DogsBite Blog ::
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Two family dogs fatally mauled a 2-month old baby boy on Houston's north side.
Family Dogs Kill Baby
Houston, TX - A 2-month old baby boy is dead after being mauled to death by two family dogs on Houston's north side. The baby was lying in a bassinet when his parents stepped away. The dogs, described as a giant schnauzer-mix and a labrador-mix, primarily mauled the baby in his torso area. ABC13 captured video images of the animals. The two dogs, both named Jack, were surrendered to BARC, Houston's animal control agency. Both dogs have been euthanized.
"I just broke down when I heard about the baby, I didn't expect that. It was, I have no words for it, it was really bad." - Neighbor Maria MedinaThe Houston Chronicle reports the attack occurred about 5 pm Saturday in the 5900 block of Nelwyn Street, just inside Loop 610 (other reports say Friday afternoon). Homicide detectives are investigating the baby's death. Authorities have not released the name of the child. The owners surrendered the dogs to BARC Sunday morning, apparently. Officials confirmed to ABC13 News the dogs were put down Sunday evening. Their bodies will be sent to a lab and tested for rabies.
Texas Dog Bite Victims' Advocacy - Join our Texas email list to stay informed
07/31/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Pack of Family Dogs Attack and Kill 4-Year Old Boy in El Paso
01/18/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Infant Killed by Family Dog in San Marcos, Texas
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Pit Bull Had Also Attacked His Mother Two Weeks Earlier
Robert Laughton and his pit bull that mauled his mother twice in Roseville, Michigan.
Judge Dismisses Case
UPDATE 08/17/17: In a very anticlimactic fashion, the felony charges against Robert Laughton were dismissed yesterday. Judge Marco Santia determined the two victims, Laughton's mother and her boyfriend, were co-owners of the pit bull and knew the risks involved with this dog. On April 30, Laughton's pit bull brutally attacked Suzette Laughton and Michael Mager. Both suffered damaging injuries. Two weeks earlier, his dog attacked Suzette as well, requiring 30 stitches.
After his dog inflicted a "series" of attacks, Laughton made headlines, crying to the media, "It's not my fault" and "I didn't do anything wrong."This "intrafamily" pit bull mauling was never going to be easy to prosecute. The two victims did not want charges pursued. All three of them live together as well. We were surprised when Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith filed two felony charges against Laughton in May. However, the injuries his pit bull inflicted were extreme. Paramedics initially feared that Michael would lose both arms, and Suzette's injuries required 98 staples in her right arm and 74 staples in her left arm.
The first attack occurred on April 19. At that time, Laughton was issued a citation for harboring a vicious dog -- he was placed on legal notice. Roseville officials allowed him to home-quarantine the dog for 10 days and advised him to put the animal down afterward. But Laughton and his mother did not want to pay the $200 euthanasia fee and decided to "give the dog another chance." One day after the quarantine period ended, the pit bull unleashed its second violent attack.
After his dog inflicted a "series" of vicious attacks on family members, Laughton refused to accept any responsibility. This is after he had been put on legal notice by the city and after his dog attacked a second time. "I didn’t do anything wrong," Laughton told The Detroit News. "It's not my fault." Laughton gravely marginalized his mother's injuries back then too stating, "My dog bit my mom." He also failed to mention the gravity of damaging injuries suffered by her boyfriend.
Michael was "lying unconscious on the living room floor suffering from horrific bites" and "bleeding profusely from his wounds." - Roseville PoliceNow that a judge has dismissed the felony charges against Laughton, can the public believe that he and his family have learned anything over the past four months? Possibly. He did have to hire an attorney and show up in court. The family also had two pit bulls. Still up to her ears in medical bills, Suzette made the remaining pit bull her Facebook cover photo on July 2. Now that the court has released Laughton, he's also free to obtain new pit bulls. So "possibly not" is a better answer.
05/04/17: Felony Charges Authorized
Roseville, MI - On April 30, a family pit bull brutal attacked a couple in their home in the 30000 block of Normal Street. Suzette Laughton, 52, was initially listed in critical condition and her boyfriend, Michael Mager, 51, was airlifted to a hospital due to his extreme injuries. The dog belongs to Suzette's son, Robert Laughton, 29. Two weeks earlier, his dog attacked Suzette as well, requiring 30 stitches. At that time, Robert was issued a ticket for harboring a vicious dog.
Robert lives with the couple, but was not home during the recent attack. After the April 19 attack, he home-quarantined the dog for 10 days. One day later, after Suzette released the dog from its kennel, it viciously attacked her again. When Michael intervened to help her, the dog turned on him, inflicting injuries so severe he was left unconscious. First responders initially feared he would lose both arms. On May 4, prosecutors authorized two felony charges against Robert Laughton.
"I grew up with dogs and love them dearly. But as owners we bear complete responsibility for the training and behavior of our animals, especially regarding their interaction with the humans they encounter.
With these powerful breeds, that responsibility is particularly acute. A single aggressive episode can result in life-ending tragedy. Our office shows zero tolerance to owners who fail to safeguard their animals and the people around them from vicious aggression." - Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, May 4, 2017
Why This Case is Unusual
Only a few states have a meaningful state felony dog attack law, Michigan is one of them. Under Michigan law, if a dog owner has knowledge of his dog's vicious propensities and it attacks again, seriously injuring or killing a person, the owner is subject to a felony. Laughton was charged with two felony counts because two victims were seriously injured. Prosecutors authorized these charges knowing that both victims, one being Laughton's mother, will not agree with the charges.
Due to the "intrafamily" nature of this series of pit bull maulings -- the mother agreed to give the dog another chance after the first attack, Laughton alleges -- we did not believe prosecutors would authorize these felony charges. It is a bold and courageous move by prosecutor Eric Smith (Kudos!). Unfortunately Laughton, who was given a citation previously for having an unlicensed dog and harboring a vicious animal, remains in total denial about dog ownership responsibility.
Headline Pit Bull Mauling
On Monday and Tuesday, we watched as headlines about the Roseville attack dominated the Detroit region. According to news reports, officers met Suzette bloodied outside of her home. She told police her son's pit bull had attacked her boyfriend, who was still inside the house. Police were forced to taser the pit bull to incapacitate it in order to reach the boyfriend who was, "unconscious on the living room floor, suffering from horrific bites to his arms and face," according to police.
The dog suspected in the attack was present and was "extremely aggressive not allowing emergency personnel into the home to extricate the victim," police said in a release. - Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, May 2, 2017By early Tuesday, reports of Michael's injuries were so severe that we added him to our Dog Bite Fatality Watch List. While he was only on the list for a few hours, that action kicked off a deeper review of the situation by us. The first stop was the homeowner's property records to identify the victims and the second was the dog owner's Facebook page. When we landed on Laughton's page, he was publicly and gravely minimizing the victims' injuries and denying any responsibility.
Laughton had posted about "our recent fiasco" and claimed the media got the story wrong. When asked by a friend, "What happened?" He wrote, "My dog bit my mom." No mention of Michael's injuries, the airlift or this being the second time his pit bull had viciously attacked his mother. Laughton called the media "animals" and told friends to watch for an upcoming article by The Detroit News, which would undoubtedly carry his "blameless" version of the story, and it did.
In a headline titled, "Dog owner defends self in mauling: It’s not my fault," Laughton tries to explain why he should not be blamed after his vicious dog attacked a second time seriously injuring two people. "I didn’t do anything wrong," Laughton told The Detroit News. "It’s not my fault. My dog was loved. He had toys. I did not abuse my dog. I didn’t make my dog vicious. My dog did what he did. He’s paid for it," he said. As if the dog being euthanized alleviates Laughton from all liability?
Laughton said that city officials recommended he put the dog down after the April 19 attack. But, he and his mother did not want to pay the $200 euthanasia fee and decided to give the pit bull another chance, he said. Now, after thousands of dollars in medical procedures, requiring "teams of surgeons," along with felony charges, the $200 fee looks like a bargain. Laughton also blamed the second attack on a "neurological trigger," a term coined by whitewasher James Crosby.
