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Saturday, March 18, 2017
Newly Adopted Pit Bull-Mix Attacks Little Boy's Face Within Hours of Adoption; Child Airlifted to Iowa Trauma Hospital
Dog Came to Iowa Via a "Rescue Transport" from Louisiana
Images of Lucas before and after the dog attack from his fundraising page.
Horrific Facial Attack
Clinton, IA - On Friday we learned about a devastating dog attack. 15-month old Lucas Harrison was attacked in the face by a newly adopted dog. He was airlifted to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital where he is being treated. "A large part of his gum/bone including permanent teeth were ripped out, most of his nose cartilage was destroyed, and he will have lifelong damage," his fundraising page states. In two days, donations have already exceeded $115,000.
"While playing with a friend's newly adopted dog," Lucas was "suddenly attacked, with the dog biting off a large portion" of his face. - GoFundMe pageThrough the online victims' advocacy network, we were able to reach a reliable source and verify the attacking dog and the shelter that adopted it out. On March 15, the day of the attack, the Clinton Humane Society adopted out a pit bull-mix named Emmet. Less than two hours later, the dog violently attacked Lucas in the face. Through public Facebook pages, we learned late Friday that Emmet was formerly a death row dog, shipped in from Louisiana at the end of February.
Transporting Death Row Dogs Across State Lines
Across the country there are "rescue transports," which are primarily driven by volunteers. The purpose is to save dogs on death row by transporting them (known as "freedom rides")1 to other rescues and shelters across the country, in hopes the dogs can find an adopter in that location. Dogs wind up on death row for two central reasons: They are dangerous dogs or the shelter's limited space forces euthanasia. The latter often refers to shelters in the Southern United States.
In mid-October 2016, Emmet, a male unneutered black and white pit bull-mix came into the New Iberia Parish Animal Shelter (IPAC) in Louisiana. The dog lingered in the shelter unwanted for 4.5 months. Though the shelter's Facebook support page states it is not a "government page," shelter staff are also Admins. Friday, while reviewing Emmet's October adoption listing, one of the Page's Admins deleted Emmet's listing. However, we had already retained a full copy of the listing.
Animals of IPAC advertised Emmet as a "great dog with a great temperament." On Saturday, IPAC also deleted the video of Emmet, but we retained a copy of that Friday too. On January 30, 2017, Animals of IPAC announced on the adoption listing that Emmet "will be euthanized tomorrow morning, no exceptions. The shelter is FULL." Then the rallying starts to "save Emmet." By February 14, $300 in pledges had been raised to "save Emmet." On February 22, Animals of IPAC states on the post, "Emmet got approved for transport. Please call in your $50 pledge" now.
NOLA Freedom Transport (New Orleans)
On February 25, Karen Anderson, who operates NOLA Freedom Transport, posted to her personal Facebook page that she is ready to transport 45 dogs from Louisiana to Missouri and Iowa. Emmet is seen on the second row, fifth dog. One can also see a zoomed in photo left in a comment on the same post. The next day, a similar post appears on the NOLA Freedom Transport Facebook page that encourages donations to make the out-of-state transport possible.
After reaching the fundraising goal on February 26, Anderson announces on her personal page, "We leave TOMORROW." NOLA Freedom Transport has no website and is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Shortly thereafter, the Clinton Humane Society (CHS) receives the dogs. "Thank you to our great friends at New Orleans Freedom Transport for driving across the states, through the rain, hail, and tornado warning to get these dogs to us safe and sound," states their post.
Clinton Humane Society (Clinton, Iowa)
The Clinton Humane Society takes in 22 dogs transported from Louisiana, one of them being Emmet. The CHS adoption listing shows a different age for Emmet than the IPAC Animal Shelter, mislabels the dog a "Boxer/Mix" and shows an intake date of 2/27/17. A local Clinton family adopts the dog on March 15 and in under two hours, Emmet tears off the face of a 15-month old boy. This is how the transport system works. Our only surprise is that CHS did not rename the dog.
