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Saturday, July 23, 2016
On July 14, Kayden Begay, was killed by a pack of pit bulls in Seba Dalkai.
Navajo Leaders Respond
UPDATE 07/23/16: A week after 3-year old Kayden Begay was killed by a pack of dogs in Seba Dalkai, a report from the Navajo Nation Animal Control Program obtained by the Associated Press confirmed the boy was killed by dogs in the area. The report does not specify the breeds of dogs involved or whether the dogs had owners -- which is standard practice for fatal dog attacks that occur on reservations in our experience. The report also states that only five dogs were involved.
This might indicate that at least six pit bulls or their mixes were removed (vacated) from the scene before Navajo Nation authorities arrived.Citing the report, Navajo President Russell Begaye said that five dogs mauled the boy before officials arrived. Two dogs were shot on scene and three were taken into custody and euthanized at an animal shelter in Fort Defiance, Arizona, according to the report. All five dogs tested negative for rabies. Cecil Hubbell Sr., president of the Navajo Nation's Wide Ruins Chapter, said people told him they had reported these dogs before, but officials took no actions until the boy was killed.
The Navajo Nation is about 27,000 square miles -- larger than West Virginia -- with very limited resources. The Navajo Nation Animal Control (NNAC) web page states they only have five officers for the entire reservation.1 In a public message plea for more funding, NNAC states they currently lack the ability to provide services in key areas including: aggressive enforcement of laws, livestock damage investigations, animal-bite investigations, quarantines and much more.
07/18/16: Pit Bulls Kill Boy
Window Rock, AZ - A 3-year old boy was killed by a pack of dogs in Seba Dalkai Thursday. The rural community is located on the Navajo Nation Reservation northeast of Flagstaff. The boy's mother, Kimasha Shorty of Gallup, told the Navajo Times that Kayden Colter Begay was visiting her paternal grandparents in Seba Dalkai at the time. Kayden had followed his aunt outside to get the cattle when a pack of 12 pit bulls owned by the family's neighbor attacked and killed him.
The pack of loose pit bulls belonged to neighbor Marlinda Begay, a relative on Kayden's father's side, according to the boy's mother.Shorty was told his aunt was unaware that Kayden had followed her. “She turned around and saw the dogs gathered around something. She went to see what they were doing, and that’s when she found my son," Shorty told the Navajo Times. The pit bulls attacked Kayden's face, ripping off the left side, and gnawed his thigh to the bone. People in the area had long complained to the Navajo Nation Rangers about the dogs attacking livestock, Shorty said, but nothing was ever done.
After learning about her son's death, Shorty drove to Seba Dalkai from Gallup. By the time she arrived, authorities had destroyed some of the dogs. However, Shorty did not believe they had gotten them all. The Navajo Nation Criminal Investigations Office in Dilkon confirmed that a unit is investigating the boy's mauling death. No charges have been filed so far. Shorty described her son as “the happy kid who ran around shaking everyone’s hand." A fund has been set up for the boy.
Mauling Deaths on Reservations
Kayden is the third person killed on the Navajo Nation Reservation since 2010. In 2012, Tomas Jay Henio, 8-years old, was mauled to death by up to nine dogs a day after Christmas in Pine Hill. In December 2010, Larry Armstrong, 56-years old, was killed by a pack of dogs near Gallup. Since 2010, there have been at least seven fatal dog attacks on reservations nationwide, including the deaths of Julia Whirlwind, 49, Jayla Rodriguez, 8, Deanne Coando, 40 and baby Justin Lopez.
Learn about breed-specific laws on Indian reservations in our State-by-State section.
03/17/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Killed by Dogs on Rosebud Indian Reservation
11/22/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pack of Dogs Kills 8-Year Old Girl on Pine Ridge...
11/17/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Killed by Pack of Dogs on Wind River Indian...
12/31/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Pack of Dogs Kills Boy in Cibola County, New Mexico
03/30/11: 2011 Dog Bite Fatality: 55-Year Old Man Killed by Pack of Dogs Near Gallup
03/11/10: 2010 Dog Bite Fatality: Rottweilers at Home One Day Kill Baby on Iowa Tribal Land
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Elizabeth Rivera, 71-years old, was killed by a family pit bull in southwest Detroit.
Previous Attack Photos
UPDATE 07/20/16: The Wayne County Medical Examiner's office said that 71-year old Elizabeth Rivera died of "crush injury to the neck." The manner of death was ruled an accident. The autopsy was performed on July 17, reports the Detroit Free Press. The following day, Detroit police stated they had completed their investigation, though it was unknown if one or more family pit bulls were involved in the fatal attack. Rivera was found dead inside her home by a relative Saturday night.
WXYZ Detroit reported new details in a news video Monday, along with photographs of Rivera's injuries involving a previous attack by a different pit bull. That attack was first reported as occurring last August. However, the WXYZ video states that it was several years ago, and Rivera had to undergo extensive surgeries and skin grafts after that family pit bull attacked her face. It was later put down. The loved one who spoke to WXYZ would not appear on camera in fear of retaliation.
In both attacks, the severe facial attack and the attack that killed her, Rivera's daughter and her daughter's "boyfriend" owned the pit bulls."I was astonished. I couldn't believe it because of what happened prior. I never thought this would happen again," states the person. "She was the heart of our family. She was a wonderful sweet woman, very compassionate. She went to church all the time, and she does not deserve this. This should have never happened to her," states the person. There aren't words to describe how difficult her funeral services will be. What could the daughter and her "boyfriend" possibly say?
07/16/16: Killed by Family Pit Bull
Detroit, MI - A 71-year old woman was attacked and killed by her own pit bull in her southwest Detroit home. The attack happened about 8 pm at her home in the 2000 block of Ferdinand Street, Sgt. Michael Woody of Detroit Police said. The pit bull attacked the woman, knocking her down then latched onto her neck and executed the killing bite, severing her jugular vein. She died on scene. There were three other dogs in the home at the time. Animal control seized the pit bull.
Click on Detroit reports that all four dogs are pit bulls and were seized by authorities. Family members identified the victim as Elizabeth Rivera. The victim's granddaughter discovered Rivera lifeless on the home's first floor. Family members said the dogs belong to a "boyfriend" of a family member, but Rivera had been around the dogs regularly. Rivera survived a pit bull attack last August from a different dog. It is unclear who owned that pit bull, the "boyfriend" or someone else.
Rivera's home is about a 15-minute drive from where 4-year old Xavier Strickland was brutally struck down by a pack of pit bulls that escaped their owner's property on December 2. Last month, a jury convicted the owner of those pit bulls, Geneke Lyons, on manslaughter. On June 30, Judge James Callahan sentenced Lyons below the guidelines in connection to the boy's death to 5-years probation with the first year to be spent in the Wayne County prison work release program.
Medical study: Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit, by Cheryl L. Loewe MD et al., The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Vol 28, December 2007.
06/30/16: Criminal Trial: Detroit Pit Bull Owner Convicted on Two Counts of Manslaughter...