The Detroit News video interview is a dead ringer for a pit bull owner's total and complete denial after his dog viciously attacked a second time. According to his sister, Tiffany Laughton, the same pit bull attacked her fiancé's dog in January. So technically, the April 30 attack is the third attack by the dog -- three attacks in a 4-month period. Yet, according to Laughton's obtuse logic, he's not responsible for any of them. The trusted pit bull mantra, "Blame the Owner" suddenly evaporates.
"I didn't make my dog vicious. It's not like I trained my dog to fight. I didn't do any of that. He was a family pet." - Pit bull owner Robert Laughton"My dog bit my mom and her boyfriend. He's paid for it now," Laughton states. Quite literally, he has no comprehension of civil or criminal liability after a "series" of vicious attacks. The victims in this case are family members, but they just as easily could have been a child or friend visiting the home. The two felony charges signal that in Macomb County all victims are equal. Just because "only your family members" were mauled twice by the dog, does not mean you are off the hook.
The Family Pit Bulls
The male pit bull, named Bruce, is reportedly 1.5 years old. As we have stated many times on this website, pit bulls typically begin to show destructive behavior traits, such as the "hold and shake" bite style and animal aggression, when sexual maturity is reached at about 1.5 years old. This fact is well known among many animal control officers and humane groups, but is rarely shared with the public. This is not true of all pit bulls, but it is a rule of thumb for when these traits appear.
Laughton had purchased the pit bull from a Craigslist advertisement a year earlier, according to a news release issued by prosecutors. Furthermore, the dog was scheduled for euthanasia on May 1, states the release. Apparently, during the home-quarantine period between April 19 and April 29, Laughton and his mother changed their minds about euthanasia, Laughton alleges, but failed to tell animal control officials. Then one day later, the dog unleashed its second violent attack.
The Laughtons also have another pit bull in their home -- ClickonDetroit captured it in recent footage. That dog was not involved in the recent attack, but was taken into custody by county animal control after the April 30 attack. So, when the couple returns home after being hospitalized, there will presumably still be a pit bull in the family's home. Property records show that one of these pit bulls was registered under a different breed name, a "Lab/Mix," on April 26, 2017.
Son, Mother Appear in Court
On the same day prosecutors authorized felony charges against Robert Laughton, he and his mother appeared in Roseville District Court, reports the Detroit Free Press. Robert was arraigned on the charges and given a $5,000 surety bond. He is allowed to keep living with his mother, but cannot purchase another animal until the court says so. Suzette told the court that she wants her son to "stay with me" and that her boyfriend "doesn't want anything to happen to Robert."
Meanwhile over on Robert's Facebook page, he states, "Well let the fun begin I suppose." Sadly, many commenters on his post have no comprehension of civil or criminal liability after a "series" of vicious attacks either. One writes, "He feels terrible" and "He has been through enough." As if that would be sufficient after a drunk driver seriously injured two people? Again, that $200 euthanasia fee sure was a bargain. Now add defense attorney fees to the family's mounting medical bills.
08/25/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull that Killed Boy Had a History of 'Dog Aggression'
06/30/16: Criminal Trial: Detroit Pit Bull Owner Convicted on Two Counts of Manslaughter
03/17/16: Thank You Letter: Experienced Dog Trainer Shares Attack Story & Professional...
Monday, August 7, 2017
A Bangor infant was pronounced dead after being injured by a dog eight days ago.
UPDATE 08/07/17: No charges will be filed after a family dog fatally attacked a newborn. The attack occurred on July 29. The baby died eight days later. The dog will be euthanized, Bangor police said. "It was a tragic accident," Detective Sgt. Brent Beaulieu said Monday. The 21-day old baby boy was sleeping in a bassinet in the same room with his parents and their family dog. The couple awoke to find the animal, a husky-shepherd mix, attacking the baby, Beaulieu said.
The infant's parents, who live in Aroostook County, were visiting relatives at a home in western Bangor when the attack occurred at about 5:30 am, Beaulieu said. The dog has been quarantined at the Bangor Humane Society since the July 29 attack. The dog will be euthanized once the case is closed, reports the Bangor Daily News. The couple told police the family pet had never shown aggression before. Police did not release the degree of injuries the baby suffered in the attack.
Husky-type dogs have a long track record of killing sleeping newborns in bassinets, which is why we have called them "crib snatchers" in the past.This baby's death follows the same scenario we have seen with huskies before, literally attacking a newborn in its bassinet or crib. The only difference in this case is that the parents were sleeping in the same room at the time. Usually, the mother has stepped away momentarily when the family husky drags a newborn from its bassinet or bedding, killing it. Since 2005, huskies have been involved in 13 fatal dog maulings. Seven of these deaths involve circumstances like this one.
Similar Husky-Type Dog Bite Fatalities
- In 2005, Alexis McDermott, 7-days old, was pulled from a portable crib by the family's male husky causing enough internal injury to kill the baby. Her mother had "briefly stepped away" from the baby to pour a glass of juice. (Coventry, Rhode Island)
- In 2008, Alexis Hennessy, 6-days old, was fatally bitten on the head by the family's male husky while she laid in her crib. The mother had "left the room momentarily." When she returned, she discovered the injured child. (Hopatcong, New Jersey)
- Also in 2008, Kylie Mae Daum, 3-days old, was killed by the family's husky while she laid in a bassinet in her parent's bedroom. The baby's father had "left the room briefly." Kylie had only been home from the hospital for one day. (Warren, Ohio)
- In 2009, Olivia Rozek, 3-weeks old, was pulled from a bed by the family's male husky and dragged and mauled. Olivia had been lying on a bed with her twin sister when her mother "briefly stepped away." Her twin was unharmed. (Bourbonnais, Illinois)
- In 2010, Robert Hocker, 11-days old, was fatally bitten by the family's male husky while he laid in a car seat on a bed in his parent's bedroom. Robert "died of head injuries" from a dog attack, according to the coroner. (Independence, Minnesota)
- In 2012, Howard Nicholson Jr., 2-days old, was fatally bitten on the head by the family's male husky while he laid in a baby carrier on the living room floor. His mother had "stepped away" to go to the bathroom. (McKeesport, Pennsylvania)
- In 2017, a 3-week old baby boy was fatally bitten while sleeping in a bassinet in the same room with his parents and their family dog. The couple awoke to find the husky-mix attacking the baby. The baby died eight days later. (Bangor, Maine)
Husky-type dog mauling deaths are fractional compared to pit bulls and their mixes, but husky-types are clearly very unsafe around infants.Though fatal attacks by huskies are rare, the breed still falls within the top six killing dog breeds (3.1% of all deaths) and for the primary reason of killing newborns lying in a bassinet. In the Bangor case, the baby's parents were sleeping in the same room, indicating yet another quiet and "opportunistic" attack on a newborn. Police also state the dog is a husky-shepherd mix. German shepherds account for 3.8% of all deaths. Thus far, no photograph of the dog has been released.
08/06/17: Infant Dies of Injuries
Bangor, ME - Bangor police released a statement Sunday saying a baby died after being injured by a family dog last Saturday. On July 29, police and fire departments responded to a call about an injured infant, Bangor police Detective Sgt. Brent Beaulieu said. The child had been injured by “a family pet,” and was transported to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. “Unfortunately, the child succumbed to the injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital,” Beaulieu said today.
Detectives describe the dog as a shepherd-mix. No other information was released by police, including the extent of the baby's injuries.This baby's death marks the third dog bite fatality in the state of Maine since 2005, according to our records. Just last year, Penobscot County was haunted by the mauling death of 7-year old Hunter Bragg. He was brutally killed by a chained pit bull white visiting his father at the dog owner's home. In 2011, Annabelle Mitchell, 7-months old, was killed by her mother's rottweiler, named Hannibal. Katrina Mitchelle was later charged with child endangerment, a misdemeanor.
