DogsBite Blog ::
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Location of family pit bull attack that left a man dead and a woman seriously injured.
Pit Bull Confirmed
UPDATE 02/17/18: On Thursday evening, Owensboro Police and Owensboro Fire responded to a home in the 2300 block of Heritage Park Drive at about 6 pm after reports of a dog attack. When police entered the home, they shot and killed a large aggressive dog and tasered a beagle. Police found David and Dana Brown on the ground with injuries after trying to break up a fight between two family dogs. It has now been confirmed that the larger aggressive dog was a family pit bull.
In a Messenger-Inquirer article, which is behind a paywall, Daviess County Animal Control Director Ashley Clark described the large dog as a pit bull. This confirms what multiple people close to the case have been stating on social media in the aftermath of Thursday's attack. David G. Brown, 46, was pronounced dead at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital after the attack. As of Friday, his wife Dana Brown, 45, was also hospitalized at the same location and listed in fair condition.
Officer Andrew Bell, public information for the Owensboro Police Department, told the Messenger-Inquirer that Dana told officers the incident began after the family pit bull and beagle got into a fight. When Dana tried to break up the fight, she was attacked, Bell said. When David came to help, he was also attacked. "He jumped in, and they turned on him," Bell said. Daviess County Coroner Jeff Jones said the attack was a factor in Brown's death; he also had heart issues.
Clark provided additional details about the couple's dogs, noting that they were all fixed and well cared for. "The dogs were well-taken care of," Clark said. "They were clean and fixed. You could tell they were beloved pets of the family." The pit bull "was probably 90 pounds," Clark said. The family's third household dog, a dachshund, was also attacked by the pit bull during the fight. The surviving dogs were removed from the home and will be placed with family members, Clark said.
02/16/18: Man Dies After Dog Attack
Owensboro, KY - A man is dead and a woman was injured after being attacked by a dog, according to information provided by the Owensboro Police Department. The attack occurred around 6:00 pm in the 2300 block of Heritage Park Drive in the Heritage Park neighborhood in Owensboro. At least three dogs resided at the home, but apparently only two were involved in the attack. A responding officer shot and killed one of the dogs after it tried to attack the officer.
Archive dispatch calls from Owensboro Fire -- accessed through Broadcastify.com -- indicate traumatic injury from a dog attack involving at least one victim. "Engine 3 response for a traumatic injury in reference to a dog attack ... Heritage Park Drive ... Do have OPD in route. Two dogs are still outside that attacked the subject ... Engine 3 response for a traumatic injury in reference to a dog attack. Ambulance is already responding ... male that was attacked by two dogs," she states.
A few minutes later, the dispatcher states, "Male subject was attacked by two dogs and went inside his residence. Caller is advising someone is possibly giving him CPR at this time. Just use caution as the two dogs are still in the front yard." A variety of unverified Facebook comments from people close to the case indicate the surviving female victim went into emergency surgery, the man who died may have also suffered a heart attack and that the culprit was a family pit bull.
Friday Morning Update
Continuing on the 14 News comment thread we were viewing last night, more people directly involved in the case spoke out Friday morning. Casey Cecil, who would not "say the breed," said her son was there and that police shot the dog when it chased her son into a car. "My son was there and was the one that called the cops for help." Melody McKinney said her daughter was there too, "She too can't get the screams out of her head." McKinney stated the dog was a pit bull.
Both Cecil and McKinney agreed, "If any one of our kids tried to intervene more than they did, we would be planning their funerals today." McKinney added, "They [the kids] also kept the wife from being attacked and some neighbors who had pulled up and got out of their car. The kids were screaming, 'Get back in your car' because the dog was headed their direction. They saved several lives last night. Including their own!" We are still waiting on confirmation from Owensboro police.
Friday Afternoon Update
14 News released an update Friday afternoon confirming some of the Facebook comments. Responding officers arrived to a scene of two aggressive dogs; they shot and killed one of them due to its aggression. When officers entered into the Heritage Park home, they found an injured man and woman lying on the floor. Both suffered injuries while trying to break up a fight between their family dogs. Police have identified the couple as David Brown, 46, and Dana Brown, 45.
David Brown did not survive his injuries. The Daviess County Coroner’s report states that he suffered a cardiac arrest that was complicated by the dog attack. Last night people close to the case said that Dana underwent emergency surgery. Comments from this morning indicate that four teenagers were near the scene, one even called police for help. Multiple people close to the case have stated the attacking dog is a pit bull. Presumably, the same animal police shot to death.
01/03/18: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Attack Couple on Christmas Eve, Killing One...
07/12/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Pack of Dogs Kill 79-Year Old Man in McCreary County
03/12/17: Young Man Airlifted After Vicious Pit Bull Mauling in Graves County, Kentucky
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
By Kory Nelson
While the Editorial Board of the Denver Post had recently declared “Pit Bull bans are still justified” (1/29/2018), former local Denver KNUS radio show personality Krista Kafer was granted the privilege of having her opposing published by the Denver Post (“Castle Rock contemplates sensible change to pit bull ban”, 02/01/18). Ms. Kafer served as the senior expert on education policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. before returning to Colorado in 2004 where she taught at the Colorado Christian University, while co-hosting an afternoon radio show with Steve Kelley. If a state school board was looking for advice on the options of school choice, I’m certain Ms. Kafer would be an excellent reliable source for policy determinations, but when it comes to public safety policies designed to protect the public from the most horrific forms of injuries and death known to domesticated communities, I would prefer Ms. Kafer, likewise, seek out the experts whose opinions and policies have been based upon reliable scientific evidence, tested and hardened through the fires of civilized combat in the one arena where Americans have always respected -- the American system of jurisprudence. Unfortunately, Ms. Kafer’s opinion rests upon her faulty research and reliance upon information provided by what is often referred to as “The Pit Bull Propaganda Machine”. All she does is suggest that the mothers and fathers of Castle Rock children should offer up their children’s flesh, scalps, limbs and lives on the “hope” that 100% of pit bull owners are responsible enough, and good enough, to train their dogs against their natural instinct. Two of the world’s best animal trainers, who had an endless supply of time and money, attempted to do exactly that with their dangerous animals -- but that ended disastrously too for Siegfried & Roy. How many children, senior citizens, domesticated pets, or livestock is she willing to forfeit?
In my legal career, I have individually reviewed and handled thousands of dangerous dog attack and bite cases -- more than any other attorney in the Rocky Mountain region. I have reviewed some of the most horrific fatal pit bull attack cases in Colorado. The last fatal dog attack in Denver occurred in 1986, when little 3-year old Fernando Salazar wandered from his home into his neighbor’s yard where their family pet dog was unattended while restrained only by a chain. When Fernando walked into the “Radius of Death”, the Pit Bull’s attack upon his small head and neck was quickly fatal. In 2003, Jennifer Brooke of Elbert County was literally torn apart by the three pit bulls who cornered her when she went out into her horse barn, leaving behind a blood-splattered crime scene as a testament to the battle she put up -- but also clearly showed it was a prolonged battle, which could have only been full of anguish and torment. I have also reviewed many fatal pit bull mauling cases in other states, consulted with the world’s leading certified animal behaviorists, and talked with hundreds of first responders, animal control officers, emergency medical personnel, medical doctors, plastic surgeons, veterinarians, victims, and the friends and family members of victims. I have had the privilege and honor of successfully litigating the policy issue of pit bull bans, presented legal seminars on the topic at national legal conferences, and have provided legal consultation to governmental entities across the United States and Canada on the topic.
The Undeniable Truth
The issue of public safety policy in relationship to “pit bulls” has one undeniable truth -- well written pit bull bans have a 100% success rate in the courts, with each and every case having the same exact ruling: Pit Bulls ARE more dangerous than other breeds of dogs, so government’s differential treatment of them is rationally related to the legitimate, and often cited as THE primary, governmental interest -- the safety of the humans the government serves. It is that amazingly consistent ruling, over and over again, that should be recognized for the ultimately significant reality -- This Truth cannot be denied by rational people. Therefore, with the danger being unique to Pit Bulls, and government acting within its primary purpose being reaffirmed as being “rational” -- only the question is by which manner should the government act.