The Clinton Humane Society website states multiple times that they administer a "nationally recognized temperament test" before dogs are considered for adoption. CHS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has no legal jurisdiction over animal cruelty investigations or ordinance enforcement, according to their website. CHS states that it is an "open admittance" shelter, but has a strict waiting list for local owner surrenders and accepts animals from "out-of-state" at their choosing.
The "nationally recognized temperament test" is called the Behavior Assessment and Reactivity Checklist (BARC Checklist). You can see a copy of the guidelines here. There is no mention of testing for children or cats in the checklist. No temperament assessment test -- "state-of-the art" or "nationally recognized" or otherwise -- measures unpredictable aggression. So both descriptions of these assessment tests are misleading and inaccurate to the public and potential adopters.
"There is no pass or fail for BARC. It is designed to be used as an assessment tool to best determine suitable homes," states its creators.Call-To-Action for the Public
Last September, after examining 34 behavior records of dogs at a county shelter in California, many rife with aggression issues, we issued a Call-To-Action. At that time, animal behaviorist and author Alexandra Semyonova also provided an analysis and a special report to help the public understand the current state of shelter assessment tests: Behavior Testing Shelter Dogs -- A Summary of Where We Are Now. We again encourage readers to closely review her summary.
In some cases, shelters have an internal policy, "If They Don't Ask, Don't Tell" regarding sharing information about the dog's history with potential adopters. As an adopter you have the right to ask for all uncensored behavioral and medical files prior to adopting a dog. If for some reason the shelter hesitates at your request, or worse, refuses it, exit the facility right away. In the case of Lucas, we have no information about what transpired between CHS and Emmet's adopter.
When Adopting From a Shelter
- Do your research
- Go in with questions
- Bring a trainer with you to the shelter to evaluate for signs of aggression
- Request all behavior records for the dog
- Request all medical records for the dog
- Request all "outcomes" for the dog (if the dog was returned to shelter)
09/20/16: What's Behind the Click and Bait Web Advertisements of Aggressive Shelter Dogs...
04/29/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Rehomed by Humane Society Kills Newborn Baby
08/06/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Recently Adopted Out Pit Bull Kills 6-Year Old Boy in North...
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
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.
Case 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 Werner told them he was attacked by 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, 6-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 3 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.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Young Man Airlifted with Life-Threatening Injuries After Vicious Pit Bull Mauling in Graves County, Kentucky
Pit Bull Owner Found Guilty of Harboring a Vicious Dog
Mitchell Slayden was attacked by two pit bulls on July 2 in Farmington, Kentucky.
Bouland Found Guilty
UPDATE 03/12/17: Multiple events have occurred since we last published about this severe attack. Last July, 22-year old Mitchelle Slayden was riding his bicycle when he entered the driveway of a home belonging to 27-year old Chris Bouland. Mitchell was looking for his cousin, who formerly lived at the home. When Mitchell entered the driveway, he was confronted by Bouland's two pit bulls. When he tried to leave the driveway, the pit bulls viciously attacked him.
Mitchell suffered life-threatening injuries. He was immediately airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.Four months after the attack, a judge released the pit bulls back to Bouland and set a date to stand trial for harboring a vicious animal. In early January 2017, less than two months later, Graves County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a neighbor dispute and arrested Bouland on contempt of court charges. Bouland had been ordered to keep his dogs out of Graves County, but he failed to comply. In the dispute, one of his pit bulls charged a neighbor and ended up shot.
Upon further investigation on Thursday, the sheriff’s office and the Graves County Attorney’s Office determined that the dog that was shot by the neighbor was, in fact, one of the dogs that was involved in the attack of Mitchell Slayden last summer. The other dog that was involved in the attack was also on the property on KY 129.On Sunday, The Paducha Sun reported that a jury found Bouland guilty of harboring a vicious animal, but did not sentence him to any jail time. Bouland still must contend with the contempt of court charge, as well as another pending trial -- his legal troubles are not over. The worst news, but predictable, is that both of Boulands pit bulls are still alive; he refused to forfeit them. The dogs remain at the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter until court proceedings are complete.