07/03/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Pit Bull Kills 3-Week Old Baby in Grand Rapids
01/18/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Infant Killed by Family Dog in San Marcos, Texas
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Authorities Charge Grandmother with Multiple Felonies
Paris Adams, 20-months old, was mauled to death by two family pit bulls in Georgia.
UPDATE 08/03/17: In raw footage -- nearly an hour long -- published by WYFF on August 2, we learned that the fenced area is the holding facility near the sewage plant, not the grandmother's property. Currently, there is no photograph of the "fenced area" on her property. We know from earlier citations that she has a fenced area where the dogs escaped. The night shot published by WYFF late August 1 was not labeled; the edit suggested it was on the grandmother's property.
Basically, we got an advance shot of the holding facility, which was unlabled, the night before this raw footage was posted to Facebook.1Additional information gleaned from the raw footage is an interview with Hartwell Police Chief Anthony Davis. He explained that the mother of the child, Amy Adams, goes back and forth in her living situation. She sometimes lives with her sister and her mother. Said another way, baby Paris went back and forth living with his aunt and grandmother. Both households have multiple pit bulls and multiple white pit bulls too (See: aunt's dogs). Authorities are still piecing this part together.
Notably, there is a curious post by Amy on October 13, 2014, seven days after "Whiteboy," one of the fatal attackers, was issued its first citation for being at large (See: page 7). "I just found out that i CAME CLOSE to not being able to breed him anymore! But moms slick when she needs to be- shhhh- its a secret!! (sic)," Amy wrote. The "Goin for a ride," post suggests she may have whisked the dog away from her grandmother's home at that time to prevent a municipal neutering threat.
This "public" Facebook post Amy hopes is a "secret" also suggests her criminally charged mother lied in some way about Whiteboy back then.Another post that coincides with a citation was by Laura, Amy's sister. On the morning of October 16, 2014, the grandmother was issued a citation after a brown pit bull menaced two joggers. On the same day, Laura tries to give away this pit bull (Babygirl) for free, stating, "My mom just cannot keep her anymore." Laura also clears up any questions on whether this dog is a mix. "She is full blooded," Laura writes. "She is jeep rascal and gator gotti. No mixing in that bloodline at all (sic)."
Finally, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) leads this investigation and filed the charges. The question remains whether the child's mother will also be charged. If she is charged, it will be GBI that makes this determination, along with the district attorney's office. The other unknown factor is how much skipping a 9-1-1 call -- and stopping to pick up Paris' mother before taking him to Urgent Care -- plays into the charges against his grandmother. He arrived dead at the facility.
08/02/17: DA Press Conference
District Attorney Parks White gave a press conference today providing new details. On Tuesday afternoon, 20-month old Paris Adams was mauled to death by two family pit bulls while under his grandmother's care. Sandra Adams, 70-years old, was subsequently charged with multiple felonies. After the death investigation is complete, a grand jury will determine if Adams is indicted. White could not provide any details about the autopsy results or the "family relationships."
Adams was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and second-degree cruelty to children.Adams has been cited multiple times in the past about these same two pit bulls. There were at least six ordinance violations from 2013 to 2015. The previous citations involve the dogs being tangled in their tether (typical shoddy pit bull ownership), running at large (typical shoddy pit bull ownership) and running at large being aggressive -- typical pit bull behavior. The citations indicate the child's mother was the actual owner of the pit bulls; the two may have been living together.2
"In March 2015, officers were called to Adams home after a woman said she was walking her dogs and they were attacked by a white pit bull at large. Officers said Adams told them she was walking her daughter's two dogs when their leashes became crossed and she dropped one of them." - Fox Carolina, August 2, 2017As we have seen in the past, this may be another case of an adult "dumping" her pit bulls on a parent who is 70-years old. No citations have been issued to Adams since 2015. This may be due to an apparent kennel system that was built (seen in the recent WYFF footage). At the time of the attack, the pit bulls were inside the home. Adams and baby Paris were outside. When Adams attempted to re-enter her home, the dogs bolted out, knocking her down, and savaged the baby.
The family owns multiple white pit bulls. Pictured below is Blueboy with baby Paris in August 2016. Blueboy is the offspring of Whiteboy (also a white pit bull). Amy Adams, baby Paris' mother, writes in the post, "Blueboy kissing Paris. If only Blueboy's parents (Whiteboy and Babygirl) were like him!!!" This indicates both of the dog's parents have aggression issues and are likely the two dogs involved in the baby's mauling death. The pair are also siblings; the family bred them together.
Fox Carolina just posted footage of both pit bulls while under quarantine: Whiteboy and Babygirl. Fox Carolina also posted the previous incident reports -- we are just now going through them.
08/02/17: Criminal Charges Filed
Overnight, a number of new developments occurred. Authorities charged the child's grandmother with a range of offenses in connection to his mauling death. Sandra Bowers Adams, 70-years-old, was charged with second-degree murder, second-degree cruelty to children and involuntary manslaughter. A news release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation states Adams had been cited on multiple occasions by the Hartwell Police Department for maintaining disorderly animals.
"Staff at the Urgent Care had requested assistance from EMS and Law Enforcement after Sandra Adams and Amy Adams entered the office with Amy Adams’ twenty-month-old son. The child had suffered extensive injuries following an apparent dog attack. Medical personnel and EMS determined the child was unresponsive and the child was pronounced dead at 3:36 pm ...Last last night, we did uncover the "cast of characters" in the brutal pit bull mauling death of this little boy. The child's mother and her sister have about seven or so pit bulls between them. Both sisters are pit bull owners, backyard breeders and know their "bloodlines" too. It seems the grandmother also owned her own set of pit bulls and likely more than two. "Boilerplate" pit bull advocacy runs heavily in the family. The below two memes are from the mother's Facebook page.
Preliminary investigation suggests that Sandra Adams, the grandmother of the child, was at her residence located at 64 Highland Avenue Hartwell, Georgia babysitting the child. Adams and the child were outside. Adams attempted to re-enter her residence at which time two pit bulldogs that resided at the residence ran out the back door knocking Adams to the ground and attacking the child. Adams attempted to both shield the child from further attack and to pull the dogs away from the child. Eventually Adams was able to get the dogs back into the residence and pick up the child. Adams then transported the child to a nearby location where she picked up Amy Adams, the child’s mother, and the two transported the child to the Reddy Urgent Care in Hartwell.3
Historical information indicates that Sandra Adams had been cited on multiple occasions by the Hartwell Police Department under a city ordinance maintaining disorderly animals." - Georgia Bureau of Investigation
08/01/17: Pit Bulls Kill Child
Hart County, GA - Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland confirmed a young boy is dead after being fatally attacked by two family pit bulls Tuesday afternoon. The 20-month old boy was attacked in the backyard of a home on Highland Avenue, near Athens Street. Hartwell Police Chief Anthony Davis said they were called about 3:15 pm. Deputy Coroner Scott Boleman said the parents transported the child to Reddy Urgent Care, where he was called and pronounced the boy dead.
The young child lived inside the home with the dogs, Sheriff Cleveland said. Earlier reports stated one of the family pit bulls was a "white pit bull." The Hartwell Police Department, the Hart County Coroner's Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) are investigating the boy's death. The child's body has been sent to the GBI crime lab for an autopsy. The dogs will be observed for the next 24 to 48 hours before they are put down, according to the GBI, Sheriff Cleveland said.
2If there was any delay in getting this severely injured child to the emergency center -- apparently the family did not call 9-1-1 -- that could result in these types of criminal charges. The grandmother's home is only 1.5 miles away from the Reddy Urgent Care center in Hartwell, but she also stopped to pick up the boy's mother beforehand.
01/19/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Child, Critically Injure Another Child in Atlanta.
08/04/17: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Mauled to Death by Her Boyfriend's Pit Bull in Georgia
Monday, July 31, 2017
Jacob Brooks, 4-years old, was killed by a pack of family dogs in his backyard.