The Level of Danger from Pit Bulls is Undeniably Unique
Ms. Kafer suffers from the classic misunderstanding that “aggressive behavior” presents the same level of danger -- so the only issue is the probability of “it” happening. However, the true difference between pit bulls and other breeds of dogs is like the difference between firecrackers and hand grenades -- the statistical probability of an accidental detonation may be incalculable, but the difference in potential damage makes one much more dangerous than the other. Pit Bulls were selectively bred for one purpose: Bull Baiting, and then dog fighting -- the desired behavior that are inherently and permanently engrained into this line of dogs are the following -- initiating surprise attacks on much larger animals, biting their head or neck area, “holding” that bite (refusing to release no matter what force or trauma is inflicted), and then shaking their head back and forth, causing the ripping and tearing of their victims’ flesh and blood vessels, causing them to bleed to death. When this behavior is suddenly triggered against humans, the Pit Bull “Bite, Hold and Shake” style attack can cause severe bone and muscle damage, often inflicting permanent and disfiguring injuries, including the loss of limbs, and a high proclivity of children being scalped, their head’s skin and hair being ripped off their skulls. Moreover, once a pit bull starts an attack, their tenacity, strength, and greater tolerance of pain inflicted by trauma results in the reality that the only way to stop these attacks is most often through the use of deadly force.
Attempting to Hold Pit Bull Owners “Responsible” AFTER Attacks is Folly
As the level of danger from Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) is so high, the idea that public policy should focus solely on holding terrorists responsible AFTER they use WMDs is insane, as it surrenders the concept of preventing the harm for the speculation that the terrorists would be deterred by the fear of punishment. With a significant portion of fatal pit bull attacks where the victim is the innocent child, relative, or female companion of the dog owner -- there was absolutely no prior indication of the pit bull being aggressive -- no prior attacks, no prior bites, and on the date of the fatal attack, no growling/barking or other behavioral precursors of the pending attack. Pit Bulls have been selected bred for their suppressed behavioral indicators of their rising level of aggression, which gives them the advantage in the dog fighting ring -- but makes them incompatible as a domestic pet.
Visual Three-Dimensional Evaluations By Trained Judges Are Sufficient & Workable
Every year, the world watches as trained judges evaluate dogs’ physical characteristics against written standards at the Westminster Kennel Club’s National Championships at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It is not difficult, as every Court has found. For example, “Pit Bull dogs possess unique and readily identifiable physical and behavioral traits which are capable of recognition both by dogs owners of ordinary intelligence...” -- Supreme Court of Ohio (Ohio v. Anderson, 1991). The Pro-Pit Bull Propaganda Machine (and those who are suckered by them) often tries to sow confusion and doubt through their use of two-dimensional photographs of dogs as an unfair trick -- a ploy -- what we call in logic a formal fallacy. This one is a “straw man argument” -- an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man”. No reasonable expert would ever suggest evaluating a dog based upon photographs. Westminster judges don’t use photos -- why would anyone else?
Castle Rock’s Animal Code Review Team’s Recommendations on Pit Bulls Are Fraudulent
In reviewing this unidentified groups’ document, it appears to have been written by a group who is attempting to mislead both the citizens of Castle Rock -- and their Town Council. Here are the key indicators:
- This team cries out for change because they are “prosecuting a dog that has not done anything wrong, but instead is in the Court system based solely how the dog looks”. Folks, this is how government protects the public from wild and dangerous animals. Lions, tigers, coyotes, wolves, and pumas -- they are banned because of their potential for inflicting massive injuries and death upon their victims -- the animals are not “prosecuted”. Ask them how they tell the difference between a Wolf and an Alaskan Malamute -- by how they look! This statement of their philosophy exposes their naїvety and their complete surrender to the adoption of anthropomorphic reasoning of the pro-pit bull propaganda machine.
- The team relies upon “bite data”, claiming the “lack of scientific data suggesting one breed is more or less aggressive than another.” Are they so naїve as to not understand the very basis for all the legal decisions that support Pit Bull Bans, or are they intentionally misleading everyone? It’s not the likelihood of any one Pit Bull acting “aggressively” -- it’s the shear amount of damage they cause when they DO attack! Punishing a pit bull owner AFTER their dog kills their neighbor’s child does nothing to bring the child back to life.
- “Review of our neighboring jurisdictions” -- they seem to have reviewed, but completely ignored the two largest cities -- Denver & Aurora -- who both ban pit bulls.
- The team claims that BSL is not endorsed by the State of Colorado (C.R.S. § 18-9-204.5, et. seq). Castle Rock’s legal team should be sanctioned for such a misleading statement. How can any ethical attorney cite a statute as authority for such a position when that same statute was THE subject of a major lawsuit in 2004 which was ultimately declared by the Colorado Judiciary as a violation of the Colorado state constitution? The Colorado Attorney General’s Office acknowledged the validity of that ruling in dismissing an appeal before the Colorado Court of Appeals! The Colorado courts and the A.G.’s Office have acknowledged that C.R.S. § 18-9-204.5, which attempted to prohibit municipalities from enacting BSL, violated the Colorado Constitution’s Home Rule Authority provision. How did that happen? The trial court found that the City & County of Denver had proven that the scientific evidence that the Colorado Supreme Court relied upon in its 1999 Colorado Dog Fancier’s decision, upholding Denver’s pit bull ban, was still reliable, but also that Denver had provided additional new scientific evidence that had not been considered in 1999 -- such as the exponential increase in dangerousness of lethality involved in a multiple pit bull mauling (specifically expert witness testimony about the 2003 fatal mauling of Jennifer Brooke by 3 pit bulls in Elbert County). C.R.S. § 18-9-204.5 was the result of the pro-pit bull propaganda machine’s massive expenditure of lobbying money on behalf of pit bull breeders and owners, where the victims and their families were not represented and not heard. But the District Court trial judge heard ALL the evidence, and ruled in congruence with every other court in the United States. How do I know all this? I was the attorney who won that case in the trial court and successfully convinced the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to dismiss their own appeal of that trial court ruling, which therefore means that Castle Rock, and every other home rule municipality now enjoys the liberty to make their own decision on BSL. It only needs to be based on the Truth, and not the horrific misrepresentations made by the Castle Rock Animal Code Review Team.
- “Practical Consideration” -- the team expressed concerns over pit bull owners who aren’t aware of the Town’s pit bull ban. Really? Remember “ignorance of the law is no defense”? In reality, no pit bull owner is truly ignorant of pit bull bans. They are all well aware of the controversy over these dangerous dogs. They are aware of the largest populated cities in Colorado having pit bull bans. It sounds like Castle Rock’s legal team is simply too naïve and too willing to accept these excuses and stories as the truth. In reality, these pit bull owners are fully aware of what cities have these bans -- and they exchange information on the Internet about Castle Rock’s lack of strict enforcement, leading them to attempt to hide their pit bulls within the Town -- hoping no one will find out. What Castle Rock needs is a whole new animal code enforcement team that will stop frustrating the will of the Town Council and do their jobs. IF they are more concerned with protecting the owners of pit bulls than protecting the citizens of Castle Rock’s very lives -- and the lives of their children, other domesticated pets, and livestock -- I suggest they are in the wrong profession.
