016 obtained from multiple sources. - In 2014, we began the tradition of publishing breed identification photographs of fatally attacking dogs when available through news reports, social media websites and law enforcement. Of the 29 dog bite fatalities recorded in 2016 -- 3 additional cases remain pending -- 72% (21) had identification photographs, up from 46% last year. Pit bulls and their mixes represent 76% of the images collected in 2016. Their close relatives, American bulldogs, represent 10%.
Combined, pit bulls, American bulldogs and their mixes represent 86% of all breed identification images obtained in 2016 after fatal dog attacks.
Of the 21 cases with breed identification photographs, 62% (13) were captured by news media, up from 44% last year. 43% (9) were located on social media pages of the dog's owner or family members and 10% (2) were supplied by animal control or sheriff's departments, down from 38% last year. Animal service departments in California, Florida and Connecticut did allow news media to photograph the dogs while quarantined in 5 other cases, raising that number from 10% to 33%.

Of all cases with breed identification photographs, 90% (19) involved dogs taken into custody and quarantined and 14% (3) where shot and killed on scene.1 Images of two dogs shot were located on social media pages of their owners. Of all 29 recorded dog bite fatalities, 24% (7) involved a pack attack of four or more dogs. Photographs of nearly all of the involved dogs were obtained in 71% (5) of these cases, indicating that even dogs in pack attacks can have identification images.

Breed Mislabeling Debate in 2016

In 2016, there was one instance where an animal control official deliberately manipulated breed information to confuse the public and protect pit bulls. Deputy Director Dan DeSousa of San Diego County Animal Services, long known for his pit bull sympathies, did so after a neutered pit bull-mix was rehomed by the San Diego Humane Society then killed a newborn baby. DeSousa first labeled the dog an "American Staffordshire terrier-mix" then later, a "great dane-terrier mix."

The other high-profile "breed confusion" debate in 2016 also occurred due to decisions by an animal control officer. After the horrific mauling death of Jocelyn Winfrey, 53, New Haven Animal Control Officer Joseph Manganiello initially refused to allow news media to view the two dogs that early reports stated were pit bulls. The media eventually got their way and clarified to the public the dogs were American bulldog-mixes (a pit bull-type dog) belonging to Dr. Hamilton Hicks.2

Photographs Are Supplemental

Identification photographs are a supplement to the hundreds of multi-sourced news reports that we collect each year for U.S. dog bite fatality victims and are listed on our Dog Bite Fatality Citations pages. Though we are still collecting news reports for 2016 -- there will be criminal trials and more -- so far we have recorded 700 citations for 29 victims. That is more than last year, which had 34 fatality victims. Please glance over our 2016 Dog Bite Fatality Citations page to review its length.

News reports pertaining to fatal dog attacks -- with or without identification photographs -- are nearly always multi-sourced. This means that multiple parties have identified the dog's breed including, but not limited to: animal control officers, police officers or sheriff's deputies, other public safety officials, the dog's owner or family members, witnesses and even veterinarians. The images are often greatly helpful, but are also just one component of the overall information available.

Summary of 2016 Photo Trends

In 2016, the news media did an outstanding job in obtaining breed identification photos -- thank you! Of the four highest profile cases this year, only one, the death of a 7-year old boy, required extensive research by to uncover an image of the dog, along with explaining the dynamics of an intrafamily backyard pit bull breeding operation. Of the 21 cases with identification images in 2016, DogsBite uncovered 29% (6) that otherwise were not published in the media.3

90% (19) of the cases with identification photographs involved dogs taken into custody and quarantined, yet in only 10% (2) of these cases were images directly supplied by animal control departments. It should be standard protocol after a fatal dog attack for officials to release photographs of the dogs when quarantined. The public should not have to rely on news media or social media websites for identification images after these dogs have been taken into custody.

More photos of larger sizes are often available at the indicated full blog post link for each victim.

2016 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs

Fatal pit bull attack - Tyler Trammell-Huston
See: Summary | Full blog post | Tyler Trammell-Huston, 9-years old, was killed by his half-sister's three pit bulls after she left him alone with the dogs in a small trailer on January 3, 2016. Alexandria Griffin-Heady, 24, had hoped to "rescue" Tyler from the foster system.

Fatal dog attack - Aiden Grim
See: Summary | Full blog post | Aiden Grim, 3-days old, was fatally bitten on the head by a family dog on February 7, 2016. Officials said the labrador-shepherd mix that belonged to the mother's brother tried to pick the baby up from a laundry basket causing fatal brain injuries.

Fatal pit bull-mix attack - Suzanne Story
See: Summary | Full blog post | Suzanne Story, 36-years old, was brutally killed by a pit bull-mix on February 10, 2016. Story had acquired the dog about two weeks earlier from a newspaper ad in The Virginian Pilot that said the dog was "very good" with kids and people.

Fatal pit bull-mix attack - Gladys Alexander
See: Summary | Full blog post | Gladys Alexander, 92-years old, was attacked by up to four large dogs after entering a neighbor's home to give her a newspaper on March 8, 2016. She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, where she later died.

Fatal pit bull attack - Bessie Flowers
See: Summary | Full blog post | Bessie Flowers, 86-years old, was killed by her daughter's two pit bulls on March 28, 2016. At the time, she was visiting her daughter's home. While in the home, Flowers slipped on the dog bed and the pit bulls fatally attacked her face and neck.

Fatal pit bull-mix attack - Sebastian Caban
See: Summary | Full blog post | Sebastian Caban, 3-days old, was killed by a pit bull-mix while lying in bed with his parents and the dog. When his mother coughed, the dog attacked the baby. The couple adopted the dog from the San Diego Humane Society 5-months earlier.