UPDATE 07/31/17: Officials said three German shepherd-mixes and one pit bull were euthanized the same day they killed a 4-year old boy. On Thursday, Jacob Brooks' mother left him alone in an enclosed trampoline in the backyard, where four family dogs roamed. A teenager heard the boy's mother panic, saying her son had gotten away. The teenager jumped into her backyard to check there first and was confronted by the dogs and the boy's brutal mauling. Jacob was already dead.
Neighbors said the family had up to 10 dogs -- German shepherds and pit bulls -- of varying sizes. Officials seized six dogs from the home; two smaller dogs were inside during the attack. Neighbors said the outdoor dogs were aggressive and had escaped the family's property before. Back in April, his mother (or her partner) posted to a public Facebook group that she had just found a male pit bull. Hours later, she admits the pit bull escaped her property -- she lost an already lost dog.
(Initial post) "Found this male pit bull... he's very friendly and loves my kids, he trained so I know his owner is missing him."
(Later in the comment thread) "I'm sad to say that he got away from us today while we were out... he got out of our fence, I went out looking for him and did not find him ... I'm sorry everyone I really wanted to find his home."
07/28/17: Neighbor Recounts Scene
Neighbors told the El Paso Times the scene of the fatal mauling was chaotic. "The ambulance came, and when we saw the people who live there come out of the house crying, I imagined right away (what might have happened)," Ramon Payan said, who lives across the street from the boy's home. "They have a lot of dogs, and aggressive dogs -- pit bulls and German shepherds, big and small, about 10 dogs --- and young children," Payan said. The dogs "practically ate him," he said.
Payan said he believes two women and three children live at the home, including a baby. Payan described the women as screaming and throwing themselves on ground, but the boy was already dead. "Even when they were taken in the police car, they were still screaming and screaming," Payan said. It sounds like these women were "collecting" dogs and some were younger offspring. A pack of unsterilized aggressive dogs alone with a 4-year old, what could possibly go wrong?
While these women are extremely traumatized, it certainly is a case worth prosecuting against the child's mother. At least one neighbor had warned her about the pack's aggression and how they often escaped her backyard. The dogs were a known problem in both areas -- being loose and aggressive. Then she abandoned her 4-year old son, Jacob Brooks, in an "enclosed trampoline" in the backyard where the aggressive pack roamed. That is neglect in Texas, just to get started.
Sec. 261.001. DEFINITIONS. "Neglect" includes:07/28/17: Pack of Family Dogs Kill Boy
(a) placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child;
El Paso, TX - A little boy was mauled to death by a pack of dogs Thursday evening. El Paso police identified the child as Jacob Brooks. "The child had been left by his mother in an enclosed trampoline in the backyard where there were four dogs," police stated in a news release. The deadly attack happened in the 9100 block of Morelia. The boy was discovered dead at the scene. Investigators said the four dogs belong to the homeowner and the child lived at the residence.
"Everything went by so fast. I'm still shaking and I haven't been able to sleep at all because it's shocking." - Sebastian Hernandez15-year old Sebastian Hernandez, a neighbor, witnessed the attack through his kitchen window. Sebastian said his 13-year old brother, Albert, managed to pry one of the dogs off the boy, but then had to defend himself against the dogs. "Those dogs were really crazy, they were always biting on each other," he said. Sebastian's grandmother said she knew the family. She had warned the family in the past about the dogs' aggression and how they often escaped their backyard.
Animal control seized all four dogs -- the breeds were not identified. The El Paso Times captured a photograph of the "enclosed trampoline" in the backyard of the home where the dogs were kept. According to a report by KFox14, it seems the boy was able to get out of the enclosure. Albert was playing basketball nearby when he heard a woman crying and saying her son had gotten away. He decided to check the backyard first, which is when he encountered the dogs and found her son.
"The child's mother was placed into protective custody and turned over to medical professionals at a medical facility," - El Paso Police DepartmentNBC4i confirmed they were all family dogs. A neighbor who did not want to be identified said this is traumatic for the whole neighborhood. We see the children playing outside everyday, he said. "How are you going to come back and [now you] won't be seeing the little boy ever again?" The soft-spoken man is especially concerned for the teenager who tried the save the child from the dogs. "I think it’s going to be real hard for him," the man said, "I think he saw his [the boy’s] face."
(Multiple fatal and nonfatal dog attacks have involved a child playing on a trampoline beforehand. The last similar fatality is also from Texas, the brutal mauling death of 5-year old Tanner Smith.)
Texas Dog Bite Victims' Advocacy - Join our Texas email list to stay informed
10/29/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by Two Pit Bulls in Orange County, Texas
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Michael Parks, 60-years old, died after breaking up a pit bull fight in Fostoria.
Vicious Pit Bull Fight
UPDATE 07/23/17: New information has been released about a man who died after trying to break up a vicious pit bull fight Thursday night. According to a Fostoria police report, 42-year old Amy Loving was walking her pit bull near 845 Davoli Street at about 11 pm when a pit bull belonging to 60-year old Michael Parks bolted from its home and brutally attacked her dog. Parks intervened and was bitten multiple times by one or both dogs. Police said Parks suffered serious injuries.
"We’re not exactly sure which dog bit him, if it was the one or both. He did have serious injuries as a result." - Astoria Police Chief Keith LorenoTwo 9-1-1 calls came in, one from Parks' frantic wife and the second from a person claiming a "vicious dog" killed another dog and attacked a man. According to the police report, Loving's dog was "badly mangled" in the attack. She was unsure if it would survive. The Seneca County Dog Warden took Parks' pit bull, named Mia, into custody. Earlier, Parks' sister-in-law claimed Mia was a "gentle giant" and was "not a vicious dog at all." Then Mia suddenly exploded like a bomb.
Victim's Wife Interviewed
13 ABC spoke to the victim's wife. Cheryl Parks said he was fighting kidney disease and was on dialysis. On Thursday night they had been celebrating his 60th birthday. "I could accept it better," she said, if he had died from dialysis, "not him being bit by a dog." Cheryl said her daughter's pit bull, Mia, flew out of the yard and attacked Loving's pit bull. Cheryl said she tried to separate the two pit bulls and that she did not see a leash on Loving's dog, whose condition is still unknown.
07/22/17: Pit Bull Owner Dies
Fostoria, OH - Late Thursday night, a man died after breaking up a fight between two pit bulls. 60-year old Michael Parks let his pit bull, named Mia, outside at about 11 pm. The dog bolted across Davoli street and attacked a leashed pit bull being walked by its owner. While trying to break up the fight, Parks was bitten on his recently installed dialysis shunt, which is a connection between a vein and artery, usually located on the forearm or upper arm. He suffered massive bleeding.
Michael Parks was pronounced dead at a local hospital later that night.Fostoria Police Chief Kieth Loreno reminds dog owners how dangerous dog-on-dog attacks are. "If you stick your hands down there and the dog is fighting with the other one with their teeth, obviously you're going to get injured," he said. Such attacks are exponentially more dangerous when involving one or more pit bulls. Parks' sister-in-law, "who did not want to be identified," claimed Mia was a "gentle giant." It is unknown what became of Parks' pit bull or the leashed one.
Similar Dog Bite Fatalities
A similar death occurred in Cincinnati in 2012. Ronnel Brown, 40, was attacked by his own pit bull-mix. Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco explained, "He was on dialysis and had a device in his forearm that during the scuffle with the dog, the dog bit him in the forearm and ripped a hole in that device, that led to a lot of blood loss." Because Brown's dog was going "berserk," paramedics had to wait 10 minutes before entering his home. When they did he was already dead.
A "well-placed bite" by a pit bull without an apparatus involved has occurred on occasion in the past too. In 2015, Roy Higgenbotham, 62, died after a pit bull bite severed his radial artery near his left wrist directly causing his death. In 2014, Nancy Newberry quickly bled to death after her daughter's pit bull bit her in the abdomen where she had previously had an operation. In 2008, Robert Howard bled to death in Detroit after a stray pit bull tore out a major artery in his calf.