With both dogs being in Graves County, Bouland violated the orders set by the Graves County District Court. Bouland was arrested Thursday night on a contempt of court charge. He was also arrested on a separate warrant for bail jumping. - Associated Press, Jan 6, 2017
When we last wrote about this case, we called Bouland "just another 'exhausted cliché' owner of a dangerous pit bull." His initial and ongoing actions prove us right over and over again. Bouland not only lied to the court and judge, he refuses to responsibly enclose his two pit bulls anywhere, even after being charged with harboring a vicious animal. Despite these facts and his recent conviction, Bouland is still slated to get his dogs back as long as he meets the court's conditions for release.
07/14/16: 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
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Valentine Herrera, 76, did not survive his injuries from the violent pit bull attack.
Victim Did Not Survive
Los Angeles, CA - A 76-year old man critically injured by two pit bulls in early February has died, according to family members. Valentine Herrera and his small dog were savagely attacked by the pit bulls on February 2 while walking in Lincoln Heights. The attack occurred about 6:00 pm on the 2600 block of North Lincoln Park Avenue. His pomeranian, named Dodger, was killed in the attack. Herrera was rushed to the hospital and underwent brain surgery, family members said.
At the time of the vicious attack, Herrera was suffering health difficulties, including a heart condition and being on dialysis. In November, he nearly died of a heart attack. After the mauling, his son, Luis Herrera, said his father briefly died during the heart attack. "I lost him for 32 minutes -- he died for 32 minutes -- and then came back," Luis said. "He was living way better than before, and now this happened." Herrera's family must now go through this terrible pain all over again.
Luis described his father as a strong, loving man and said it is very difficult to see him struggling again for his life." - Luis Herrera, the victim's sonThe pair of male pit bulls first attacked Dodger, shredding the small dog to pieces. When Herrera intervened, the pit bulls knocked him down and began tearing into his flesh. Neighbor Frank Carrasco witnessed the vicious attack. "I saw these two pit bulls pulling something apart. I thought it was a piece of material," he said. Carrasco said the owner of the pit bulls offered no apology to the victim nor did he attempt to help the elderly man sprawled on the ground and bleeding.
The same two pit bulls had killed another neighborhood dog just 4-days before attacking Herrera. Stephanie Grezelle said the pit bulls killed her dog, named Tulula right in front of her two young children, reports CBS Los Angeles. "They watched their dog get mauled in a puddle of blood,” Grizelle said. "We rushed her to the hospital. We tried to save her. Later that evening, she stopped breathing. There was too much damage, and she died." She said Tulula never stood a chance.
Dangerous Dog Hearing
A dangerous dog hearing was held Wednesday. CBS Los Angeles reports the outcome could lead to criminal charges against the owners of the pit bulls. Herrera's family members and witnesses testified at the hearing, reliving the horrific attack. The pit bulls' owners testified as well, defending themselves after their dogs brutally attacked a man and killed at least two pet dogs in less than a 1-week period. Los Angeles Animal Services is expected to issue a final decision within 30 days.
What appears to be the primary issue about the potential criminal charges of this case is how the dogs escaped the owners' property. We've highlighted portions of the California felony dog attack statute, which may be at play (§ 399. Mischievous animal causing death or serious bodily injury; negligence of owner or person having custody or control; punishment). The highlights indicate the elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a felony conviction.
"(a) If any person owning or having custody or control of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully suffers it to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, and the animal, while so at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, kills any human being..." -- Knowledge of propensities and failing to keep the dogs without ordinary care. The pit bull owner's actions after the attack may be a factor too. Witnesses said the owner did not attempt to help Herrera at all.