Deputy Town Attorney Heidi Hugdahl’s legal team needs to stop whining about their pit bull law being “difficult” -- as the blame belongs on them. They simply are making it much harder on themselves than they need to -- especially in terms of their idea that they should obtain DNA tests. This is a false and artificial standard -- a red herring. There is no legal requirement for DNA testing, and there is no DNA genetic “standard” for breeds by which to obtain a comparison. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that Denver’s definition of “Pit Bull” was constitutional, and not unenforceable for being too vague, as “There is no constitutional requirement that legislation be written with scientific precision to be enforceable”. DNA is great for matching a suspect’s body fluid to a crime scene, but there is no generally accepted scientific basis to define a “pure” Pit Bull through DNA sequencing. No other jurisdiction I know would seriously consider taking on such a meaningless, expensive, and unnecessary burden in their enforcement policy and procedures. Their policy should change by stopping the use of DNA, and their attorneys should learn how to block the admission of any offered DNA evidence, as there is no sound scientific methodology involved in the determination of the standard by which any DNA sample is measured. So the changes in policy needed are simple ones that would make is easier to administer, while strengthening its enforceability.
Who Will Advocate for The Victims?
Who are the future victims? Will they show up to speak out to the Castle Rock Town Council? How can they, when they don’t know who they are? The Town Council, the Police Department, hospital emergency staff, and others need to speak up for those city residents who depend upon government to provide for their safety. Other good sources of information are national groups supporting victims, such as www.DogsBite.org and www.daxtonsfriends.com -- all these groups were started by victims and families of pit bull mauling victims -- who are extremely credible in their honorable efforts to pull together the overwhelming scientific evidence and judicial decisions that help educate the public and policy makers.
The Final Decision is Up to the Town Council:
In the popular 2015 movie, Jurassic World, actor Chris Pratt played the character Owen Grady, who trained four Velociraptors. In an important scene, Owen rides his motorcycle alongside the running Velociraptors, while they hunt another rampaging dinosaur. If you have seen this movie, did you ever trust Owen’s capacity to control those Velociraptors? Are you willing to bet your life, or the lives of those most precious to you on the capacity of any Pit Bull owner to absolutely prevent any attack by their mini-velociraptor? Will Castle Rock continue to be Family-Friendly, or will be it a “Jurassic World”, where residents and visitor alike run the unreasonable risk of being mauled by large, strong, tenacious animals who rip and tear their victims while they are still alive? There is absolutely nothing 100% unique about Pit Bulls that is positive that can outweigh the 100% unique dangers Pit Bulls present to humans, other domesticated pets, and livestock. Castle Rock Town Council needs to put human lives first. Beefing up Castle Rock’s municipal ordinances as to other breeds of dogs is a good idea, there just is absolutely no reason to revoke the pit bull ban -- but they can make it easier to enforce. They should start with making wholesale changes to their animal code enforcement personnel and city prosecutors who are failing to enforce the current pit bull ban in a meaningful and effective manner.
View Colorado Breed-Specific Laws in a larger map
10/20/16: Montreal Pit Bull Ban, What the Vets Omitted and How the Pit Bull Lobby Operates
09/08/15: Dog Bite Victims' Group Releases FAQ about Breed-Specific Legislation
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence' Say High Courts
11/24/14: Aurora Voters Favor Keeping Pit Bull Ban by Wide Margin in First General Election Vote
08/25/09: The History of the Denver Pit Bull Ban and the Victims that Prompted New Law
Jul/2005: Why Pit Bulls Are More Dangerous and Breed-Specific Legislation is Justified
Friday, February 2, 2018
2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by Babysitters' Pit Bull-Mix in Grayson County, Virginia
Both Convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter and Other Felonies
Authorities charged John Underwood II and Terra Connell with second-degree murder.
UPDATE 02/02/18: A Grayson County Circuit Court has sentenced both babysitters in connection to the dog mauling death of a 15-month old baby who was under their care at the time. The two defendants held separate trials. In May 2017, John Terry Underwood II, 52, was sentenced to 25 years in prison (with 18 years suspended), after being found guilty of failing to contain a vicious dog, resulting in serious human injury; felony child neglect; and involuntary manslaughter.
Payton Lyrik Sawyers, 15-months old, died on January 8, 2016 after suffering life-threatening injuries inflicted by the couple's pit bull-mix.On January 26, Terra Lynn Connell was ordered to serve 15 years behind bars and a suspended sentence of seven years. Connell's sentence includes a 10-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter, a 10-year sentence for felony child endangerment (with five years suspended) and two years (suspended) for possessing a dangerous dog. Both Underwood and Connell have been held at the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin without bond since the fatal dog mauling.
The two had initially been charged with felony child neglect and possessing a vicious dog. When Payton died of her injuries two days after the attack, the pair was also charged with second-degree murder. The murder charge for Underwood was downgraded to involuntary manslaughter when entered an Alford plea for his charges last March. The murder charge for Connell was downgraded when she submitted a plea in Grayson County Circuit Court just before her jury trial.
01/13/16: Babysitters Charged with Murder
The Grayson County Sheriff's Office has charged a couple with murder after their pit bull brutally attacked a child who was under their care. John Terry Underwood II and Terra Lynn Connell have been charged with second-degree murder in connection to the mauling death of 15-month old Payton Sawyers. The two had initially been charged with felony child neglect and possessing a vicious dog. Then Payton died of her injuries. Now the two are also facing murder charges.
The new charges come after investigator A. G. Horton interviewed witnesses who had previously observed the dog being aggressive towards other animals and humans, according to a statement on the Grayson County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. After learning this information and consulting with the Commonwealth's Attorney, Horton and Sheriff Richard Vaughan were advised to seek additional charges against the two, felony homicide, which is second-degree murder.
Underwood and Connell had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensities and still did not protect the child from the dog. Murder charges ensued.This marks the fourth case since May 2013 when prosecutors filed murder charges after a fatal dog mauling. Most recently in Detroit, Geneke Lyons was charged with murder after his pit bulls disemboweled a boy. In 2014, also in Michigan, a husband and wife were charged with murder after their cane corsos killed a jogger. In August 2014, Alex Jackson was convicted of second-degree murder in Los Angeles County, California after his pit bulls savagely killed Pamela Devitt.
01/12/16: Mauling Victim Identified
News and social media websites have identified the 15-month old girl that was killed by her babysitter's pit bull-mix. Payton Sawyers was viciously attacked on January 6 and airlifted to a hospital in North Carolina in critical condition. She died late Friday after undergoing multiple surgeries. The babysitters, John Underwood and Terra Connell, remain incarcerated. As the result of her death, additional criminal charges are pending, Grayson County sheriff's officials said.
The Archival Record
Payton Sawyers is the 480th American fatally attacked by a pit bull, according to Fatal Pit Bull Attacks - The Archival Record. DogsBite.org began this historical archive in 2011 and keeps it updated. Fatal attacks involving pit bulls date back as far as 1833. Payton is the 287th person killed by a pit bull since the CDC stopped collecting "breed data" for these deaths in 1998. Payton is also the 199th child killed by a pit bull since 1980, when the pit bull problem began to emerge.
01/09/16: Child Succumbed to Injuries
Grayson County, VA - A 15-month old child is dead after a pit bull-mix attacked her while she was under the care of her babysitters. The attack occurred January 6 about 9:30 pm on Penn Ford Road, near Independence. The child's caretakers, Terra Connell and John Underwood, said screams from the baby awakened them. The little girl had been attacked by their pit bull-mix. The dog had the child's head in its mouth. Underwood was bitten in the face trying to free the child.1
The child was flown to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with life threatening injuries. She died late last night.Grayson County Animal Control seized the animal and obtained warrants against Connell and Underwood for possessing a vicious dog. Grayson County investigators executed a search warrant at the residence and discovered illegal drugs and ammunition. On January 7, both Connell and Underwood were arrested for felony child neglect and possessing a vicious dog. Connell was also charged with possession of illegal drugs and possession of ammunition by a felon.
WXII 12 News interviewed Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan. "We believe they were under the influence illegal drugs at the time," Vaughan said. "We took blood samples. They will be sent to our forensics lab to determine what was in their blood. We feel confident they were under the influence of illegal drugs," he said. Both suspects are being held at New River Valley Regional Jail without bond. Their arraignment is scheduled for January 11, 2016 in Grayson County Court.