04/26/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Breaks Chain, Attacks and Kills Man in Dayton, Ohio
06/09/16: Criminal Trial: Babysitter Found Guilty After Pit Bull Kills Visiting Baby in Dayton, Ohio
04/20/16: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies After Pit Bull Attack in Shaker Heights, Ohio
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Criminal Trial: Preliminary Hearing of Former Officer Whose 'Personal' Dual-Certified K-9 Killed a Man and Injured a Woman
Alex Geiger, 25, Faces Three Felonies After Vicious Mauling Death
Former officer Alex Geiger, 25, faces felonies after his "personal" police-trained K-9 killed a man.
Geiger Will Stand Trial
UPDATE 07/20/17: On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Hugh Mullin III ruled the criminal case against a former Grover Beach police officer will move forward. On December 13, Alex Geiger's attack-trained police K-9, which he kept as a "personal" pet after leaving the Exeter K-9 unit in August, escaped his property and mauled two people, killing one. Geiger faces two felonies for failing to maintain control of a dangerous dog and one felony count of involuntary manslaughter.
There is an inherent danger (with keeping retired police dogs), and I think Officer Geiger knew that. - San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Hugh Mullin IIIDespite Geiger's defense raising a number of protocol breaches by Sgt. Juan Leon -- Geiger's supervisor and the first officer on the scene of the attack -- Judge Mullin determined there was enough evidence to proceed to trial. David Fear, 64, died from complications of blood loss due to his bite injuries three days after the attack. Betty Long, 86, suffered bite injuries and broken bones from falling. She was released from a rehabilitation center in March and continues to recover.
"Retired" Police Dogs
Wednesday's proceedings, along with Judge Mullin's ruling, focused on "retired" police dogs and the absence of "standard procedures" to follow for officers and other owners of these dogs. Mullin stated, "Maybe police departments should do something about it." This spells out our main interest in this case. Geiger had to sign a waiver with the city of Exeter when he purchased this dog, removing the city of any liability if it ever attacked someone under his "private" ownership.
Cities protect their wallets when releasing K-9s to "private" ownership and good luck obtaining homeowner's insurance for one of these dogs.Geiger's Belgian malinois, Neo, was hardly retired in the traditional sense. The police-trained K-9 was only 2.5 years old. One month before the fatal attack, Geiger had unsuccessfully lobbied Grover Breach to start a K-9 program. Four months earlier, Neo had been active duty with Geiger in the Exeter K-9 unit, which is why Geiger had to pay over $5,000 dollars for the dog -- it still had some years left. Older, traditionally "retired" police K-9s are usually gifted to their handlers for $1.
Shadowy K-9 Market
Also on Wednesday, Jay Brock testified. Brock operates Top Dog Training Center, a police K-9 training center in Tulare County. Earlier news reports indicate this is where Neo gained certificates in detection and basic patrol courses in 2015. "Brock testified that he purchased the dog when it was 3 to 6 months old from a private owner in Southern California. He didn’t know the seller’s name, paid in cash, and didn’t ask for a receipt from the transaction," reports The Tribune.1
Exeter acquired Neo in September 2015 when it was 1.5 years old. By December it was dual-certified in narcotics detection and patrol work.Since 2014, our nonprofit has been tracking severe maulings of "innocents" by police K-9s -- bystanders and unintended victims. The murky sources of these dogs often have a shared feature, described in vague terms like, an "eastern block import." However, what Brock describes is cloak-and-dagger-esque. The market is so lucrative for protection bred police and military dogs it's hardly surprising that private US-based middlemen have created a secondary, cheaper market.
The last portion of The Tribune's report highlights how Geiger's defense used the the Grover Beach Police Department's questionable treatment of the investigation and missing evidence to help their client. Geiger was employed by this department when his "retired" K-9 attacked Fear and Long. Geiger remained on paid administrative leave until February 1 when he resigned, a step clearly prompted by the February 2 announcement of two felony charges filed against him.
Police vacated the investigation, dumping it into the hands of San Luis Obisco County Animal Services, then "stalled" in handing over evidence.If one eliminates the troubling police "favors" in this case -- failure to collect and preserve certain evidence, turning off a body cam early, quickly euthanizing and cremating the dog without an examination first and more -- the criminal charges filed against Geiger, and his fulfillment of them, are straight forward in California. So let's revisit them. Geiger is charged with two counts of failing to maintain control of a dangerous animal and one felony count of involuntary manslaughter.
§ 399. Mischievous animal causing death or serious bodily injury; negligence of owner or person having custody or control; punishment
(a) If any person owning or having custody or control of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully suffers it to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, and the animal, while so at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, kills any human being who has taken all the precautions that the circumstances permitted, or which a reasonable person would ordinarily take in the same situation, is guilty of a felony.
(b) If any person owning or having custody or control of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully suffers it to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, and the animal, while so at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, causes serious bodily injury to any human being who has taken all the precautions that the circumstances permitted, or which a reasonable person would ordinarily take in the same situation, is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony.
192(b) Involuntary Manslaughter
(b) Involuntary -- in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection.
KSBY has some video coverage of day two of the preliminary hearing as does KCOY/KEYT.
07/18/17: Day One of Hearing
During the first day of the preliminary hearing for Alex Geiger, Betty Long took the stand along with two police K-9 trainers and Grover Beach police Sgt. Juan Leon, Geiger's supervisor and the first officer on the scene of the attack, reports the The Tribune. Geiger, who was also on duty, arrived at the scene a minute later, Leon said. He informed Leon that both dogs belonged to him. Despite the dogs being part of the crime scene, Leon allowed Geiger to take them to his home alone.
The protocol breaches get worse. The Tribune reports, "Leon said he did not collect or preserve several pieces of evidence, including his own bloody uniform, nor an air rifle and unspecified 'gardening tool' found in Fear’s driveway near the attack site. Blood samples from Geiger’s hands weren’t collected, either." Leon also testified that his in-car recording device was not functioning and that he turned off his body camera at some point when he began talking to the police chief.
Leon did not closely examine Geiger's 6-foot high wooden fence with broken boards at the base, nor did he look into Geiger's backyard before handing the investigation over to county animal services. Geiger kept both dogs in his fenced backyard, where he also has a tall 5-sided kennel, but he did not secure either dog inside of it that day. While he was a K-9 officer at Exeter, Geiger was trained to keep K-9s locked in a kennel unless under the direct supervision of their handler.
"The dogs continued to chew on Dave, and it was so bloody. I couldn’t do anything ... I thought I was going to die, and thought, this is it." - Betty LongFinally, Geiger's defense raised the possibility this his attack-trained Belgian malinios mauled Betty Long and brutally killed David Fear -- after the dog chewed through Geiger's wooden fence -- because Fear may have wielded the air rifle or gardening tool as a weapon. Long said Fear tried to fight off the dogs, but there was "no way" Fear used a weapon. Conveniently, Sgt. Leon never collected or preserved these pieces of evidence, the same way he treated his own bloody uniform.
KSBY has some video coverage of day one of the preliminary hearing as does KCOY/KEYT.
07/18/17: Court Docket - People v. Geiger
Grover Beach, CA - The preliminary hearing of former Grover Beach police officer Alex Geiger resumes today in a San Luis Obispo County court. Geiger faces multiple felonies after his two dogs escaped his property on December 13 and mauled two residents, killing one. The primary culprit was an attack-trained police K-9 that Geiger kept as a "personal" pet. Geiger purchased the dog from the city of Exeter where he had worked just four months earlier as a police K-9 officer.
Prosecutors initially charged Geiger with two felonies for failing to maintain control of a dangerous animal in connection to the death of David Fear, 64, and serious bodily injury to Betty Long, 86. In June, prosecutors added a third felony charge against Geiger, involuntary manslaughter, which offers prosecutors more choices as the case moves into the preliminary hearing. Despite the new charge, Geiger still only faces a maximum sentence of about four years in prison if convicted.
Geiger is being charged because he had full knowledge that his police-trained K-9 was dangerous and he failed to properly contain the dog.Leading up the preliminary hearing, The Tribune reports that on the day of the deadly attack, Geiger's dogs had escaped his property earlier and chased a mailman. The information came to light a week ago after Geiger's attorney, Visalia-based John Jackson, filed court documents seeking to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge. Jackson included in the filing reports from police and animal control officers who interviewed Geiger, Long, neighbors and other witnesses.