09/10/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Man, Injure Woman in North Shore, California 11/04/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Modesto Man, Critically Injure Another
11/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Antelope Valley Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bulls
Monday, February 27, 2017
Coroner Releases Name
Quincy, IL - A 21-year old man died after a dog attack early Sunday morning. Adams County Coroner Jim Keller identified the victim as Jamie Owsley of Quincy. Police said that a death investigation was underway. Police said they received a call from the emergency room about a person with a dog bite. The attack occurred at 3:26 am Sunday morning at 1005 Jersey Street, inside the two-story brick home. A Beware of Dog sticker was adhered above the front door.
No other details will be released until the final autopsy results, which could take up to 2-weeks.
12/07/11: 2011 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies Following Attack by Pet Pit Bull Last Month
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Fatal Dog Attack Statistics
DogsBite.org recorded 31 fatal dog attacks in 2016. Pit bulls contributed to 71% (22) of these deaths, just over 7 times more than the next closest dog breed. The combination of pit bulls, their close cousins, American bulldogs (2), and rottweilers (2) contributed to 84% (26) of all dog bite-related fatalities. The last year the CDC collected "breed" data about fatal human dog attacks was 1998, nearly two decades ago. Since this time, pit bulls have killed over 300 U.S. citizens.
- 31 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities occurred in 2016. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 900 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 71% (22) of these deaths. Pit bulls make up about 6% of the total U.S. dog population.
- Together, pit bulls (22) and rottweilers (2), the second most lethal dog breed, accounted for 77% of the total recorded deaths in 2016. This same combination also accounted for 76% of all fatal attacks during the 12-year period of 2005 to 2016.
- The breakdown between these two breeds is substantial over this 12-year period. From 2005 to 2016, pit bulls killed 254 Americans, about one citizen every 17 days, versus rottweilers, which killed 43, about one citizen every 102 days.
- See full report: 2016 U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Statistics - DogsBite.org
- News release: Nonprofit Releases 2016 Dog Bite Fatality Statistics and Trends from 12-Year Dog Bite Fatality Data Set (2005 to 2016)
Discussion NotesDogsBite.org - 2016 marked a decrease in U.S. dog bite fatalities, which do vary from year to year, but overall have been on an upward trend since 2009. This year, we recorded 31 total deaths. There may have been more. The election dominated the media in 2016. As one can see from our 12-year chart, there was a significant dip in 2008, which was also the change of an administration. What remained true in 2016 was the high rate of pit bull fatalities, weighing in at 71% of all deaths.
This 12-year period shows that deaths inflicted by pit bulls, 254, now exceeds the total number of deaths by all dog breeds in the 8-year period of 2005 to 2012. It also exceeds the number of deaths (238) analyzed in the government's benchmark 20-year study from 1979 to 1998 when breed data was known. When we began charting combined year fatality statistics in 2011, pit bulls were inflicting 58% of all deadly attacks. Five years later, pit bulls have reached 65%.
2016 Annual Trends
In 2016, 42% (13) of all dog bite fatality victims were either visiting or living temporarily with the dog's owner when the fatal attack occurred -- the highest on record. Pit bulls were responsible for 77% (10) of these deaths. This growing trend alters traditional metrics, which in the past was dominated by a family dog killing a child or family member and deadly off property pack attacks. In 2016, the majority of victims killed while visiting the dog owner's home were also adults 54%.
During the 11-year period of 2005 to 2015, children 10-years old and younger were the primary victims, 71% (70 of 99), in the visiting scenario.A larger than average number of dog breeds killed in 2016 -- a total of 10 different breeds.1 Having never appeared in any previous years of our fatality statistics, the Belgian malinios inflicted two deaths in 2016. One was a large pack attack of Belgian malinios-American bulldog mixes in Miami-Dade County. The other was a "pet" dual-certified police K-9 in San Luis Obispo County. The owner of the K-9, now a former police officer, was subsequently charged with two felonies.