Recent Facebook Photos
Despite the pair's mugshots and serious charges filed against them, the two recently appeared very happy on the Johnandterra Facebook page, which they share. The page states the two became engaged on October 1, 2015. One photo posted on December 2 was titled, "John and Terra soul mates." There was also a photo of a black dog lying alone on their bed posted the same day. Facing a prison sentence is probably not what the couple had in mind for their future.
07/13/15: Babysitter Jena Wright Found Guilty After Her Pit Bull Brutally Killed a Little Girl...
06/29/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Kills Child Under Babysitter's Watch in Lawton...
07/22/15: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Under Babysitter's Care Killed by Family Pit Bull...
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Photographs of the Year: Young, Self-Appointed Canine 'Experts' in the Wake of Vicious Fatal Pit Bull Maulings
The Media Should Ignore Them. Instead, They Often Flock to Them.
2017 photographs of the year focus on young, self-appointed canine "experts."
DogsBite.org - This year we chose a series of images that portray young, self-appointed canine "experts" who drew attention to themselves due to their lack of understanding canine behavior. All three were part of a Tweet we sent out January 1. Tori Trent who runs Tori's K9 Adventures, a day school and boarding facility in Virginia, is the first image. After Bethany Stephens' two pit bulls mauled her to death then ate her, Trent launched a crusade claiming her pit bulls were innocent.
"These dogs did not do this especially in the manner it was explained and as 1 of the top K9 behavior experts you could ever meet - I want to speak to any news stations and all investigating parties involved by speaking on and explaining K9 behavior," Trent stated on her Facebook page. "Things do not add up due to k9 behavior and instinct," Trent went on, and "I could extremely help this investigation simply speaking on K9 behavior, knowing these dogs, and knowing Bethany!"
Trent's ignorance-driven conspiracy theories were then bolstered by irresponsible media outlets, which spread the deceptions further.We created the central image, which shows Trent's Facebook profile image and parts of her Facebook post claiming her "expertise" after a fatal dog attack involving predation -- an area of canine behavior where she has zero "expertise." Trent's crusade helped fuel a tsunami of misinformation on social media, which negatively impacted the Goochland County Sheriff's Office investigation and forced Sheriff Agnew to give a second press conference to halt the rumors.
Our January 1 Tweet contains the other two images in this series. The first shows employees at Tori's K9 Adventures taking 14 dogs on a pack walk. The second shows employees of Forever Home Rescue Center taking 20 dogs on a pack walk in Virginia Beach. In late May, Forever Home adopted out a pit bull that required a shock collar as a condition. When the adopter removed the collar a few hours later, the dog immediately attacked and killed the adopter's elderly mother.
The two owners of Forever Home, Toni Enright and Jamie Cochran, are also self-appointed canine "experts," who self-describe as "disciples of Cesar Milan" and that his "pack-based philosophies struck a cord." Both are bent on "saving" dangerous dogs from humane euthanasia through their talents of magical rehabilitation. Forever Home also did not disclose to the adopter that the pit bull, which snapped into kill-mode, had a history of bites, aggression and "lack of impulse control."
The images show two sides of the same coin: a self-appointed canine "expert" who disrupted an investigation and another who triggered one.We also added an image of Cesar Milan rollerblading with a pack of 10 leashed dogs. There is no doubt that Milan has inspired a generation of young, self-appointed canine "experts." It is one thing to train puppy bootcamp and obedience (Tori's K9 Adventures) or to slap a shock collar on a dog with a bite history and "lack of impulse control" (Forever Home). It is quite another to be a real expert in canine aggression, unpredictable pit bull aggression or a vicious fatal dog mauling.
Media Needs to Ditch Self-Appointed Experts
There is no such thing as a 24-year old canine "expert." Simple logic says this is not possible. Tori Trent never should have been given a microphone after a horrific fatal pit bull mauling that resulted in post-mortem predation; an area of research that Trent still may not know exists. Yet, very commonly after a fatal pit bull attack, the media looks to young, primarily female, dog trainers and pit bull rescuers as an "expert" source to explain these gruesome, deadly dog attacks.
"As I had said earlier, this was an absolutely gruesome scene. Mrs. Stephens was terribly, terribly injured..." - Goochland County Sheriff James AgnewThe fact is, these types are now hindering serious investigations by law enforcement after fatal dog maulings and are also triggering these investigations by adopting out dangerous dogs they claim they have rehabbed, which go on to seriously injure or kill a human being. The number of "charlatans" among pit bull "rehabbers," trainers and rescuers is too great to count. The media should be extremely cautious from a public safety standpoint in presenting them as "experts."
12/18/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: 22-Year Old Woman Dies in 'Grisly Mauling' by Her Pit Bulls
11/17/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Rescue Pit Bull Attacks, Kills Elderly Woman in Virginia Beach
03/31/17: Newly Adopted Pit Bull-Mix Attacks Little Boy's Face Within Hours of Adoption...
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Delta's Policy Response After a Passenger was Severely Attacked by an Unrestrained Emotional Support Dog
Delta Tightens Reins on Untrained 'Support' Dogs in Cabin
Delta creates stronger screening process for in-cabin service and support animals.
Delta's News Release
Atlanta, GA - Delta Air Lines has introduced "enhanced requirements" for passengers flying with service and emotional support animals. The policy change comes after a support dog repeatedly attacked a passenger in the face just before take off last June. The dog's owner could not stop his dog from attacking the victim, nor did the owner heed to multiple warnings the victim asked before the attack, "Is this dog going to bite me?" In July, we issued a special report about this attack.
Delta's new requirements provide stronger protection for passengers from untrained, uncaged emotional support animals in the aircraft cabin.Our special report examined the widely abused loophole in three federal acts pertaining to service and emotional support animals (ESAs); the unprovoked attack on Marlin Jackson by a large unrestrained support dog just before "push back" of Delta Flight 1430; the case against Delta Air Lines and competing public interests; the inconsistent federal and airline safety policies in regards to service and support animals; and an addendum that examined psychiatric service animals.
Delta's Enhanced Requirements
Delta says the new requirements support their "top priority of ensuring safety for its customers," including passengers with trained service and support animals. Delta states they have seen an 84% increase in "animal incidents" since 2016, including urination, defecation and biting. In 2017, Delta employees reported an increase of aggressive acts from service and support animals, behaviors rarely seen in properly trained and working animals, according to the news release.
Prior to the "enhanced requirements" taking effect March 1, Delta required passengers traveling with ESAs and psychiatric service dogs to have a signed letter from a licensed mental health professional stating the passenger has a mental health-related disability; the passenger needs the animal as an accommodation for air travel or for an activity at the passenger's destination and that the person listed in the letter is under the care of the assessing mental health professional.
Under federal law, airlines must allow support animals for the disabled to travel free in the cabin. Delta is limited in how they can restrict them.There are two new parts to Delta's enhanced requirements. Passengers traveling with an ESA or psychiatric service animal must submit a signed Veterinary Health Form and/or an immunizations record (rabies and distemper vaccinations) current within one year of the travel date and a signed Confirmation of Animal Training form to Delta's Service Animal Support Desk at least 48 hours before travel. Passengers with service animals must also provide proof of immunizations.
- Forms: Required documentation for service animals
- Forms: Required documentation for ESAs and psychiatric service animals
The Confirmation of Animal Training form consists of two questions 1.) I confirm that this animal has been trained to behave in a public setting and takes my direction upon command and 2.) I understand that if my service animal acts inappropriately, that it will be considered not acceptable for air travel and will be denied boarding or will be removed from the aircraft. A similar requirement existed when Jackson was horribly mauled in the face, but required no signed form apparently.
The animal "must be trained to behave properly in public settings as service animals do," according to Delta’s website. "A kennel is not required for emotional support animals if they are fully trained and meet same requirements as a service animal." - Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Delta's website, June 9, 2017Will the New Policy Reduce Fakers?
Hopefully, yes, but how many dog owners falsely claim, "My dog doesn’t bite?" The enhanced requirements do show that Delta will be scrutinizing these cases more closely. "The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel," states John Laughter, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance.