Geiger told Animal Services Director Eric Anderson that on the morning of December 13 his roommate told him that one of the boards in the fence had come loose. Geiger said he returned home and resecured it. At noon, the dogs menaced the mailman. At 1:15 pm, the dogs attacked Fear and Long.2 Geiger's next-door neighbor reported that his dogs "were a problem," and would go "crazy, jumping on the fence," and "seemed to go nuts" every time he went in his backyard.
On the day of the attack, the K-9 was not locked in Geiger's backyard secure kennel, as K-9 policy teaches, but loose in his fenced backyard.Case Background
On December 13, Geiger's Belgian malinios, Neo, a dual-certified police K-9 in detection and patrol work (bite work), escaped his property and attacked Betty Long and her neighbor David Fear who 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. Long was released from a rehabilitation center in March.
In September, Geiger was hired by Grover Beach, which does not have a K-9 unit. For weeks after the attack the city would not release the officer's name or details about the dog's training. An expose by The Tribune, detailing Geiger's previous employment, showed his dog was an police-trained K-9 and that one month after Geiger began working for the city -- and a month before his dog attacked Fear and Long -- Geiger unsuccessfully lobbied for a K-9 program in Grover Beach.
Prior to joining the city of Grover Beach, Geiger had worked at the Exeter Police Department in Tulare County with the last year spent as a K-9 patrol officer with Neo. Six months before Geiger moved to Grover Beach -- taking the dog with him as a "pet" -- Neo had bitten a trainer during a "bite suite exercise." The K-9 was not taken out of service afterward. When Geiger purchased the dog from Exeter for $5,287 in August, he signed a waiver relieving Exeter of any future liability.
2It appears Geiger's two dogs escaped more than once from his home on December 13. However, the mailman incident occurred about noon and the attack occurred just over an hour later at 1:15 pm. Whether Geiger's dogs were loose during the whole period should become clear after more testimony and evidence comes to light.
06/12/17: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Former Officer Charged with Felonies After his 'Personal'...
06/30/16: Criminal Trial: Detroit Pit Bull Owner Convicted on Two Counts of Manslaughter...
06/09/16: Criminal Trial: Babysitter Found Guilty After Pit Bull Kills Visiting Baby in Dayton, Ohio
Thursday, July 13, 2017
The Friendly Skies Fade After a Delta Passenger is Severely Attacked by an Unrestrained 'Emotional Support Dog'
Delta is Not Protecting Passengers from Large Untrained Dogs
In early June, a man was repeatedly attacked by an emotional support dog on a Delta flight.
Atlanta, GA - On June 4, the widely abused loophole in three federal acts pertaining to service animals and emotional support animals went viral after a man was repeatedly attacked in the face by an alleged "support" dog on board a domestic Delta flight before takeoff. It was an escalating violent attack. The dog's owner could not stop his canine from mauling the victim, nor did the owner heed to multiple warnings the victim asked before the attack, "Is this dog going to bite me?"
In our extensive examination, we show the conditions of what likely led to this attack on Delta Air Lines and how many dog owners have been gaming the system since the revised Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted in 2010. We also discuss why emotional support animals should be limited in size in airline cabins -- these dogs do not perform a task for persons with disabilities, nor do they require any training. We address how future, similar attacks can be prevented as well.
- Definitions and Gaming the System
- The Unprovoked Attack - Let's Review What Just Happened
- The Case Against Delta - Competing Public Interests
- Inconsistent Safety Policies - ESAs Should Be Limited in Size in Cabins
- Addendum: Psychiatric Service Dogs and Veterans Affairs
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only covers service animals, which are restricted to dogs and miniature horses.1 Service dogs are afforded access to many public places, including grocery stores, public transportation, restaurants and more. Under the ADA, service dogs do not require proof of certified training, licensing or identification, but they must be able to perform tasks for people with physical and mental disabilities. Service animals are working animals, not pets.
Emotional support animals can be a wider range of species than service animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, miniature pigs and more.2The ADA excludes coverage for emotional support animals (ESA) and other animals whose "sole function is to provide comfort." Two other federal acts do cover ESAs, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Unlike service dogs, ESAs do not require any training. A letter from a licensed mental health professional stating the passenger has a mental health-related disability is all that is required for the animal to travel in the cabin. These are Delta's requirements:
- Delta requires documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead from either a licensed medical or mental health professional to be presented to an agent upon check in stating:
- Title, address, license number and jurisdiction (state/country it was issued), phone number, and signature of mental health professional.
- The passenger has a mental health-related disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - 4th Edition.
- That the passenger needs the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger's destination.
- That the person listed in the letter is under the care of the assessing physician or mental health professional.
Safety advocates, as well as many guide dog advocates, point out the ease of gaming the system under all three acts. Anyone can purchase a fake service dog vest and credentials online -- the ADA requires neither -- and claim their dog is a service animal. An entity cannot ask a person what their disability is. They can only ask what tasks a service dog performs. No proof of certified training or licensing is required under the ADA. Thus service dog fraud is rampant today.
Qualifying for an ESA under the FHA and ACAA also means having a disability, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. For instance, being diagnosed with depression does not necessarily mean a person has a disability. The depression has to be severe enough to disable a person, rendering a person unable to cope with daily living. Many of those gaming the system with ESAs claim to have a disabling mental health condition.
Gaining an ESA letter from a mental health professional can begin by taking a 5-minute online quiz. We answered "rarely", "no" and "never" to the key questions and still qualified as a "good candidate." The next step is to purchase the ESA letter ($149 to $199) and a $25 review by a mental health professional, who screens a longer online assessment test. CertaPet.com promises: No pet fees or a security deposit in housing, no airline fees and the letter lasts one full year.3
CertaPet.com, TherapyPet.com, TheDogtor.net and others, are for-profit entities that provide ESA letters via private online assessment.The fraud entails claiming to have a disabling condition and not truly having one under all three acts. The main difference between service dogs and ESAs is that ESAs require no training. Their only function is to provide comfort to a person with disabilities. Unlike service dogs, ESAs are largely housedogs and require no exposure to complex situations, such as a cramped, crowded airplane. Yet in most aircrafts, ESAs are allowed unrestrained in the cabin. What could go wrong?
The Unprovoked Attack
On June 4, Marlin Jackson of Daphne, Alabama, boarded Delta Flight 1430 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport bound for San Diego. When he reached his aisle, passenger Ronald Kevin Mundy, Jr., was sitting in the middle seat with his dog in his lap. Witnesses said the dog, described as a 50-pound lab-mix, growled at Jackson just after he got into his window seat. After Jackson asked three times, "Is the dog going to bite me?" The dog repeatedly attacked him in the face.
Passenger Bridget Maddox-PeoplesWe don't learn many more details until four days later, when Jackson's attorney J. Ross Massey of Alexander Shunnarah & Associates released a statement, along with photographs of Jackson's severe facial injuries. From the incident report, we learn this was an escalating violent attack, which in no way represents a common "dog bite." The 50-pound dog attacked his face once and was pulled off by Mundy. The dog broke free from Mundy's grasp and attacked Jackson again.
There was a call for help. You could hear a dog growling and a bark, and someone scream, "I need help, there's a medical emergency."
His face was covered in blood. It was around his eyes, his nose, his cheeks, his shirt. When he walked out, he had a cloth over his face. It was just completely bloody.
The area was completely covered in blood. They came in and sanitized the area. And replaced the airplane seats.
The gentleman in front of the victim and the dog owner indicated that he had cause for alarm. The dog had been growling at this gentleman and the gentleman said, "Is this dog going to bite me?" three times.