Fatal pack attack - Manuel Mejia
See: Summary | Full blog post | Manuel Mejia, 49-years old, was killed by a pack of dogs in Miami-Dade County on April 24, 2016. The attackers, an American bulldog and nine Belgium malinois-bulldog mix offspring, belonged to his employer, the owner of a Dragon Fruit farm.

Fatal pit bull attack - Adonis Reddick
See: Summary | Full blog post | Adonis Reddick, 45-years old, was killed by his own pit bull on May 9, 2016. The dog attacked his neck causing fatal injuries. Reddick had developmental disabilities and is remembered as a powerful advocate for others living with disabilities.

Fatal pit bull attack - Earl Stephens Jr.
See: Summary | Full blog post | Earl Stephens Jr., 43-years old, was killed by a pit bull and its two younger offspring while visiting the owner's home on June 4, 2016. Officials described Stephens' injuries as "massive." Deputies shot and killed the main aggressor, an adult male.

Fatal pit bull attack - Hunter Bragg
See: Summary | Full blog post | Hunter Bragg, 7-years old, was brutally killed by a pit bull while visiting his father at the owner's home on June 4, 2016. Hunter was playing in the yard with two other children when the chained male pit bull fatally attacked his throat and face.

Fatal pack attack - Erin McCleskey
See: Summary | Full blog post | Erin McCleskey, 36-years old, was killed by up to six dogs while serving civil papers to a home on June 15, 2016. A judge ordered all six dogs put down. "She didn’t deserve to die, and these animals don’t have a license to kill," stated the judge.

Fatal American bulldog-mix attack - Jocelyn Winfrey
See: Summary | Full blog post | Jocelyn Winfrey, 53-years old, was brutally savaged by two pit bull-type dogs while visiting the dog owner's home; she died on June 27, 2016. Dr. Hamilton Hicks, the owner, was a resident in psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.

Fatal Dog attack - Susie Kirby
See: Summary | Full blog post | Susie Kirby, 3-days old, was killed by two dogs on June 27, 2016. Both dogs were thought to be tied up outside, but that was untrue. One of the dogs with a history of aggression came into the home, snatched the baby and drug her outside.

Fatal pit bull attack - Elizabeth Rivera
See: Summary | Full blog post | Elizabeth Rivera, 71-years old, was killed by up to four family pit bulls in her southwest Detroit home on July 16, 2016. Several years earlier, Rivera was severely bitten in the face by a different pit bull owned by the same family members.

Fatal pit bull attack - Crisencio Aliado
See: Summary | Full blog post | Crisencio Aliado, 52-years old, was killed by two pit bulls on July 29, 2016. The dogs belonged to the owners of ContainerLand, a local business, and "somehow" escaped the fenced warehouse. Both dogs were later returned to their owners.

Fatal pit bull attack - Michelle Wilcox
See: Summary | Full blog post | Michelle Wilcox, 30-years old, was fatally attacked by a male pit bull belonging to her boyfriend on August 1, 2016. Wilcox had studied pre-veterinary medicine at Gainesville State College and animal science at the University of Georgia.

Fatal pit bull attack - Derion Stevenson
See: Summary | Full blog post | Derion Stevenson, 9-years old, was attacked by a pit bull-mix while visiting the dog owner's home on August 17, 2016. The male dog attacked him in the throat and face killing him. 3-weeks earlier, the same dog attacked a neighborhood dog.

Fatal Pack attack - Michael Downing
See: Summary | Full blog post | Michael Downing, 83-years old, was killed by a pack of dogs on August 19, 2016. The dogs escaped their yard through a hole in the fence, attacked the man then dragged him back through the hole. He was discovered dead and dismembered.

Fatal pit bull attack - Susan Shawl
See: Summary | Full blog post | Susan Shawl, 60-years old, was mauled to death by her two family pit bulls on August 29, 2016. The dogs belonged to her son, who was also attacked by his dogs while trying to save Shawl. The family had owned the pit bulls for at least 8-years.

Fatal pit bull attack - Piper Dunbar
See: Summary | Full blog post | Piper Dunbar, 2-years old, was killed by two pit bulls on September 24, 2016. The dogs belonged to a family friend who was temporarily staying at Piper's home. A search-and-rescue team found Piper mauled to death in her front yard.

Fatal pit bull attack - Isaiah Jacob Franklin
See: Summary | Full blog post | Isaiah Franklin, 6-years old, was mauled to death by a family pit bull at his home in Huntington on December 2, 2016. The dog attacked him in the head and neck, causing fatal injuries. The male pit bull belonged to his mother's boyfriend.

1In one of these cases, the main attacker was shot on scene and its two offspring, also involved in the attack, were taken into custody and photographed. Thus, the mauling death of Earl Stephens Jr. counted in both categories.
2The 20-year fatal dog attack study (Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998) co-authored by CDC, AVMA and HSUS members and published in 2000 did NOT separate American bulldogs from the pit bull category. This study specifically called the pit bull category "pit bull-type." has always tracked American bulldogs and pit bulls in separate categories.
3Specifically the cases involving the pit bull mauling deaths of Adonis Reddick, 45-years old of Missouri, Hunter Bragg, 7-years old of Maine, Crisencio Aliado, 52-years old of Hawaii, Michelle Wilcox, 30-years old of Georgia, Piper Dunbar, 2-years old of Kansas and Isaiah Franklin, 6-years old of West Virginia.

Related articles:
01/14/16: 2015 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs -
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence'...
01/07/15: 2014 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs -
01/03/14: 2013 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs -

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