The policy changes show that Delta is creating a greater distinction between customers traveling with trained service and support animals and those with untrained ESAs, which by definition do not require any training. Delta is also requiring ESA owners to sign a pledge. The new measures are "intended to help ensure that those customers traveling with a trained service or support animal will no longer be at risk of untrained pets attacking their working animal," states the release.
"This new policy is our first step in better protecting those who fly with Delta with a more thoughtful screening process." - Delta Air LinesIn addition to Delta's statistics, WebMD published an article in December citing national statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation. "Complaints related to animals for people with 'unspecified' disabilities have surged by 400% in the last 5 years -- increasing from 411 in 2012 to 2,041 in 2016. In contrast, complaints related to service animals for people with visual impairments have remained relatively steady, about 13 each year for U.S. airlines," reports WebMD.1
Groups that Oppose Delta's Changes
To help explain why the widely abused loophole in three federal acts pertaining to service animals and ESAs exists in the first place, one can look to the organizations and people who oppose Delta's modest enhanced requirements -- legal advocacy groups for the disabled and attorneys for the disabled. Such parties believe that requiring "proof" a service animal is in good health -- via a basic vaccination record -- is placing an undue burden on people with legitimate disabilities.
"The solution should involve poorly behaved animals not putting an increased burden on disabled people." - Attorney and advocate Katie Tastrom2The only new requirement Delta placed on people with legitimate disabilities -- chiefly those with service dogs who have full protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act -- was the signed immunization form. When there are competing public interests in heightened security situations, such as flying in cramped quarters in an aircraft, both sides have to give ground. Delta requiring proof of vaccinations is not an "undue burden." This should have been a requirement already!
How to Strike the Right Balance?
With complaints about animals for people with 'unspecified' disabilities having swelled by 400% in the last 5 years, clearly a correction needs to be made. As pointed out by Delta and the WebMD article, people with legitimate disabilities are being negatively impacted by untrained dogs in the cabin and at airports by animals falsely identified as service animals and ESAs, primarily by online for-profit companies that promise letters from mental health professionals so your pet can fly free!
Upon learning about Delta's new requirements, American Airlines said it was also looking into additional requirements, reports Reuters. “Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our passengers and working dogs onboard our aircraft. We agree with Delta’s efforts and will continue to support the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with legitimate needs,” the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier said in a statement.
As stated by Marlin Jackson's attorney last June, striking the right balance also includes his client, who was attacked in the face while trapped in a window seat, and the vast number of passengers who do not fly with service animals. "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," J. Ross Massey stated.
What is important to remember is that the Americans with Disability Act is guided by "reasonable accommodation," not any and all accommodation under any circumstances. As was so eloquently stated on a Service Dog Central forum, "reasonableness loves a compromise." It is reasonable for passengers to have the expectation that an animal will not attack them. It is reasonable for airlines to not have to accommodate unusual service or support animals in the cabin, such as snakes.
Lap-Held Service and Support Dogs
Delta's new policy still allows emotional support dogs to sit on their owner's lap. "The size of the animal must not exceed the “footprint” of the passenger’s seat," states their website. Marlin Jackson, 44, was attacked in the face by a 50-pound support dog seated on its owner's lap. That dog also had proof of a rabies vaccination. A repeat situation is possible if the owner of an untrained 50-pound support dog signs Delta's "Confirmation of Animal Training" form anyway.
Delta is taking the right steps in order to exclude more fake service and support dogs. However, the public is still stuck with the honor system.In our special report last year, we argued that ESAs should be limited in size in airline cabins, particularly in lap-held conditions, because these dogs do not perform a task for persons with disabilities. The "sole function" of an ESA is to "provide comfort" to a person with disabilities. According to FAA regulations (Section 3-3576), lap-held service animals can be "no larger than a lap-held child," which is 25-pounds or less. Delta's new language does not state a weight limit.
Poor Policies Create New Victims
Since Delta's announcement Friday, there have been a slew of media reports, some expressing annoyance at Delta and other airlines due to the high volume of fraudulent service and support animals flying today. This is not limited to aircraft cabins either. One must consider the entire airport experience, as the WebMD article portrays, when Sharon Giovinazzo confronts an owner after its "alleged" service dog rushed up and bit her highly trained working dog at an airport.
Back in November, Brittany Langlois was bitten by an "alleged" emotional support pit bull while standing in the check-in line for JetBlue. What do you think her first question was afterward? "Is the dog vaccinated?" JetBlue told her they could not "legally" give her that information. JetBlue later issued a statement saying the pit bull owner was not a JetBlue passenger after all, thus this was not a JetBlue matter. Brittany Langlois had to undergo post-exposure rabies treatment.
The vicious attack on Marlin Jackson would have resulted in a dangerous dog hearing if it had occurred in a public place. It is unknown if there is "any" adjudication process after an "alleged" service dog or ESA inflicts an unprovoked severe attack on an airline passenger. Up until March 1, not even vaccination proof was required. Airlines and the U.S. Department of Transportation are now on notice that "Fakers plus poor policies" translates into real bite and mauling victims.
A Flying Municipal Shelter?
What is painfully clear in this melee of fake service and support animals traveling in aircraft cabins is that commercial airplanes are literally becoming flying municipal shelters, but have no expertise or operational means for this. Imagine after being bitten or attacked and the airline informs you: "We cannot legally share any information about the owner with you, including whether his dog is vaccinated against a fatal disease." Pets in the cabin pose a bite risk, trained service dogs do not.
Because pets will bite, urinate and defecate, possibly a quarantine section with a row of kennels should be built into airports or even larger airplanes? "Bite investigators" and persons skilled in sheltering and "temperament testing" could operate the area. A dedicated room for dangerous dog hearings would also be needed, along with a judge. That way, the owners of dogs who viciously attack could not rapidly be re-accommodated on a new flight and never heard from again.3
Outrageous ideas are no longer outrageous, given the extraordinary volume of fake service and support animals flying today. In July, the U.S. Department of Transportation will start taking public comments about the "appropriate definition of a service animal" and how to reduce the number of passengers who falsely claim "their pets are service animals." We assume this rulemaking also regards ESAs and psychiatric service animals. We will be there and hope our readers will be too.
2That sounds a lot like, "focus on the bad dog or owner" after an attack, but take no prevention steps to reduce the risk of an attack beforehand. Tastrom's comment also falls flat in addressing the many fakers who are negatively impacting people with legitimate disabilities and their often highly trained working dogs while traveling by air.
3Ronald Kevin Mundy, Jr., the owner of the dog that viciously attacked Jackson, was not charged by local law enforcement. Mundy was re-accommodated on a later Delta flight; his attacking support dog spent that trip in the cargo hold. He was never heard from again. The other mighty can of worms problem with pets in aircraft cabins is the jurisdictional one. The attack occurred in Georgia, Mundy resides in California and Jackson in Alabama. We guess one would call this an "en route" attack, making filing civil lawsuits against dog owners very complicated.
07/13/17: The Friendly Skies Fade After a Delta Passenger is Severely Attacked by an Unrestrained 'Emotional Support Dog'
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Persistent 'Wild Animal' Theory Finally Derailed, Elderly Man was Killed by a Pack of Loose Dogs in 2015
A Flawed Theory and Problematic Bias
Werner Vogt, 85, was killed by a pack of dogs in southwestern Missouri in late 2015.
UPDATE 01/18/18: The owners of a pack of dogs that killed an elderly man have been charged with felony second-degree manslaughter. The dogs viciously attacked 85-year old Werner Vogt on November 12, 2015 as he rode his bicycle in a rural area southeast of Rogersville. Vogt died of his injuries a few weeks later. For months, local authorities mistakenly believed he was attacked by a wild animal, specifically, a wild cat, even though Vogt told them he was attacked by three dogs.
The persistent "wild animal" theory held by the Christian County sheriff delayed obtaining DNA from the suspected dogs -- three boxers who were running loose when the attack occurred -- for six months. By that time, the owner of the dogs, Joseph Brink, had given two of his boxers away. Deputies managed to hunt down both dogs and obtain DNA samples. The results showed a "perfect match" for one of the boxers; the other three could not be ruled out as being involved.