There was no [motion] to remove the dog off the plane. - Fox 5 Atlanta
Marlin Jackson of Daphne, Alabama boarded a Delta Air Lines flight traveling from Atlanta to San Diego on Sunday, June 4. Mr. Jackson was assigned a window seat on the left side of the plane. When Mr. Jackson approached his aisle, passenger Ronald Kevin Mundy, Jr. was sitting in the middle seat with his dog in his lap. According to witnesses, the approximately 50-pound dog growled at Mr. Jackson soon after he took his seat.According to Delta, the attack occurred "prior to pushback," before the plane started moving. What if the attack had occurred 15 minutes later as the plane rushed down the runway, engines roaring, with all flight attendants buckled in? Who could have helped Jackson then? What was this 50-pound unrestrained dog doing on Mundy's lap to begin with? Certainly Delta failed in their policy, which calls for the re-accommodation for passengers with larger service animals or ESAs.
The dog continued to act in a strange manner as Mr. Jackson attempted to buckle his seatbelt. The growling increased and the dog lunged for Mr. Jackson's face. The dog began biting Mr. Jackson, who could not escape due to his position against the plane's window. The dog was pulled away but broke free from Mr. Mundy's grasp and attacked Mr. Jackson a second time. The attacks reportedly lasted 30 seconds and resulted in profuse bleeding from severe lacerations to Mr. Jackson's face, including a puncture through the lip and gum. Mr. Jackson's injuries required immediate transport to the Emergency Room via ambulance where he received 28 stitches. - J. Ross Massey
After Jackson was vacated and transported by ambulance to an emergency center, a Delta crew came in and sanitized the scene, according to Maddox-Peoples. The crew literally pulled out the bloody airplane seats and replaced them with new ones, she said. Local law enforcement did not charge Mundy and ultimately "cleared the dog to travel." Mundy was re-accommodated on a later Delta flight; his attacking support dog was placed in a kennel in the cargo hold for its duration.
No media outlet has been able to reach Mundy since. Delta won't comment on what documentation Mundy presented to the airline.Despite the volume of news articles written about this attack, only Atlanta Patch stated the dog had its rabies vaccination. Delta does not require a health certificate for service dogs or ESAs on domestic flights -- no proof of vaccinations is required. Furthermore, as is standard in most jurisdictions, including Atlanta, there was no 10-day rabies quarantine for the dog in Atlanta. It is unknown if local law enforcement arranged for a quarantine when the dog arrived in California.
Let's Review What Just Happened
- Before the airplane pushed back, a large unrestrained ESA repeatedly attacked a passenger seated next to it on board a Delta aircraft packed with passengers.
- The dog's owner, a 24-year old active duty Marine Corps member, could not stop the dog's first attack or the second, despite the 50-pound dog being within his grasp.
- The 44-year old victim had no way to defend himself or escape. He was trapped in a window seat when a uncontrolled dog seated next to him attacked him in the face.
- Delta does not require rabies vaccinations for service dogs or ESAs. Mundy's dog was vaccinated. But bites to the face may still require rabies vaccine treatment.
- It is unknown if Mundy's dog ever underwent a standard 10-day rabies quarantine, which is a period used to observe a dog for rabies even if it has been vaccinated.
- Mundy was not charged after his unrestrained ESA viciously attacked a passenger. He was re-accommodated on a later Delta flight with his dog flying in a kennel.
- This type of unprovoked attack by an unrestrained dog could have resulted in a dangerous dog hearing had it occurred in any other public environment.
- It is unknown if there is any adjudication process when an "alleged" service dog or ESA inflicts an unprovoked severe attack upon a passenger on an aircraft.
When Fox 5 Atlanta broke the story featuring the vivid testimony by Maddox-Peoples, another important piece of news came to light. Mundy, 24-years old, was seen cradling the dog in his arms in the gate area after departing the plane. According to the flight crew, they saw him weeping and repeatedly saying, "I know they're going to put him down." That was Mundy's response after his allegedly "fully trained" to behave in the cabin ESA viciously attacked a passenger in the face.
According to news accounts, the police report stated Mundy was a military service member with the Marine Corps who "advised that the dog was issued to him for support." We could find no online documentation confirming this statement from any U.S. military branch, which implies the military "issued" this ESA. Recovering service members and veterans may be "eligible" for a service dog through an accredited vendor. Otherwise, it is unclear how soldiers obtain ESAs.
The Case Against Delta
The case against Delta is a complex one. The Delta policy states that ESAs "must be trained to behave properly in public settings" and that a kennel is not required in the cabin "if they are fully trained and meet the same requirements as a service animal." Delta's last condition conflicts with the definition of an ESA, which requires no training, not even basic obedience training. The only true requirement for an ESA in the cabin is a letter from a licensed mental health professional.
The paradox is that if a person with a disability has a dog with the training of a service dog, that dog by definition is a service dog not an ESA.Despite this contradiction, and according to Delta's policy, an ESA that does not require a kennel is equivalent to a service dog in training requirements and for stowing purposes. So Mundy's 50-pound dog should have triggered Delta's re-accommodation for passengers with "larger service animals" if the dog could not fit underseat. But this policy was not triggered on Delta Flight 1430. Instead, the 50-pound emotional support dog was on Mundy's lap in tightly cramped quarters.4
The FAA requires that all service animals be stowed on the floor space below your seat for safety purposes during takeoff and landing -- unless it is a small lap-held service animal. The animal may not encroach on other passengers or extend into the aisles. If a service animal is too large for these conditions to be met in a standard seat, they must be re-accommodated to a seat with more room. Delta did not follow its own service animal requirements nor did it follow FAA regulations.
Competing Public Interests
Jackson's attorney, J. Ross Massey, made several compelling arguments after the attack. We combined the main ones below. First, why wasn't Delta's policy for the re-accommodation of "larger service animals" followed? Second, passengers expect large dogs traveling unrestrained in the cabin to be trained to handle this environment. The other 99% of travelers on a plane have a legitimate public interest in knowing if a large unrestrained dog seated next to them is safe.
Massey makes these arguments without stating the elephant in the room -- the people who are gaming the system by claiming to have a disabling condition and are taking poorly or untrained dogs onto airplanes in order to have their pets fly free. Alarmingly, these people are able to easily do so within the heavily regulated United States airline industry, where safety standards are supposed to be the highest because travel occurs at 30,000 feet in the air at 550 miles per hour!
We are "concerned with Delta Air Lines' compliance with their policies to ensure the safety of all passengers," Massey said in a written statement released the to media. "It is troubling that an airline would allow a dog of such substantial size to ride in a passenger's lap without a muzzle. Especially considering the dog and its owner were assigned a middle seat despite Delta Air Lines' policies that call for the re-accommodation of larger animals."
"We expect airlines to follow procedures as required and verify any dogs traveling unrestrained in the open cabin are trained for handling the large crowds and enclosed environments encountered on board an airplane," Massey said.
In a subsequent Atlanta Journal-Constitution piece, Massey said, "You have two completely legitimate public interests." There is "the public interest for people who need support animals to have the support animals. But the other 99% of paying customers on that plane have a legitimate public interest as well to know that if they are seated next to a large unrestrained animal, that they can at least feel safe that that animal is trained."
Massey said he believes airlines should still be able to require proof of training or a temperament test because the law says airlines must accept animals except when "the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others." - Kelly Yamanouchi, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 14, 2017
Inconsistent Safety Policies
Recently, another glaring airline incident occurred that shows how inconsistent federal and airline policies are in regards to service animals and ESAs versus passenger safety (See: Mom forced to hold toddler during flight). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Delta allow "lap infants." A parent or guardian can travel with an infant under the age of two, about 25-pounds or less, on their lap without purchasing a ticket. Any child over the age of two is required to have its own seat.
The FAA, however, recommends a government-approved child safety restraint system or device, instead of your lap because "Your arms aren't capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence." Yet, it was suitable, at least on this Delta flight, for Mundy to hold a 50-pound unrestrained ESA on his lap. What happened to basic passenger flight safety, such as "unexpected turbulence" or "cabin pressure loss" while holding a large service animal or ESA?