01/07/16: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: 4-Year Old Boy Savagely Killed by Four Pit Bulls in Detroit
09/15/15: Detroit Man Suffers Catastrophic Injuries in Violent Pack Attack by Pit Bulls
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Mitchell Slayden was attacked by two pit bulls on July 2 in Farmington, Kentucky.
Pit Bull Attack Survivor
Farmington, KY - On July 5, the Kentucky State Police issued a press release about a young man who was badly mauled by two pit bulls. He was airlifted to Tri-Star Skyline Medical Center in Nashville with life threatening injuries. Mitchell Slayden, 22, was riding his bicycle when he entered the driveway of a home on Dove road belonging to Chris Bouland, 27. Mitchell was looking for a man he thought lived at the home, however, that person no longer lived there, states the release.
"When he entered the driveway Slayden was confronted by two pit bulls. As he attempted to leave the driveway the two pit bulls attacked him. Slayden sustained lacerations to his face, head, arms, and legs. He was airlifted to Tri-Star Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, TN with life threatening injuries. The two dogs were taken into custody by the Graves County Animal Control." - Kentucky State PoliceDays go by and we learn very little else. However, we did look up the owner of one of the pit bulls, Christopher Bouland and his near lethal mauler. Bouland has been in trouble with the Kentucky State Police in the past, and is a stereotypical owner of a dangerous pit bull. Mitchell did not stand a chance against the two unrestrained pit bulls kept in Bouland's unfenced backyard. All he had wanted to do was visit a man who he thought still lived at the home. He nearly paid with his life.
On July 13, we learned that Kentucky State Police charged Bouland and Tina Dykes, 45, both of Farmington, with harboring a vicious animal, a class B misdemeanor. If found guilty, the two could face a $200 fine, up to 60 days in jail or both. This is a pittance for the life-altering injuries the dogs inflicted on Mitchell. One commenter noted on the article, "$200 and 60 days? And those are max penalties. What a joke. That's the reason people keep vicious dogs. The penalty is so light."
"Since the attack, the Graves Fiscal Court is considering action regarding vicious dogs. During a meeting Monday night, Judge-Executive Jesse Perry said he and commissioners Todd Hayden, Tyler Goodman and Richie Galloway would be taking a look at a McCracken County proposal -- and possibly others -- to decide what can be done concerning vicious animals." - The Paducah SunWhy Cities and Counties Ban Pit Bulls
The gravely damaging attack, combined with insufficient criminal penalties afterward, are two of three fundamental reasons why municipalities regulate pit bulls. The third reason is the predictable lack of civil recourse. Pit bull owners are often uninsured renters or otherwise uninsured. Even when there is insurance, the standard policy is only $100,000, which is grossly inadequate after a pit bull tears off part of a person's scalp, as was the case with Mitchell's near fatal injuries.
On Wednesday, Mitchell's father spoke out in a troubling piece by WPSD, which partly focused on "why" the attacking pit bulls still had not been released by the Mayfield Graves County Animal Shelter. WPSD quotes kennel attendant Mickie Bailey, who foreseeably responds to the vicious designation of the dogs as, "I don't think they're mean. Misunderstood, maybe, and scared." Bailey should be fired for embarrassing the county, whose prosecutors have filed these charges.
Walter Slayden, Mitchell's father, said the scene was a bloody mess. Slayden found his son lying in a ditch across the road from Bouland's home. Mitchell had tried to run away from the dogs. The pit bulls attacked his face and scalp and his body was covered in dog bites. "I did not think he was going to make it," Slayden said. Doctors will begin reconstructive surgeries next week, he said. When asked what he would say to the pit bull owners, he states, "I don't need to talk to them."
Correct. Bouland is just another "exhausted cliche" owner of a dangerous pit bull and could care less about the health and well being of Mitchell.At the very end of the WPSD video, reporter Brianna Clark noted that she was told that when Bouland and Dykes went to pick up their pit bulls after the 10-day quarantine on Tuesday, "they were very upset they could not take their dogs home." We rest our case about Bouland. If these two pit bulls are put down, Bouland and Dykes will immediately acquire new pit bulls and the process will begin all over again. The only way to stop it is for the county to regulate the breed.
These are just "some" of Bouland's Facebook Likes about pit bulls; he prefers the large ones.
01/25/16: Pit Bulls Lead 'Bite' Counts Across U.S. Cities and Counties
09/01/15: Cities with Successful Pit Bull Laws; Data Shows Breed-Specific Laws Work
06/24/15: Anchorage Pit Bull Attack: The Mechanics of a "Classic" Unprovoked Pit Bull Attack
Thursday, July 7, 2016
2016 Dog Bite Fatality: New Haven Woman Dies After Violent 'Hannibal Lecter' Style Mauling by Pit Bull-Type Dogs
Harvard Graduate, Doctor in Residency Owns the Dogs
Alderman Explores Ideas
UPDATE 07/07/16: The two dogs that brutally attacked Jocelyn Winfrey on June 20, inflicting catastrophic injuries, were put down yesterday. Winfrey succumbed to her injuries and died on June 27. Yesterday also marked the first public statement by Yale University since the attack. Karen Peart, a spokeswoman for Yale, told the New Haven Register that at the time of the attack the owner of the dogs, Dr. Hamilton Hicks, was "on leave" from the school and continues to be.
For the record, Yale University made its first public statement about the incident 16 days after the gruesome attack and 9 days after Winfrey died. The attack was so horrific one witness told the New Haven Independent, still shaken days later, “All the flesh was ripped away from her calf. The artery was just hanging there." The witness added, "Half of her face was basically bitten off. She looked like she was dead." Before dying, Winfrey lost both eyes and underwent a leg amputation.
Coincidentally the Yale Daily News published its first story about the attack yesterday as well. They are not publishing any comments.1Alderman Brian Wingate lives near Hicks' home. After hearing screams, he rushed to the scene to help. Witnessing the two dogs brutally maim Winfrey fundamentally altered Wingate, who has pledged to explore changes in the dog ordinance. During yesterday's Board of Alders meeting, Wingate's order to hold a public workshop relating to dog attacks, vicious dogs and ownership responsibilities was passed. Wingate said he wanted the meeting "sooner rather than later."
The Soul Searching Begins
What can people like Wingate, and the other witnesses and first responders haunted by images of the attack, do at this time? What can the community do, which recoiled in shock, grief and outrage that such a horrific act could occur in their community with no repercussions? The act was an unprovoked savage attack by two pit bull-type dogs in Hicks' private fenced-in yard. He was right beside her and could not stop his dogs in a maiming scene matched only by "Hannibal Lecter."
In 2013, the Connecticut legislature passed a preemption bill barring municipalities from adopting breed-specific laws, including mandatory pit bull sterilization ordinances, which is the very least city officials can do to help protect public safety (Both of Hicks' dogs were male and at least one was unaltered.). Because the vicious attack occurred on private property, at least in this state, New Haven Police said no criminal charges applied. So, Dr. Hicks' has no criminal culpability.
The short answer to our question of "what can be done" after Winfrey's death is "not much." State legislators intended this result in 2013.We greatly admire and respect Wingate and hope that his public meeting can lead to concrete results. These results could simply be an honest discussion about bull-baiting and fighting breeds to raise awareness of the gravely disfiguring injuries they inflict. Also how pit bulls and their close relatives "repeatedly" attack their victims and often refuse to stop even after great violence is inflicted upon them. This is why traumatic injuries and eventually death ensued in this case.