In October 2017, a Christian County grand jury indicted Joseph Brink and his wife, Lindsay Brink, on second-degree manslaughter. "Joseph and Lindsay Brink were aware of the aggressive disposition of the dogs and failed to maintain adequate control of the dogs by allowing them to run at large," the indictment states. In August 2017, the Brinks agreed to a $300,000 settlement after Vogt's son, Vernon Vogt, filed a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the Rogersville couple.
03/14/17: Mauling Death Finally Solved
Christian County, MO - On November 12, 2015 an elderly man was riding his bicycle in the Anchor Hill Ranch subdivision, a rural area southeast of Rogersville in Christian County, when he was viciously attacked by a pack of dogs. Werner Vogt, 85-years old, died of his severe injuries while hospitalized on December 4. At that time, local authorities mistakenly believed he was attacked by a wild animal, specifically, a wild cat, even though Vogt told them he was attacked by three dogs.
On March 12, 2017 the Springfield News-Leader published two articles detailing parts of the investigation into Vogt's mauling death after filing a Sunshine Law request in February seeking the sheriff's investigative report. The News-Leader articles, in part, help explain the persistent "wild animal" theory held by local authorities, despite the fact that canines kill an American about every 11 days in the U.S., a rate about 14 times more frequently than bears and cougars combined.
"I could speculate that it could be a bear or a mountain lion … Like I said, I have a hard time believing it was dogs." - Sheriff Brad Cole, November 13, 2015From the get-go, Sheriff Cole declined to believe the attackers were dogs. No DNA samples from dogs were taken until months after the attack. When they were finally collected -- primarily in May 2016 -- and the results became known, they matched a group of boxers owned by Joseph Brink who lives near the attack site. A Christian County sheriff's deputy interviewed Brink on the day of the attack. Brink told the deputy that three of his boxers were loose at the time of the attack.
No DNA samples were taken from Brink's dogs at that time. By the time they are, six months later, Brink had gotten rid of two of his boxers. The moral of this story is that local officials "lucked out royally" by locating the two boxers that Brink had given away. One of which had a "perfect match" to the saliva found on Vogt's clothing. The other moral is the unwillingness for local officials, at least initially, to believe that canines can and do inflict massive, gaping and horrific injuries.
Fatal dog attacks are generally rare, however in some U.S. counties they are not rare and occur year-after-year like clockwork. The situation of a rural county experiencing a fatal dog attack for the first time is a difficult one -- there is a lack of experience and protocol. However, after the death of Vogt, one sees a "persistent" belief by authorities that a wild animal was to blame, because a dog simply could not be. Therefore hours and hours of precious investigation time was wasted.
Our email correspondence with Sheriff Bob Cole shows that nearly three months after the attack, he still believed a wild cat was the culprit.Though the News-Leader paints a more rose-colored version of the investigation, the fact is a deputy examined the dogs that killed Vogt on the day of the attack, but failed to gather DNA at that time. Only months later -- likely after a forensics lab rejected the "wild animal" theory -- did they fully consider that dogs could be the culprit.1 We are thrilled that their investigation eventually prevailed. We hope other jurisdictions do not make this same erroneous presumption.
21st Century America
Despite the rarity of fatal dog attacks, numerous medical studies and images of horrific dog attack injuries can be found online. On Sunday, after a single search for "characteristics of fatal pack attacks," we located a 2012 study that shows how law enforcement can make "erroneous conclusions about the source of the bites." The study examines how local authorities mistook a dog pack attack for a cougar attack: An unusual case of predation: dog pack or cougar attack?2
Unless characteristics of a wild animal attack are evident at the scene -- and apparently there were not in this case, which is why the Missouri Department of Conservation rejected analyzing the DNA until canines were ruled out -- the default assumption for investigators must be dogs. This is especially true when the victim is telling you dogs attacked him. A pack of dogs can rip out an entire human chest cavity and more. Pack attack predation is real, personal biases are flawed.
Below we examine the timeline after the November 12 attack by interspersing information published just after the attack and new information provided by the News-Leader.
Was it a Cougar or a Canine Pack Attack?
11/12/2015 Just after the attack, Vogt is conscious briefly and tells officials and family members that he was attacked by dogs while lying critically injured on the side of Northwoods Road.
11/13/2015 As early as November 13, Sheriff Brad Cole states that evidence is being examined in a lab. "We’ve taken, collected some of his clothing that he had on, which we are positive does have some kind of animal DNA on it and one with saliva that I’m sure when it gets to the lab, actually it’s already at the lab…" The Missouri Department of Conservation was the party initially assigned to analyze the DNA. This department only deals with wildlife, not domesticated dogs.
11/17/2015: Vogt regains consciousness after multiple surgeries and states that he was attacked by a pack of dogs. The sheriff's department states at this time they were taking Vogt's words seriously. "Medical personnel who were talking to our deputy at the time stated they didn't believe it was a dog … But at this point we are taking what this gentleman has told us as what happened, that it was a pack of dogs," - Lt. Jeff Lofton of the Christian County Sheriff's Department.
11/17/2015: The Missouri Department of Conservation sent the samples back to the sheriff's office asking that it first be cleared of being dog-related, Lt. Jeff Lofton explains. The sheriff's office then looked to the Fish and Wildlife Service, hoping they would test the samples. Meanwhile, Jake Patterson, Vogt's grandson, visits him in the hospital and tells KY3.com, "He's kinda rough on his eyesight, but he's not stupid. It wasn't a bear, it wasn't a mountain lion, it was three dogs."3
12/08/15: The News-Leader reports that Vogt died a few days earlier. His daughter-in-law Noel Vogt states, he "died three times that day" while being treated for his injuries. Sheriff Cole states that a "forensic review" of photographs of Vogt's numerous injuries is being conducted by a wildlife expert in Florida. "His injuries were pretty horrific. I've worked many dog bites in the last 23 years but I've not seen anything like this." Sheriff Cole was previously the county coroner as well.
12/08/15: The Missouri Department of Conservation softens its position, "If we've got some indication it was wildlife related, possibly we could do a DNA test." - Larry Yamnitz, MDC protection division chief. So, nearly one month after the vicious attack, there is no indication -- no evidence presented -- that a wild animal was involved. By the next day, December 9, the title of a local news article is, "Investigators: Mystery animal kills 85-year-old cyclist in Missouri."
12/13/15: In an interview with KY3.com, Vogt's family begs dog owners in the community to come forward. "If you suspect your dog is violent, then you need to come forward." -- Noel Vogt. At this time, one full one month after the attack, Sheriff Cole states, "We're actively seeking these dogs out." He also brushes off the dogs belonging to Brink, "There's been a couple of calls of concern for a couple dogs that belong to a resident in that area, but short of that, nothing else."4
Notes from the examination of the dogs includes that Bernier opened and inspected each mouth -- none of the dogs tried to bite or became aggressive. "I found no signs of blood or human flesh in the mouth of any animal and no signs of fighting or blood on the coats, paws or pads of any of the animals," Bernier wrote. He also noted that none of the dogs appeared to have been recently washed. He found no indication Brink was trying to hide anything.
12/15/15: Shawn Miles tells KSPR that while he and his son were bicycling in Anchor Hill Ranch close to where Vogt was attacked, they were chased by three dogs. "When I seen it on TV, I knew it. You put two and two together and you figure it out pretty quick,” Miles said. Miles fired at the three dogs with his 9 mm and the dogs left them alone. No description of the three dogs that chased Miles and his son (coloring, height or otherwise) were given in the KSPR article.5
01/20/16: DogsBite.org writes to Sheriff Brad Cole to see if any determination had been made by the expert in Florida about the type of animal that attacked Vogt. At this point, it has been over 5 weeks since the photographic information -- images of Vogt's severe injuries -- had been sent to a wildlife expert to conduct a "forensic review." Sheriff Cole responds to our email, "We are still awaiting the lab results from the DNA samples that were submitted to the University of Florida."