Larger lap-held service animals may be a widespread practice too. Some airlines are effectively not re-accommodating them to save money.5According to FAA regulations, the placement of lap-held service animals (Section 3-3576) is reserved for service animals that need to be in a person's lap to perform a service for a person with a disability. Lap-held service animals can be "no larger than a lap-held child," states the FAA, which is the 25-pound limit. Otherwise, service animals must be stowed underseat within the person's foot space or re-accommodated to a seat with more room if the service animal is larger.
Continuing on at the FAA website, we've inserted bracketed additions in the following: "There is no limit to the number of service animals [or ESAs] that can be on any flight. Service animals [and ESAs] do not need any health certificates to travel and they do not need to be confined in a container or cage." These animals do not need proof of vaccinations -- regular traveling pets do -- nor do they need to be confined in the cabin. Remember how easy it is to qualify for an ESA?
ESAs Should Be Limited in Size in Cabins
"There are a lot of ingredients you could put in place to prevent attacks, including restricting where the dog and its owner sits or how big the animal is," Massey states in the AJC piece. We agree. The public is unconcerned about small ESAs tucked beneath a seat, whose sole function is to provide comfort to a person with disabilities. That comfort, however, must be scrutinized differently when passengers may be forced to sit next to a large unrestrained and unvetted support dog.
Due to the loopholes in the ADA and ACAA that allow people to game both acts, there are more for-profit online companies than ever today promising an individual can be eligible for an ESA that is "free to fly," at least for a year. Since their emergence in 2008, the Department of Justice has done nothing to deter online companies from selling fake service dog and ESA vests and credentials either. The DOJ is enabling an even larger scale fraud than what already exists.
Even in a perfect world, where no fraud existed, there is a legitimate public interest in restricting large unrestrained ESAs in cabins on aircrafts because they are not required to have any training for these cramped conditions. Even Jackson asking three times, "Is this dog going to bite me?" was not enough for the owner to take preventative action. When one combines the reality of air travel with no training or vetting legally required for ESAs, it becomes a safety issue of its own.
This attack by an unrestrained ESA that disfigured a man's face, possibly permanently, should be a wake up call to the Department of Transportation regarding large ESAs in cabins. The dog's owner could not stop the first attack or the second. By federal law, airlines must accept ESAs in the cabin except when "the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others." Yet the law requires no training for ESAs either because their "sole function is to provide comfort."
Addendum - Psychiatric Service Animals
Though psychiatric service animals did not come into play in the Delta attack, they also warrant examination. Psychiatric service animals (PSA) are trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate psychiatric disabilities of their disabled partners. However, PSAs are treated differently under the ACAA than service dogs. Like ESAs, PSAs require a letter from a licensed mental health professional stating the passenger has a mental health-related disability when flying on an aircraft.
PSAs pose additional challenges to airlines -- and a host of other entities -- because mental disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress, are as not as recognizable as physical disabilities. Service Dog Central, a high authority grassroots website, states PSAs were not always treated differently than traditional service dogs on airplanes. The requirement of a letter for PSAs by a health professional only became necessary after too many "fakers" abused the system.
"You can thank the fakers for that because it didn't used to be that way until faking became such a problem," states the website. - Service Dog CentralVeterans Affairs Ongoing Study
In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stopped funding PSAs because the agency is authorized to only pay for evidence-based therapies. The VA only provides service dog benefits to veterans with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. It reads in part, "VA has not yet been able to determine that these dogs provide a medical benefit to veterans with mental illness. Until such a determination can be made, VA cannot justify providing benefits for mental health service dogs."
In late 2011, the VA launched an internal study on whether service dogs can help heal veterans with PTSD. In April 2016, the Associated Press reported that by four years into the study, only 50 dogs had been placed with veterans. Initially, three nonprofits were contracted to provide 200 service dogs for veterans, which would be compared against a control group that did not receive dogs. By August 2012, all three contracts were terminated due to biting incidents and aggression.
The effort soon ran into trouble. The VA cut off two of the three dog vendors following biting incidents involving participants' children. The final contract was terminated in August 2012 amid allegations of lax veterinary care and placement of dogs "with known aggressive behavior," according to VA records. By then, only 17 dogs had been placed."The debate has highlighted an overall lack of standards in the service dog industry," continues Breed. Medical doctors and trainers have conflicting opinions about the study's design. The VA will only pay benefits for service dogs trained by a group accredited by Assistance Dog International. Of the vendors chosen in the revamped study only one was accredited by ADI and none had prior experience training animals for veterans with PTSD. The VA's study is set to conclude in 2018.
During the next year and a half, the study protocol was revamped to exclude veterans with children under age 10. It also dropped the no-dog control in favor of a group that would receive less-specialized "emotional support dogs" whose "sole function is to provide comfort." - Allen Breed, Associated Press, April 21, 2016
Eventually, progress will be made and increased standards of training and accreditation will prevail for psychiatric service animals for veterans. In May of this year, ADI posted to their website they completed developing definitive standards for the placement of service dogs assisting veterans with PTSD. Once the standards are ratified by ADI membership any organization seeking accreditation in order to place dogs with military-related PTSD will have to meet those standards.
2Prior to the revised ADA act taking effect in 2010, service animals could be monkeys and other non-domesticated animals (like reptiles). It is likely true that the horrific attack by a pet chimpanzee on Charla Nash in 2009, leaving her blinded and horribly mutilated, impacted the decision to remove these animals from protections under the ADA.
3Notably, CertaPet states in response to their FAQ, "Can I use this for campus housing?" that CertaPet mental health professionals "no longer accept university housing requests." This appears indicative of the wide spread fraud of ESAs under the Fair Housing Act over the past decade. One must assume it is not logical to believe that so many students have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities allowing for an ESA. Over the years, several university housing organizations have contacted DogsBite.org expressing the rampant abuse in this area. At least CertaPet is no longer offering these letters for campus housing.
4Delta's re-accommodation policy for larger service animals also includes when a person with disabilities has "multiple service animals." In 2015 the Department of Justice issued clarifications to the ADA. One of them was that people with disabilities may use more than one service animal to perform different tasks and that efforts should be made by entities to accommodate each. This includes on airplanes. Thus, dog owners who exploit the well-known loophole in the ADA so their dogs can fly free aren't limited to one service dog in the cabin either.
5We could find no specific "lap-held" policy for service animals or ESAs on the Delta Air Lines corporate website. But we did find information from other airlines. All of them infer or directly state a small animal, in accordance with FAA regulations. American Airlines states, "Animal must fit on your lap, at your feet or under your seat." JetBlue Airways states, "All animals must remain on the floor unless the animal can fit completely and comfortably in your lap." United Airlines states, "Small animals may remain in the passenger's lap during the flight." Spirit Airlines spells out the whole FAA clause, "If your emotional support and/or service animal must sit in your lap … provided the animal is no larger than a lap child." Southwest Airlines also uses the FAA language, "Assistance and emotional support animals can be placed on the aircraft floor or (provided the animal is no larger than a child under the age of two) on the customer’s lap." Finally, Alaska Airlines states, "Service animals should be small enough to sit in the lap of the accompanying passenger with a disability or in the personal space of that passenger's seat..."
Recent news articles:
12/28/16: Phony Comfort Pets, Owners Perplex Airlines - USA Today
10/09/16: Emotional Support Animals? Vague Rules Fuel Conflict - USA Today
02/19/16: Emotional Support Animal System So Broken We Registered a Stuffed, Fake Dog
Related dogsbite articles:
03/17/16: Experienced Dog Trainer Shares Dog Attack Story & Professional Opinion
02/11/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: 'Visiting' Child Killed by PTSD Service Dog in Kentucky
09/27/10: Guest Blog Post - 'Fully Vetted' Pit Nutters and Their Service Dogs
08/17/10: Department of Justice Axes Monkeys, Other Creatures From Service Animals
Labels: ADA, Air Carrier Access Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Delta, Emotional Support Dog, Facial Mauling, Fair Housing Act, Fraudulent Service Dogs, Psychiatric Service Animals, Service Animal