Still the soul searching continues. There is no one to hold criminally responsible for this deadly attack due to completely insufficient criminal laws. There are no adequate municipal tools to prevent similar attacks either. Hicks' can acquire two new "American bulldog-mixes" tomorrow and start this process all over again. A result state legislators also intended in 2013. At the very least, Winfrey's family should have civil recourse because Connecticut is a solid strict liability state.
06/28/16: Images of the Dogs
Today multiple news media outlets published photographs of the pit bull-type dogs that brutally attacked Jocelyn Winfrey on June 20. Winfrey died from catastrophic injuries inflicted by the dogs one week later. The two "American bulldog-mixes" belong to Dr. Hamilton Hicks, who reportedly got the dogs while living in Miami-Dade County prior to moving to New Haven. Last week, Animal Control Officer Joseph Manganiello refused to allow the media to view or photograph the dogs.
06/27/16: Victim Did Not Survive
A 53-year old New Haven woman who suffered life-altering injuries after a violent attack by two pit bull-type dogs last week has died. Alderman Brian Wingate, who witnessed part of the grisly mauling, confirmed Jocelyn Winfrey's death Monday evening. On June 20, Winfrey and the dogs' owner, Dr. Hamilton Hicks, returned to his home. After they entered into his fenced-in yard, his two dogs brutally attacked Winfrey. Hicks attempted to intervene, but he could not stop his dogs.
Wingate previously described the attack as producing "Hannibal Lecter" style injuries. "The attack was really, really horrific." - Alderman Brian WingateWinfrey has been in a medically induced coma since the attack. On Monday, doctors removed her from life support. Doctors previously stated they did not know if she would survive and that her injuries were even worse than what Charla Nash suffered after being attacked by a chimpanzee. Police have consistently stated that both dogs involved in Winfrey's attack are pit bulls. However, Animal Control Officer Joseph Manganiello said the dogs are likely "American bulldog-mixes."
Dr. Hamilton Hicks, who is in residency at the Yale School of Medicine for psychiatry, was charged with a misdemeanor for possession of crack cocaine after the horrific attack. Hicks earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard University then attended medical school at the University of Miami in Miami-Dade County. That is where Hicks acquired the dogs, according to Manganiello, a county with a longstanding pit bull ban that refuses to recognize pit bull-mixes.
Five people have been killed by variances of Miami-Dade's "breed labeling game," primarily American bulldog-mixes, since August 2014.Manganiello also refused to allow any New Haven news reporters to view or photograph the dogs while they are under quarantine. When asked why the dogs butchered Winfrey and attacked their owner, Manganiello said, "I would believe they were protecting their own property.” It has already been reported that Winfrey was familiar with the dogs. These Miami-Dade County "American bulldog-mixes" attacked their Ivy League owner too. Hicks surrendered both dogs for euthanasia.
Doctor Walks Away Scot-Free
In Connecticut, as in many states, unless there is evidence that at least one of the dogs had been adjudicated as dangerous previously, there will be no criminal charges. The deadly pit "bulldog" mauling of Winfrey that occurred on the dog owner's property falls under the loathed loophole we refer to as, Defeated Prosecutor Syndrome. In other words, Dr. Hicks has zero culpability in her death and can acquire new pit bulls or Miami-Dade County "American bulldog-mixes" at any time.
06/23/16: Mauling Victim Identified
The victim has been identified as Jocelyn Winfrey, 53-years old, who remains in a medically induced coma in "extremely grave" condition after two pit bulls brutally attacked her Monday. Winfrey has lost both of her eyes, her right leg and may suffer an arm amputation as well. Doctors do not know if she will survive. Doctors previously stated that Winfrey's traumatic pit bull injuries are even worse than what Charla Nash endured after being attacked by a chimpanzee in 2009.
Winfrey was familiar with Hicks' two dogs. She also recently posted a photo to her Facebook page posing with her own pit bull, named Butter.Police have arrested the owner of the dogs, Dr. Hamilton Hicks, 3-days after the vicious attack on charges of misdemeanor possession of crack cocaine. Hicks is currently in residency at the Yale School of Medicine for psychiatry. Hicks earned his psychology degree from Harvard University in 2001 then attended the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Police say they could add additional charges related to the violent pit bull mauling, especially if Winfrey dies.
06/22/16: Drug Possession Charge
The New Haven Independent reports that police have charged the 37-year old Harvard-trained doctor who owns the attacking dogs with illegally possessing crack cocaine at the time of the vicious mauling. The horrific pit bull attack, described by a witness as "Hannibal Lecter" style, occurred Monday night in the yard of a New Haven home. The doctor and a female friend had returned to his home and entered into his fenced-in yard when his pit bulls savagely attacked her.
“All the flesh was ripped away from her calf. The artery was just hanging there,” another witness recalled, still shaken days later. “Half of her face was basically bitten off. She looked like she was dead. She had to lose two gallons of blood, easy. The front sidewalk in front of the house was covered with blood.” - New Haven IndependentThe female victim, identified only as Jocelyn, suffered the loss of both eyes, her right leg and doctors are trying to save one of her arms, according to Assistant Police Chief Anthony Campbell. "She lost both eyes. She has severe facial injuries. She’s in extremely critical condition," Campbell said Wednesday. Campbell also said that doctors are calling her injuries even worse than the ghastly chimpanzee attack of Charla Nash in 2009, who later underwent a full face transplant.
06/22/16: Horrific Pit Bull Attack
New Haven, CT - Last night we became aware of a nightmarish pit bull mauling at a home on Ella T Grasso Boulevard in New Haven. The owner of the two pit bulls, identified as Hamilton Hicks, entered his fenced-in property with a female friend. As soon as the two were inside, his dogs viciously attacked her. When Hicks intervened, his pit bulls attacked him as well. New Haven Alderman, Brian Wingate, is a neighbor of Hicks and described what he saw in media interviews.
My understanding is that she was a friend -- friends don't let friends get eaten up by their dogs. When I say, "I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life"...Hicks is currently in residency at the Yale School of Medicine. By today, Hicks had removed his Facebook profile. According to other online profiles, Hicks graduated from Harvard in 2001, attended the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine then began a residency in psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. The primary teaching hospital for the school is Yale-New Haven Hospital, where both victims were transported after the "Hannibal Lecter" style attack.
It plays in my head, to be honest with you. Her thighs, her ankles, her arms, part of her face, her ears, were honestly mauled. I could see the bones on her body, in reference to her thighs, her legs, her ankles and her face. It was so bloody, along with mud from the dog prints. Also the owner was muddy from the dog prints ... It was unbelievable...