02/05/16: DogsBite.org writes to the sheriff's office again while preparing our annual U.S. dog bite fatality statistics. At this stage, no release date had been set -- we were awaiting confirmation that dogs were the culprits. Up until this point, we had included Vogt, because fatal attacks by bears and cougars are so rare. Sheriff Cole replies to our email that the attacker was "some type of large cat." And that, "Further testing is being completed to determine the species of cat."
Nearly 3 months after the attack, the sheriff's office was not in anyway operating on the assumption that dogs were involved in Vogt's death.UNDATED: Though no date is provided in the News-Leader March 2017 report, it states that at some point during the investigation, Sgt. Michael Elliott followed up on a tip about a Great Pyrenees that had attacked and bitten a woman's daughter while she and another girl were riding their bikes. "Elliott tracked down the Great Pyrenees dogs and took DNA saliva samples from each," states the News-Leader. Elliott also collected DNA samples from the Vogt family dog.
05/2016: In May 2016, Elliott followed up on Bernie's initial report of meeting with Joseph Brink on the day of the attack. He asked permission to take DNA samples of his four boxers. This is when Elliott learns that Brink gave two of his dogs away after the attack. Brink tells Elliott, as he had Bernie, that three of his dogs were running loose at the time of the attack. Brink tells him, "he got rid of Chubs and Otto" after the attack, likely believing they were responsible, Elliott wrote.
06/2016: In June 2016, samples of all of DNA collected were shipped to a forensic lab in Florida. At some point later (date not stated in News-Leader article), Forensic DNA analyst Ginger Clark found a "perfect match" for Otto. Based on her DNA findings, Brink's three other boxers could not be ruled out as being involved. When contacted by the News-Leader on March 3, Clark said none of the other DNA samples from other dogs tested matched the saliva found on Vogt's clothing.
03/12/17: Nine months later, the News-Leader releases two articles detailing aspects of the Christian County Sheriff's Office investigation after filing a Sunshine Law request in mid-February seeking the sheriff's investigative report. The News-Leader report, in part, helps explain the persistent "wild animal" theory, despite the fact that canines kill an American about every 11 days in the U.S., a rate about 14 times more frequently than bears and mountain lions combined.
Bubba (formerly named Otto) -- whose DNA was a "perfect match" -- now lives at a home in rural Halfway with an unfenced yard. The new owner, Olen Asby, allows Bubba to run unleashed outside his home with the family's large outdoor dog. This is a recipe for another major disaster.
2We did review the whole study (which is behind a paywall). If you would like a copy, please just email us. We guarantee you that when you see the injury photographs in this study, you will presume a wild animal inflicted these horrific injuries. Herein lies the problematic bias and a lack of understanding dog pack attack predation.
3This article is no longer online. Drew Douglas, "Investigation into animal attack continues," KY3.com, November 18, 2015 (www.ky3.com)
4This article is no longer online. Drew Douglas, "Family seeks closure after animal attack kills 85-year-old," KY3.com, December 13, 2015 (www.ky3.com)
5This article is no longer online. Jonathan Wahl, "Christian County man chased by dogs thinks it might be connected to November animal attack," KSPR.com, December 15, 2015 (www.kspr.com)
08/23/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Man Killed by Dogs in Jacksonville, Florida
03/25/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Woman Dies After Pack Attack In Thurston County
07/24/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Pack of Dogs Kill Woman in Wagoner County, Oklahoma
Dog Pack Attack: Hunting Humans, by Avis, Simon P. M.D. F.R.C.P.C, The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Volume 20(3), September 1999, pp 243-246.
Attacks by Packs of Dogs Involving Predation on Human Beings, by Borchelt PL, Lockwood R, Beck AM, and Voith VL, Public Health Reports, 98:57-66, 1983.
Monday, January 15, 2018
Rylee Marie Dodge, 3, was killed by her family's new pit bull in Duncan, Oklahoma.
Father Speaks Out
UPDATE 01/15/18: In a heartbreaking story, Jason Dodge, whose daughter was killed Sunday by a family pit bull, talks about the newly acquired dog. Dodge got the approximately 1-year old pit bull from a friend who said she would take the dog to the pound if Dodge did not take it -- red flag number one. Dodge loved animals and knew "what would happen to a pit bull" at a pound -- red flag number two. Someone else's misfortune and guilt led to a decision that cost his child's life.
There is no doubt that pit bull propaganda played a large role as well, generously dished out by animal welfare groups, celebrities like Cesar Milan, and the pit bull lobby. From the misunderstood Nanny Dog myth to "It's all how you raise 'em," then blanketing pit bulls in victimization by calling them unfairly discriminated against. No one ever told Dodge these are "zero margin of error" dogs that kill a person in the U.S. about every 12 days and initiate LifeFlights daily across the country.
"I got [the dog] from a friend. I had it five days. I was very cautious about it, because I don't just bring around dogs into my home. It was over a year, I was trying to do a good thing, because she was going to take it to the pound if I didn't, and I love animals. So, I wanted to take it into my house because I know what would happen to a pit bull, you know.Dodge also talked about his mother who intervened in the attack. "She actually pulled her arm out of its socket by holding the dog down so long, until I got home. She had to check herself into the hospital because her arm was so messed up from holding the dog down too long," Dodge said. "She couldn't breath. She had no stamina whatsoever. She couldn't even get up," he said. "She had the dog in a headlock laying on the back of it. The dog was trying to get out from under her."
I took my son over there. The dog didn't attack him. It loved him, gave him a hug and licked him on the face and everything. Brought him here and my son come outside all day long and played with him. He didn't do nothing to him. Then I bring my daughter here two days prior to that and this happened." - Jason Dodge
01/15/18: Dog Mauling Victim Identified
A 3-year old girl killed by a family dog has been identified as Rylee Dodge. Her father, Jason Dodge, said the dog is a pit bull that he had only taken in five days earlier from a friend. In an interview with KFOR, Dodge said he left his daughter at home Sunday with Rylee's grandmother. Dodge had only been away for about 20 minutes when he received a call that Rylee had been attacked. Dodge said Rylee opened up the front door to play with the dog and it attacked her.
Police continue to investigate what led up to the deadly attack. There are now conflicting reports about how long the family owned the pit bull, five days versus two weeks. Police also continue to describe the dog as a "bulldog mixed-breed," even though the dog's owner states it is a pit bull, as do other family relatives. Rylee's body was taken to the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's Office where they will perform an autopsy. The family's attacking dog will undergo a necropsy.
Finally, Dodge also provided photos of his dog, named Remington, to KSWO. Dodge told reporter Re'Chelle Turner that Remington is a "fully blooded pit bull," as the photo mainly indicates, erasing further breed misidentification rumors. This video has so far only been published to the KSWO Facebook page. We expect to see it incorporated into their main news website sometime later today. Meanwhile, Turner will be interviewing other family members and neighbors for reactions.
01/14/18: New Family Dog Kills Child
Duncan, OK - Police confirm a child died after being attacked by a family dog. Officers responded to a dog bite report at a home near F Street at 3:19 pm Sunday, Duncan Police Lt. John Byers said. The child was taken to a hospital, but did not survive. When officers arrived at the scene, the medium sized "mixed-breed" dog fled. When the dog was located it lunged at an officer and was shot to death. The family dog will be sent to a veterinarian to determine the breed, Byers said.
"When they arrived on the scene the young juvenile female had been attacked by a dog and the dog was still in the area,” Byers told The Duncan Banner. The canine was "later located by officers and that dog was put down by the officers," he said. "We are currently still investigating all of the circumstances around it right now," Byers said. More details will be released when the information becomes available, Byers said. Authorities did not release the mauling victim's age or identity.
Late Evening Updates
The Lawton Constitution published more details in a piece that will run in full in their print daily tomorrow. The mauling victim is only 3-years old. The deadly attack occurred in the 600 block of North F Street. Officers arrived at the scene and saw the dog had drug the child into the yard and was still actively attacking the child, Police Chief Dan Ford said. "Officers got the dog off the girl and dispatched the dog. They tried to do CPR on the girl but she didn't make it," Ford said.
In 2015, in nearby Lawton, 3-year old Jordan Collins-Tyson was killed by a pit bull while under the care of his babysitter. He was in the backyard of his great-grandmother's home with two dogs when he was attacked. According to police, the babysitter was watching the boy through a window from inside the home. When she glanced away then back, he was on the ground. The pit bull latched onto Jordan's throat, killing him. Police said the boy had spent time with the dog before.
Unverified comments by a relative on the KSWO-TV Facebook thread state the dog was a pit bull that a male individual had owned for a few weeks. Commenter, last name Robinson, states, "The little girl who passed is my daughter's half sister. Her family needs lots of prayers. She was just trying to play with the dog and it attacked her. It was not a stray like everyone is saying." Robinson states the dog's owner, "got it from some girl who was homeless and he gave the dog a home."1
11/04/17: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Oklahoma Man Dies After Vicious Attack by Five Pit Bulls
05/10/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman and Dog Killed by Two Pit Bulls While Walking...
06/29/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Kills Child Under Babysitter's Watch in Lawton...
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Photographs from Social Media Have Quadrupled Since 2013
Photographs of six fatally attacking dogs in 2017 obtained from multiple sources.
Jump down to view all 2017 breed identification photographs or read our analysis first.
DogsBite.org - In 2014, we began the tradition of publishing breed identification photographs of fatally attacking dogs when available through news reports, social media websites and law enforcement agencies. Of the 39 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities recorded in 2017, 56% (22) had identification photographs, down from the high of 72% last year. Pit bulls and their mixes represent 82% (18) of all breed identification photographs collected in 2017, up from 76% last year.
Of the 22 cases with identification photographs, 73% (16) were captured by news media, up from 62% last year and 59% (13) were located on social media pages of the dog's owner or family members, over four times greater than in 2013. Animal control departments supplied 18% (4) of all photographs in 2017. Departments in California, Ohio, Georgia, Texas and Florida allowed news media to photograph the dogs while quarantined in 6 cases, raising that number from 18% to 45%.
Of all cases with photographs, DogsBite.org located 18% (4) on social media that were otherwise unpublished; each case involved pit bulls.In 2017, 73% (16) of all collected identification photographs were family dogs. Pit bulls and their mixes perpetrated 75% (12) of these family member and household deaths, including killing three primary caretakers. No other dog breed with an identification image inflicted an owner death in 2017. The case of Carol Harris, who was rehabbing "an orphaned akita" to make it "adoptable" when the dog killed her, is similar, but Harris did not appear to be the akita's primary caretaker.
Of all cases with breed identification photographs, 91% (20) involved dogs taken into custody and quarantined and 14% (3) were shot and killed at the scene. Images of the shot dogs were located on social media pages of their owners, and in one mauling death, the NextDoor app. Of all 39 recorded dog bite fatalities in 2017, 15% (6) involved rescued or rehomed dogs. Identification photographs from social media and adoption websites captured 83% (5) of these rescue dogs.
Cases Lacking Photographs
Of the 17 cases that lacked an identification photograph, 65% (11) involved pit bulls and nearly half of all cases 47% (8) involved dogs shot to death at the scene. Pit bulls represent 88% (7) of the dogs shot and killed, including one that died in a "hail of police gunfire" after the horrific mauling death of Javien Candelario. Another shot to death pit bull case lacking a photograph involved Kentucky State Police having surveillance footage capturing the entire fatal dog attack.1
Of the 9 remaining quarantine cases, one lacked any media coverage, the death of 41-year old Grace Walks. In another case, also involving a pit bull, the shelter refused to allow news media to photograph the dogs. 35% (6) of all cases lacking an identification photograph did not involve pit bulls. If one adds the 7 shot pit bull cases and the 2 pit bull quarantine cases, that is 9 pit bull mauling deaths where an identification photograph had slim chances of ever becoming public.
Jump down to view all 2017 breed identification photographs or continue reading our analysis.
Breed Misidentification Wars
In 2017, there were two breed misidentification wars; both involved confusion. After three dogs killed a 6-year old boy and seriously injured a 5-year old girl while walking to a school bus stop in Atlanta, initial reports identified two of the dogs as a pit bull and pit bull-mix. Later reports revised the animals to a "pit bull and border collie." By this time, however, both pit bulls had already been photographed by the media and belonged to the same owner who had been taken into custody.
Animal control seized other loose dogs in the area, one was a border collie. To this day, there is no verification it was involved in the attack.The other misidentification case was primarily due to law enforcement and the media being unfamiliar with XXL pit bull "designer" breeds. After the horrific mauling death of Cecille Short in Oklahoma City, and the accompanying image of the dogs, first located on the NextDoor app, the media simply began calling the dog a "large white dog." That evaporated fairly quickly once they learned about XXL pit bulls and the poor breeding practices of "designer" XXL bully breeders.
Finally, 2017 marked a year when we entered into territory that is more corrosive than breed misidentification wars. After a young woman who advocated for pit bulls was killed and eaten by her own two pit bulls, zealots on social media responded with denial and conspiracy theories, just like they did after the death of pit bull advocate Darla Napora in 2011. People claimed Bethany Stephens' pit bulls were innocent; she was instead "murdered" or "attacked by a wild animal."
The conspiracy theories, which spread like wildfire on social media, and were further fueled by media outlets that published them, were so destructive the Goochland County Sheriff's Office had to give a second press conference in order to stop to them. This is the part of the conference that you should always remember: "It's been difficult and I am afraid that even after releasing these additional facts as we have tonight, it's not going to nullify some of these people," the sheriff said.
Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew is exactly correct. Nothing will nullify pit bull zealots who willfully ignore the truth. In the face of a devastating mauling death, they lie to themselves, lie to their friends, lie to the public on social media and vilify the messenger. Our collection of over 400 fatal dog attacks with thousands of citations along with our breed identification reports are not meant for them. They are meant for people who are truly investigating this public safety issue.
More photos of larger sizes are often available at the indicated full blog post link for each victim. Also, jump down to learn how we track the photograph sources for each fatal dog attack case.
2017 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs
Post Publication Identification Photographs
Breed identification photographs discovered after the publication of this post on January 11, 2018. These photographs are not included in our overall analysis; they were unavailable at that time.
How We Track Photograph Sources
We track the identification photograph's original source. There also may be multiple images in one case, so multiple sources may be attributed to a single case. For instance, after the death of Paris Adams, the news media shot original images, there were social media images and the shelter provided a photograph. Also, the news media can be an overlapping (dual) category because they often republish images provided by law enforcement that the public otherwise would not see.
What is easy to see in our tracking and analysis is the rising number of identification photographs located on social media, from only 16% (3) of all collected images in 2013 to 59% (13) in 2017. It is also easy to see the remarkably low number of law enforcement and shelters that release identification photographs after a fatal dog attack. They supplied 18% (4) of the 22 cases with identification images and just 14% (4) of the 29 quarantine cases after a dog bite fatality in 2017.
Photograph Tracking Categories
- News media supplied photograph and/or an important republished photograph
- Social media website supplied identification photograph
- Law enforcement or animal control department supplied photograph
- Animal control department allowed news media to take photographs
- Canines shot to death at the scene of a fatal dog attack
- Canines taken into quarantine after a fatal dog attack
2The seized pit bull photographs are included because a backyard pit bull breeder, who had a "yard of chained pit bulls," was associated to the home at 345 Middle Street and two of the three pit bulls seized by Dayton and county authorities were clearly identifiable on his personal Facebook page.
3We could not get a front view. But as you can see, the dog is recognizable as a rottweiler even from this view.
01/09/17: 2016 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/14/16: 2015 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence'...
01/07/15: 2014 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/03/14: 2013 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.