I've never seen nothing like this. I have only seen this on Hannibal Lecter, in the movies. This was really, really horrific. - Alderman Brian Wingate
The two dogs are described as a pit bull and American bulldog. Media and neighbors captured grainy photos of one of the dogs last night.It is unknown if the woman, named Jocelyn, will survive. On the way to Yale-New Haven Hospital last night, she "coded twice" en route -- she underwent cardiac arrest twice. One commenter (gram14) on the New Haven Independent article last night stated in part, "This young woman lost both her ears, one eye (possibly the other) extreme facial, neck and throat injuries and severe extremity injuries. Due to throat injuries she was not able to be intubated when she coded twice."
Hamilton Hicks has no excuses for his ownership of pit bulls, a dog breed that kills more people than all breeds combined. He has no excuses for not having access to the many medical studies about the horrific nature of pit bull injuries, some studies compare them to shark attack injuries. Hicks has no excuses for not knowing (or caring about) the purpose-bred history of the breed: bull-baiting and dogfighting. The poor choices by Hicks have cost this woman the rest of her life.
Like most pit bull owners, Hicks could not stop his dogs while they viciously mauled Jocelyn leaving her unrecognizable and nearly dead. Hicks, who was in residency to help individuals with psychiatric disorders, frankly needs his own head examined. Recall the types of people who typically own pit bulls. The Independent is now running a vote on whether to ban pit bulls. This is a moot point. Connecticut passed a preemption bill in 2013 that bars cities from regulating pit bulls.
12/30/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by Pit Bull-Type Dog in Miami-Dade...
04/20/15: 2015 First Quarter Report: Municipalities Beat Back State Preemption Bills...
06/24/15: Anchorage Pit Bull Attack: The Mechanics of a "Classic" Unprovoked Pit Bull Attack
06/24/14: Nonprofits Urge CDC to Resume Tracking Richer Data Set for Children and...
05/05/09: Alexandra Semyonova: Heritability of Behavior in the Abnormally Aggressive Dog
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Criminal Trial: Detroit Pit Bull Owner Convicted on Two Counts of Manslaughter After His Dogs Brutally Killed a Young Boy
The Criminal Trial of Geneke Antonio Lyons
UPDATE 06/30/16: Judge James Callahan sentenced Geneke Antonio Lyons, 42, to 5-years probation with a year in "work release" jail after his pit bulls eviscerated a little boy. The sentence was below the guidelines of 19 to 38 months. Prosecutors had originally charged Lyons with second-degree murder, but Callahan threw out that charge. On June 9, a jury convicted Lyons on two felony counts: involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death.
Judge Callahan's sympathy for Lyons and sentencing him below the minimum guidelines cannot be ignored. On December 2, Xavier Strickland, 4-years old, and his mother were walking near Lyons home on Baylis Street when a pack of pit bulls escaped under Lyons' fence and "snatched" the boy from his mother's arms. The dogs dragged Xavier by the hood of his coat across the street, pulled him under the fence and into Lyons' backyard, where they disemboweled him.Moving moments inside Judge James Callahan's courtroom as Xavier Strickland's mother accepts Geneke Lyon's apology. @wxyzdetroit— Nima Shaffe (@NimaShaffe) June 30, 2016
The malicious attack, which began on a sidewalk and ended on Lyons' property, was captured on four surveillance cameras owned by the defendant. The gruesome footage, dubbed "16 minutes of horror," was shown in full to the judge during the preliminary hearing. The trial jury saw 9 minutes of the graphic footage in Judge Callahan's courtroom. We think that same jury, who convicted Lyons on two felony counts, would be shocked at Judge Callahan's light sentence today.
Callahan's message is clear: In Detroit, when your pit bulls escape your property and savagely kill an innocent child, the penalty will be minimal.Our hearts and tears go out to Xavier's mother, Lucillie Strickland, who had to testify not once, but twice -- during the preliminary hearing and criminal trial -- each time reliving the murderous mauling death of her son by four pit bulls. The savage attack left seasoned Detroit police officers stricken and aghast. The public and media reacted with horror and outrage, and demands to finally clean up the "fabric" of Detroit, of which pit bulls and dogfighting have long been woven into.
Of the five fatal dog mauling verdicts in Michigan since 2008, Lyons was ordered to serve the second least amount of time. The highest penalty occurred in 2015 after two cane corsos escaped their owners' property and killed Craig Systma, 46, who was jogging near their home. A judge ordered the couple who owned the dogs to serve just under 5-years. To be clear, it is not that we disbelieve Lyons' remorse. He simply needed a sentenced that properly reflected this crime.
06/09/16: Convicted on Both Counts
Detroit, MI - Today a Wayne County jury convicted Geneke Lyons, 42, of manslaughter after his four pit bulls savagely killed a 4-year old boy in front of his mother last year. The jury returned a guilty verdict on two felony counts: involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death. Yesterday in court, Judge James Callahan threw out the second-degree murder charge, stating that prosecution had failed to provide sufficient evidence for the higher charge.1
"We are pleased with the jury verdict and are happy that they convicted the defendant on the highest charge after the judge dismissed the second-degree murder charge." - Wayne County Prosecutor Kym WorthyOn December 2, Xavier Strickland and his mother where walking near Lyons' home on Baylis Street when a pack of pit bulls escaped under Lyons' fence and "snatched" the boy from his mother's arms. The dogs dragged Xavier by the hood of his coat across the street, pulled him under the fence and into Lyons' backyard, where they mauled him to death. The horrific attack was captured on the defendant's surveillance cameras. Jurors saw 9 minutes of this graphic video.
Geneke Lyons was not remanded to jail; he is free on bond. Lyons will be sentenced on June 30.
06/09/16: Day 6 of Trial: Jury Deliberates
On the sixth day of the Detroit fatal pit bull mauling trial, defense gave its closing arguments. We received confirmation from WXYZ that the jury began deliberations shortly before noon. The jury will be considering two felony charges against Geneke Lyons in connection to the death of Xavier Strickland: involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death. Both are manslaughter charges. A conviction requires finding Lyons guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
As we wait for the jury to reach a verdict in this tragic case, we've gathered the last decade of verdicts in Michigan fatal dog mauling cases.During the 11-year period of 2005 to 2015, dogs attacked and killed 16 people in the state of Michigan. Felony charges were brought after 6 of those deaths; this includes the death of Xavier Strickland. This is a 37.5% rate of bringing felony charges after a fatal dog mauling. The national average during the same period was 18%. Michigan has a felony dog attack statute, which makes this possible. Many other states do not. Below is a summary of the outcomes of those cases.
Michigan Fatal Dog Mauling Verdicts
- 2015: After two cane corsos escaped their owner's property and killed Craig Systma, who was jogging near their home in Lapeer County, the dogs' owners were charged with second-degree murder. Sebastiano Quagliata, 46, and his wife, Valbona Lucaj, 45, reached a plea deal and both pleaded no contest to possessing a dangerous animal causing death. A judge sentenced each to just under 5 years in prison.
- 2012: After a 5-year old boy was killed by a wolf hybrid while under the care of his mother and her boyfriend, the pair pleaded guilty to multiple charges before a Wayne County court. Debbralyn Holland, 31, was sentenced to 2.5 years on charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree child abuse and accessory. Earl Adkins, 37, was sentenced to 2 years for possessing a dangerous animal causing death.
- 2008: After the double fatal mauling in Livingston County -- the owner's pack of American bulldogs escaped their property and killed two individuals -- Diane Cockrell was charged with two counts of possessing a dangerous animal causing death. Cockrell pleaded no contest to both charges after reaching a sentencing agreement with prosecution. Cockrell was ordered to serve a minimum of 3.5 years in jail.
- 2008: Two step-brothers were charged with involuntary manslaughter after a rottweiler they acquired 10 days earlier killed a 4-month old girl. Jason Winters, 23, pleaded no contest to attempted first-degree child abuse and was sentenced to 3 years probation. Christopher Fura, 21, eventually pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter and was sentence to only 6-months in jail and 3 years probation.
06/08/16: Day 5 of Trial: Judge Tosses Murder Two
On the fifth day of the Detroit fatal pit bull mauling trial, Judge James Callahan threw out the second-degree murder charge, but left in place the other two felony charges. This comes as no surprise. The prosecution did not present sufficient evidence showing that Geneke Lyons knew his dogs had a history of escaping before the deadly attack. Prosecutors needed to show that Lyons had "wanton or willful" disregard to cause the death of Xavier to prove the Murder Two charge.
"[The defendant] must have intended for the dogs to be out. To be actively loose in the community. To have created this extremely dangerous hazard." - Wayne County Circuit Judge James CallahanClosing statements by prosecution were made today. Prosecution tried to nail down convictions on the two remaining felony charges, involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death charges. Prosecution argued that Lyons kept the pit bulls outside (these were not house dogs), and in the past, had intentionally left the dogs out to "guard his property." Sadly, we could not locate any reporters live Tweeting during prosecution's closing to provide more details.
Defense will deliver their closing arguments Thursday morning. Jury instructions and deliberation will follow. The remaining felony charges are involuntary manslaughter (also called criminally negligent manslaughter in Michigan) which involves showing recklessness or criminal negligence. The other charge, "possessing dangerous animals causing death," requires the dogs to meet the definition of a "dangerous animal." Both felonies carry a maximum sentence of up to 15 years.
06/07/16: Day 4 of Trial: Medical Examiner
Detroit, MI - On the fourth day of the Detroit fatal pit bull mauling trial, the jury heard testimony from the medical examiner about the boy's horrific injuries and autopsy findings. On December 2, Xavier Strickland, 4-years old, was savagely attacked by a pack of pit bulls belonging to Geneke Lyons while walking down a residential sidewalk with his mother. Lyons faces charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death.
Dr. Leigh Hlavaty, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for Wayne County discussed the autopsy findings during her testimony. “External examination indicate Xavier had extensive injuries - specifically there were 90 puncture wounds and at least 378 abrasions that were on the head, neck, torso, that were on the extremities,” said Dr Hlavaty. “There were also a number of puncture abrasions, that are pinprick sized abrasions. There were too many of those for me to count.”
Dr. Leigh Hlavaty was one of the last witnesses called for the prosecution. On the fourth day of the Detroit fatal pit bull mauling trial, there were no live Tweeting news reporters that we could locate. WXYZ did cover the trial in their evening news coverage. We do expect the trial of Geneke Lyons to end this week. Closing arguments should draw the attention of multiple news reporters, some who will be live Tweeting the proceedings, then awaiting the verdict as the jury deliberates.
06/06/16: Day 3 of Trial: Mother Testifies
Detroit, MI - On day three of the Detroit fatal pit bull mauling trial, Xavier's mother, Lucillie Strickland testified. There were multiple sidebars and objections during her testimony. During cross-examination, Lucillie said her other children would walk through fields to get to school because they were "terrified" of the dogs at the house. Defense introduced the civil lawsuit at the objection of prosecution. The jury was excused as the two sides argued over its admissibility.
Defense also introduced a CPS report, which did not implicate Lucillie. Prosecution strongly objected, saying they had never even seen the document before. The jury was sent out of the room for this debate as well. After reviewing the report, Judge Callahan said the mother is exonerated in the report, as noted at the end of it. Prosecution argued, "It's not relevant. It's not admissible. It's hearsay." Judge Callahan allowed the CPS report in and reminded prosecution:judge says intro. of docs cld "backfire" against defense and that jury might actually have empathy for her and understand civil action.— oralandar brand-wms (@oralandar_DN) June 6, 2016
Two police officers and an evidence technician for the Detroit Police Department also testified Monday. Evidence tech Shana Simmon testified there were gaps, some close to 9 inches high, in the defendant's fence that surrounded the backyard where the dogs were kept (We presume this is the space between the ground and wrought iron gate.). Simmon also testified the dogs had dug a hole under the gate that enclosed the dog run. Thus, the pit bulls escaped from both fences.judge tells pros "you can bury the defense" by them bringing in CPS report which judge says does not implicate mom. #pitbullattacktrial— oralandar brand-wms (@oralandar_DN) June 6, 2016
Follow Oralander Brand-Williams of The Detroit News for live Tweeting of this murder trial.
06/04/16: Weekend Update - Detroit Fatal Pit Bull Mauling Trial
Detroit, MI - So far seven witnesses have testified about what happened on the day Xavier Strickland, 4-years old, was brutally killed by four pit bulls belonging to Geneke Lyons. The dogs escaped beneath a gap under the defendant's gate and "snatched" the boy from his mother's arms as she tried to protect him. Lyons faces charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death in connection with his death.
The Detroit fatal pit bull mauling trial, involving second-degree murder charges after the death of a little boy, resumes Monday morning.On Friday Detroit Police Sgt. David Wright testified, providing the harrowing account as the first police officer on scene and firing shots into three of the pit bulls as they dashed around Lyons' backyard. Wright also testified that Xavier was still conscious when two officers rushed him to the hospital with his devastating injuries. On the first day of the trial, jurors where shown 9 minutes of a 16 minute video of the horrific attack that was captured by Lyons' own surveillance cameras.
The prosecution needs to show that Lyons knew his dogs were escaping to prove the second-degree murder charge, which requires showing the defendant had "wanton or willful" disregard to cause the death of Xavier. During opening arguments, prosecutors stated that phone records and text messages suggest Lyons knew the dogs had gotten out previously. So far, witnesses have testified about Lyons' pit bulls being loose in the past, but none had informed Lyons of this.
Previously, during the primary hearing in January, Judge Lydia Nance-Adams said "someone" at the home knew the dogs had gotten out before, noting the fencing at the home had chicken wire repairs to it, reported The Detroit News. Nance-Adams also described Lyons' home as a fortress where the pit bulls were kept outside. Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Parisa Kiani called the dogs "state-of-the-art” security guards. "They're not dogs. They're security equipment," Kiani said.
Finally and regrettably, we call to your attention what reporter George Hunter of The Detroit News Tweeted early Friday as he began coverage of this high-profile case. There were only two people in attendance. We hope this changes next week when Xavier's mother, Lucillie Strickland, testifies. Hunter also noted Judge James Callahan's unusual policies of allowing jurors to submit questions during the proceedings, which slows down the proceedings, and allowing jurors to take notes.2
Follow Oralander Brand-Williams of The Detroit News for live Tweeting of this murder trial.
06/03/16: Day 2 of Trial: Witnesses Testify
Detroit, MI - Testimony of witnesses who were on scene during the fatal dog mauling resumed Friday morning. Witnesses, starting from yesterday afternoon, include in part: Latoya Samuels-Mattis, who called what happened "the most tragic thing I've ever experienced," Cherisse Williams, who tried to intervene to save the boy and neighbor Roy Hardwick, who the jury sent questions to Judge Callahan about. George Hunter of The Detroit News Tweeted earlier today:
Viewing the Tweets in real time -- which came in like a storm at times -- it seems defense is trying to establish that defendant Geneke Lyons had "no idea" his dogs had been escaping. While various witnesses have testified, "the dogs are out again," at least none so far had communicated this to Lyons. Most tellingly, Lyons' house was "completely encased (in fencing). You can't go up to the porch," witness Yolanda Samuels testified, whose sons were also chased by his loose dogs.Letting jurors ask questions -- and then, after redirects and crosses, letting them ask even more questions -- really slows things down.— George Hunter (@GeorgeHunter_DN) June 3, 2016
During the afternoon, DPD Sgt. David Wright, a 28-year veteran, testified. Wright was close to the location of the defendant's home on Baylis Street. He was the first officer on scene and arrived fast, in about 2 minutes. Wright testified that several people approached his squad car and told him what was happening. He got out of his vehicle and ran to the backyard. He shook the gate and the chain on the gate fell away. "I drew my weapon and went into the yard," Wright testified.
Wright described the chaos in the defendant's backyard as the four pit bulls dashed back and forth and in and out of the doghouse, including one of the dogs Wright had already fired upon. Wright testified that he shot three pit bulls about four times each. Two of the injured dogs ran under the fence and out of his sight, Wright testified. "Two other officers came in; they picked up the boy and took him to the hospital," Wright told the courtroom. The boy was still conscious at that time.Prosecutor: "What happened after you shot (the dog) 4 times?"— George Hunter (@GeorgeHunter_DN) June 3, 2016
Sergeant: "I shot another dog ... because he came toward me."
Proceedings concluded after the defense cross-examined Wright. The trial resumes Monday.
Live tweeting: @GeorgeHunter_DN, The Detroit News and @elishaanderson, Detroit Free Press.
06/02/16: Day 1 of Trial: Jurors Watch Video
Detroit, MI - On the opening day of the Murder Two fatal dog mauling trial, jurors were shown the video of four pit bulls belonging to Geneke Lyons brutally attacking a 4-year old boy. Some jurors held tissues and wiped tears away after watching the footage, reports the Detroit Free Press. The video is from four surveillance cameras on the defendant's property. Jurors saw 9 minutes of the video. During the preliminary hearing in December, it was stated the video is 16 minutes long.
Defense attorney Craig Daly made the above statement outside the presence of the jury, reports the Free Press. Wayne County Circuit Judge James Callahan replied by saying the surveillance video footage is upsetting to any person. It's "understandable that some of the jurors were emotional,” Callahan said. He also stated the court stopped the video at the proper time, reports the Free Press. The video was stopped before the attack ended, reports the Free Press.Defense attorney Craig Daly said five jurors were crying during a portion of video and said it was "inflammatory."— Elisha Anderson (@elishaanderson) June 2, 2016
In the surveillance footage, several of the pit bulls can be seen inside the defendant's wrought iron fence, then outside, then back inside again, where the four dogs surrounded the boy and viciously attacked him. There was no audio for the video, reports the Free Press. The video was played on a screen in a Wayne County Circuit Courtroom during Lyons' second-degree murder trial. The jury is composed of nine women and five men -- two of these jurors will eventually become alternates.
During opening arguments, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Parisa Kiani told jurors that evidence presented will show that Lyons knowingly created a very high risk scenario with his dogs, one that could lead to death or great bodily harm. Part of that evidence lies in phone records and text messages, Kiani said, that suggest "the defendant knew the dogs had gotten out on more than one occasion" in the months leading up to Xavier's mauling death, reports the Free Press.
Testimony by witnesses who were on scene during the attack is expected to begin this afternoon.Kiani: We are here today because Xavier was killed, and the evidence will show the reason he was killed is because of the defendant.— Elisha Anderson (@elishaanderson) June 2, 2016
Follow Elisha Anderson of the Detroit Free Press for live Tweeting of this murder trial.
06/01/16: Opening Arguments Expected Thursday
Detroit, MI - On Wednesday jury selection concluded in a criminal trial for a pit bull owner whose dogs brutally killed a 4-year old boy in December. Geneke Antonio Lyons is charged with second-degree murder and two other felonies in connection to the death of Xavier Strickland. Opening statements are expected to begin Thursday. The Detroit News reports that after 2-days of questioning by prosecutors and defense attorneys, a jury mostly comprised of women was seated.
Prospective jurors were questioned about their attitudes regarding pit bulls, if they were afraid of dogs and about "responsible dog ownership." The News also reports that prospective jurors were asked if they could emotionally endure viewing graphic injury photos and video footage of the fatal attack.3 Judge Callahan said the trial is expected to last less than a week. Callahan also continued his gag order on the mauling case, saying, "we don't want (the case) tried in the newspapers."
This usually means that certain participants cannot talk to the media during the trial. This does not stop reporters from reporting on the case.4The defense is expected to argue that the horrific attack "was an accident" and that Lyons had no "wanton or willful" disregard to cause the death of the child. This is despite the defendant having gaps of up to 9-inches under his gate that in part secured the dogs along with knowledge his pit bulls had escaped the same way in the past. We expect Lyons' "keeping of the dogs" will be a primary focus. To better understand the fencing, watch this video and review this screenshot.
05/31/16: Detroit Fatal Pit Bull Mauling Trial Begins
Detroit, MI - On Tuesday the second-degree murder trial began for a Detroit man whose pit bulls escaped his property last December and eviscerated a 4-year old boy walking with his mother. Geneke Antonio Lyons, 42, is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death. The defendant faces up to life in prison if convicted by a jury on the murder count. Judge James Callahan is presiding over the fatal dog attack trial.
In January, after a preliminary hearing, Judge Lydia Nance-Adams ruled that Lyons would proceed to trial on all charges in connection to the death of Xavier Strickland. The hideous mauling, where four pit bulls disemboweled the boy, was captured on surveillance cameras on Lyons' property. During the preliminary hearing, Judge Adams and two court workers watched the 16 minute video showing horror-struck facial expressions. This video will likely be shown to jurors during the trial.
On December 2, 2015 Xavier and his mother Lucillie Strickland where walking to an elementary school when they passed near Lyons' home on 15500 Baylis Street. Four of his pit bulls flew out from beneath the property's fence and "snatched" the boy from his mother's arms as she fought to protect him. The dogs dragged Xavier by the hood of his coat across the street, yanked him under the fence and into Lyons' yard, where they ripped out his insides in front of his mother's eyes.
"I want [Lyons] to feel the pain I feel. I want him to feel the pain my son felt when those dogs were eating him." - Clarence Strickland, Xavier's fatherThe horrific attack left Detroit police officers aghast and sent shockwaves through the Detroit region, city officials and the media. "Children are facing enough challenges in Detroit. The fangs of wild dogs should not be among them," stated The Detroit News. Columnist Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press went further, urging the city to ban pit bulls, remarking on the "cowardice" of city officials and how pit bulls are "part of the fabric" of Detroit and that it is time for "new fabric."
A month after her son's brutal death, Detroit City Council members passed a resolution promising to toughen laws on vicious dogs. It is unknown if any actual changes ever resulted.5 The boy's parents, Lucillie and Clarence Strickland, also filed two lawsuits against Lyons and the property owner. Mark Bernstein of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm represents the couple. Bernstein also represented Steve Constantine who survived a catastrophic injury pit bull attack in Detroit in 2014.
Read more background at our previous post about the fatal pit bull mauling of Xavier Strickland.
Medical study: Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit, by Cheryl L. Loewe MD et al., The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Vol 28, December 2007.
2Such court details are fascinating to us. A special thanks to George Hunter for being so expressive and descriptive in his Tweet coverage of the trial! Also, at times it felt like we were in the courtroom following his detailed feed.
3Unless an emergency physician, nurse, paramedic, coroner or war veteran, any juror who answered "yes" to this question likely cannot imagine what they will actually have to see -- this is a child too. We pray for them.
4Gag orders do not apply to judicial proceeding held in open court or any documents that have not been placed under seal, according to the Lawyers.com description and purpose of gag orders.
5Detroit Animal Control has a long embattled history. In October, the city decided to move the department from police back to health department oversight. This was primarily to improve its "rescue and foster operations," not for public safety purposes. However, the city stated then that biters and dogs with a long history of nuisance would not be made available for rescue. A few weeks after Xavier was brutally killed, a new director was appointed. More recently, in February, a judge struck down a questionable part of the city's ordinance that must now be amended.
01/07/16: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: 4-Year Old Boy Savagely Killed by Four Pit Bulls in Detroit
09/25/15: Detroit Man Suffers Catastrophic Injuries in Violent Pack Attack by Pit Bulls
07/14/15: Criminal Trial: Couple Charged with Second-Degree Murder After Cane Corsos...
10/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: California Woman Killed by Pit Bulls; Second-Degree Murder...
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
A 3-day old baby was killed by dogs, a mix of Shar-pei and pit bull, at this home.
New Details Released
UPDATE 06/29/16: More details have been released about Susie Kirby, a 3-day old baby girl that was attacked and killed by her uncle's dogs. Prior to going to the bathroom, the mother placed Susie on a recliner-type couch and placed pillows around her so that she would not fall off, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. It was also the mother who propped open the door to let in cooler air, he said. She did not know that one of the dogs with a history of aggression was not tied up.
"While she was in the bathroom, the dog came through the door, grabbed the infant and took that baby outside." - Fresno Police Chief Jerry DyerAt that point, the baby's uncle came home -- he had run out to the store -- and discovered the dogs attacking the baby. "When she came out the child was gone," Dyer said. "In fact, when she was in the bathroom, she heard her brother outside yelling and screaming because he had come home from the store and found the child outside," Dyer said. Police have turned the case over to Child Protection Services for a complete investigation. However, no charges are anticipated.
Third 3-Day Old Baby Killed
Susie marks the third 3-day old baby killed by a family dog this year. In April a pit bull-mix rehomed by the San Diego Humane Society killed 3-day old Sebastian Caban. The young couple was lying in bed with their baby and the dog, when the dog unpredictably lashed out. The couple adopted the male pit bull-mix, named Polo, 5-months earlier, while the mother was still pregnant. It was an unwise decision to adopt this dog and an even worse one to allow it on the bed with a newborn.
In February, 3-day old Aiden Grim was fatally bitten on the head by a family dog in Youngstown, Ohio. A forensic pathologist did not characterize that bite as a "mauling," but rather the dog picked up the baby by the head and its teeth punctured the infant's soft skull causing brain injuries and death. In the case of Susie, this certainly was a mauling. It was a predatory attack by a Shar-pei and pit bull cross with a history of aggression. It also appears that both dogs were involved.
Our heart goes out to the mother. Susie's death, however, was extremely preventable. All three of these baby deaths were. Newborns are entirely defenseless and the most vulnerable of all. All household dogs need to be taken into critical consideration when a baby enters a home. No pit bull-type dogs or other dangerous breeds should be near an infant. In this case, keeping the dogs, one known to be aggressive, "tied up outside" was an unreliable solution that ended in death.
06/27/16: Dogs Kill Newborn
Fresno, CA - Early Monday morning, Fresno Police responded to a call of a dog biting an infant. Up to two dogs attacked the newborn baby at a home on the 3700 block of North Glenn Avenue about 12:30 am. The baby girl was transported to Community Regional Medical Center, where she later died, according to Sgt. Dan Macias. The baby's 33-year old mother had thought her brother's two male dogs were chained up in the backyard when the deadly attack occurred, police said.
A door was left open to allow cooler air to come in. When the mother went to the restroom, one or both dogs came in and killed her baby.The two dogs are described as a mix of Shar-pei and pit bull and are owned by the baby's 30-year old uncle. Police did not identify the baby's mother or the uncle, who surrendered both dogs to the Central California Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The mother told police that one of his dogs is aggressive. The two adults and the baby were the only ones in the house, Macias said. Though charges have not been ruled out, Macias believes this was an "unfortunate accident."
In a late evening report by YourCentralValley, family members identified the 3-day old baby girl as Susie Kirby. The news group also spoke to Sgt. Dan Macias, who said it was the uncle who saw the dog attacking the baby. "She was in the bathroom at the time and heard screaming," Macias said. "That's when the 30-year old man, who had come home, saw the dog biting the child." Though only one of the dogs was involved in the fatal attack, both animals will be euthanized.
04/29/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Rehomed by Humane Society Kills Newborn Baby
02/09/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Newborn Dies After Being Bitten by Family Dog
Friday, June 24, 2016
Erin McCleskey, 36, was killed by a pack of dogs in northeast Travis County.
Judge Orders Euthanasia
UPDATE 06/24/16: On June 15, Erin McCleskey, 36-years old, attempted to serve court papers to a home on Fay Street in northeast Travis County. She exited her vehicle, leaving it running, and opened a gate that led onto the property. As soon as she entered, a pack of dogs on the property mauled her to death. Sarah Scott, the chief administrator for the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, said that her body was found after a neighbor investigated her car by the unlatched gate.
"A neighbor reported a vehicle was running and parked in front of the gate ... This led the neighbor to check out the yard." - Sarah ScottAuthorities impounded six adult dogs, described as four labrador-mixes and two Australian cattle dog-mixes. 14 puppies were also located on the property. The dogs' owners were not present when the fatal attack occurred. On June 24, a Travis County justice of the peace ordered all six adult dogs to be euthanized after hearing testimony about the numerous bite injuries the dogs inflicted. After the ruling, the dogs' primary owner, Terry Swanson, vowed to appeal the decision.
Swanson and his uncle, Robert McCray, and McCray’s wife, Marjorie Kalinec, have been the primary caretakers of the dogs. McCray is the person who discovered McCleskey's body. The dogs' owners blamed the victim for her own violent mauling death during the hearing, saying that McCleskey failed to heed the property's no trespassing sign. Justice Herb Evans, however, had the final word, noting: “She didn’t deserve to die, and these animals don’t have a license to kill."
"We’re victims. This never would have happened had she listened to the signs. … I feel like I’ve been violated." - Marjorie Kalinec, caretaker of the dogsAssistant County Attorney Annalynn Cox, who argued on behalf of the county to have the dogs euthanized, "expressed indignation" by the lack of any remorse shown by the dogs' owners for her death, reports the Austin American-Statesman. We will add to this extreme narcissism, a total lack of empathy and antisocial deviance, the building blocks of a sociopath.1 Studies show these traits are often seen in owners of vicious dogs. We see them all the time after a fatal dog attack.
06/16/16: Woman Found Dead
Manor, TX - On Wednesday, deputies were dispatched to the 12300 block of Fay Street in response to a 911 call made by a caretaker who had come to the property to feed dogs, according to a news release issued by the Travis County Sheriff's Office. Deputies arrived about 9:00 pm and found a woman dead that had been attacked by a pack of dogs. Authorities identified the victim as Erin McCleskey, 36-years old, of Austin. The location of the attack is northeast of Austin.
A medical examiner later determined McCleskey had been dead for at least five hours before being discovered by anyone. - KXAN News"It appears Erin McCleskey was visiting the residence on a business related matter and entered the front gate of the property where she was attacked by the animals," states the release. Her body was transported to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office where an investigation into the cause of death has begun. Authorities impounded six adult dogs that were loose on the property. Officers also located 14 puppies that were confined on the property, states the release.
Evening News Updates
The Austin American Statesman reports that McCleskey was a process server who visited the property on Fay Street yesterday to serve civil papers. Sheriff’s office spokesman Roger Wade said the 20 dogs -- six adults and 14 puppies -- belonged to Terry Swanson who has been away for the past month and had left a caretaker in charge of feeding his dogs. About 9:00 pm last night, the caretaker arrived on the property and found McCleskey's dead body near the front gate.
The Statesman spoke to Casey Cox, the chief operating officer of EZ Messenger. McCleskey was an independent contractor and was serving papers for his company that day, Cox said. She is also the daughter of his business partner, Michael Shapiro, and lived with her parents, Cox said, "so it’s definitely hit home for us." The Statesman tried calling Donald Swanson, who is listed on records as the owner of the property, along with Terry Swanson, but their numbers were disconnected.
Our hearts go out to McCleskey's family and friends. She died alone in a vicious pack attack that apparently began after she opened the gate.The adult dogs are described as labrador-great pyrenees mixes and two husky-Australian cattle dog mixes, according to the news release. They are being held in quarantine. It's unknown where the Swansons are currently. Interestingly, KXAN reports that despite 20 dogs being on the property, the sheriff's office told them, "they do not believe this was a breeding situation." It is unclear what else one would call six dogs and 14 puppies penned separately in an outdoor area.
Texas Dog Bite Victims' Advocacy - Join our Texas email list to stay informed
06/12/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies After Vicious Dog Mauling in Southern Dallas
05/19/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Mauled to Death by Pack of Dogs in Miami-Dade County
03/25/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Woman Dies After Violent Dog Attack In Thurston County
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Cities in Province of Quebec Move to Adopt Breed-Specific Bylaws After Pit Bull Horrifically Kills Woman
Quebec Provincial Officials Signal Similar Pursuit
Medical responders on June 8 seen removing the body of Christiane Vadnais.
Montreal Seeks Ban
Montreal, CA - On June 8, Montreal city officials, media members and the public recoiled in horror after a 55-year old woman was savagely killed by a neighbor's pit bull while in her own backyard. The nightmarish unprovoked attack that left Christiane Vadnais dead and first responders shaken to their core, occurred in Pointe-aux-Trembles, one of Montreal's 19 boroughs. Since this time, the cities of Quebec, Brossard and Montreal have announced their intentions to adopt a pit bull ban.
Quebec provincial officials have also announced their intention of a adopting a breed-specific bylaw province-wide by the end of this year.The deadly attack of Christiane came just a few weeks after an investigation by La Presse showed that pit bulls were the primary offenders in serious attacks, causing the debate about dangerous dogs in Montreal to intensify. The end result was to establish a uniform set of rules for dangerous dogs across all 19 boroughs in Montreal by 2018. A breed-specific bylaw had not been ruled out at that time. Now in the wake of Christiane's death, city officials are resoundingly favoring a ban.
Humane groups in Montreal fired back with the same staggering deceptions and obfuscations about pit bulls as they do in the United States. Except that in many cities across the province of Quebec, no one is listening anymore. The horrific death of Christiane and preventing future deaths like hers outweighs the rights of a fringe group of dog owners -- pit bull owners. There are over 300 other dog breeds far more adapted to life in society today; so chose one is the prevailing logic.
Witnessing Historic Event Unfold
As the second most populace province in Canada turns its weight toward a breed-specific pit bull ban, second only to the province of Ontario, which has banned pit bulls since 2005, Americans are witnessing an historic event unfold. Canadian officials in Quebec are responding to the public outcry by placing the safety of their citizens first and foremost and also pointing to the excellent results Ontario achieved after adopting its ban; vicious attacks by pit bulls dropped dramatically.
The year before the Ontario ban went into effect, 2004, there were 168 pit bull bites in it's largest city of Toronto, by 2013 there were only 13.1What is happening in the province of Quebec right now is a stunning contrast to the U.S., where many politicians -- and major media outlets too -- slink under tables at the very utterance of breed-specific legislation due to fear of being attacked by pit bull advocates. Even the CDC, our nation's "health protection agency," is not brave enough to take a stance in this area for American children. At least in parts of Canada, this sobering chart of U.S. fatal pit bull attacks is wholly unacceptable.
The chart is wholly unacceptable to DogsBite.org and our many dedicated supporters as well. We issued this chart last year when investigating the history of state preemption laws in the U.S. that bar local governments from enacting pit bull laws. The death chart shows that CDC abandoned this issue in 1998. Since that time, there has been a 560% increase in human deaths inflicted by pit bulls. The "American scene" of fatal pit bull attacks stands as a grave warning to all countries.
FACT: Across the world, over 40 countries -- or parts within these countries -- regulate pit bull terriers. It does not matter the country or the continent. Wherever this breed appears, it maims and kills people disproportionately. These countries include, but are not limited to: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bavaria, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guyana, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Lativa, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, Switzlerland, Turkey, Turks & Caicos Islands, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, United States and Venezuela.
01/25/16: Pit Bulls Lead 'Bite' Counts Across U.S. Cities and Counties
09/01/15: Cities with Successful Pit Bull Laws; Data Shows Breed-Specific Laws Work
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence' Say the High Courts
06/24/15: Anchorage Pit Bull Attack: The Mechanics of a 'Classic' Unprovoked Pit Bull Attack
04/20/15: 2015 First Quarter Report: Municipalities and Grassroots Beat Back State Preemption...