In 2016, newborns ages 3 to 6-days old accounted for 31% of all child deaths. That is alarming. The educational advancements in infant safety today, even from just 10-years ago, are formidable. Yet common sense about dogs is fading. No dog should be near a baby that young, much less lying in bed with it, as was the case when a large, rehomed pit-bull mix killed 3-day old Sebastian Caban. The family had adopted the dog 5-months earlier from the San Diego Humane Society.
Changing Traditional Fatal Dog Mauling Metrics
Single Dog Metric Shrinking Metric Shift
In 2016, 61% of all dog bite fatalities involved more than one dog, up from the 11-year average of 44%. Again the past metric of a single dog, usually a family dog, being the primary inflictor of fatal dog attacks is diminishing and being replaced by multiple dogs, chiefly pit bulls. In our 12-year data set of 392 deaths, 46% (179) involved attacks by more than one dog. Attacks by pit bulls involving more than one dog (typically another pit bull), contributed to 72% (128) of this subset.
Even an early CDC study (1989 to 1994) noted that 33% of all fatal pit bull attacks involved more than one dog vs. 21% of attacks involving other breeds. The 12-year data set also shows that both types have escalated since. Today, 50% of all fatal pit bull attacks (128 of 254) involve more than one dog, vs. 37% of all other dog breeds combined (51 of 138). In our modern 12-year data set, pit bulls also accounted for 71% (71 of 100) of all deaths that involved recent breeding activity.
Multi-pit bull households are diminishing the traditional metric of a single dog inflicting the most fatal attacks and have been for years.
|% Single Dog||Years||Single Dog of Total Studied||Entity/Study|
|70%||1979-1988||(76 of 108)||CDC/Sacks 1989|
|73%||1989-1994||(62 of 85)||CDC/Sacks, 1996|
|70%||1979-1998||(160 of 227)||CDC/AVMA, 2000|
|56%||2005-2010||(102 of 183)||DogsBite.org, 2017|
|52%||2011-2016||(109 of 209)||DogsBite.org, 2017|
|39%||2016||(12 of 31)||DogsBite.org, 20172|
Adult Deaths Outpace Child Deaths Metric Shift
2016 marks another year when dogs killed more adults than children, 58% and 42% respectively. Our combined 12-year data set shows that children, 9-years old and younger, accounted for 49% of all victims. This is a great shift from the past metric during the early CDC study period (1979 to 1988) when 70% of all victims were 9-years old and younger. The chart below depicts a rise of adult deaths, primarily in the 30 to 69-year old age groups, over the years from 1979 to 2016.
Which Breeds Are Killing Adults? Metric Validation
The same early CDC study (1979 to 1988) noted that 31% of all pit bull victims were ages 10 and older, compared to 19% for other breeds. Our 12-year data set shows a great increase in pit bulls killing adults. Of the 392 people killed by dogs from 2005 to 2016, 51% (199) were victims 10 and older. Pit bulls were responsible for 71% (141) of these deaths vs. all other breeds combined 29% (58). Of the total 254 people killed by pit bulls during this period, 56% (141) were 10 and older.
To re-emphasize, in the recent data set of 12-years, pit bulls were responsible for 71% of all fatal attack victims ages 10 and older.
|51% ages 10 and older||199|
|56% ages 10 and older||141|
|All Other Breeds Combined||45||19||16||1||0||14||20||23||138|
|42% ages 10 and older||58|
What Metric Remains the Same?
The 12-year data set shows that 24% (94) of all fatal attacks occurred off the dog owners' property, the exact same percentage as the 20-year CDC study published in the last century.4 During the 12-year period, pit bulls accounted for 66% (62) of these deaths. Of this pit bull subset, 82% (51) involved multiple dogs. Over half of all criminal cases involve off property attacks. Thus, off property attacks and criminal charges tend to mirror one another in the below 12-year chart.
Then we added a third mirror to the chart -- pit bulls. In the 12-year data set, only 20% (80) of all deaths resulted in criminal charges -- felonies or misdemeanor charges with jail time. Pit bulls accounted for 74% (59) of these cases. Among the 254 pit bull fatalities, 23% (59) resulted in criminal charges vs. 15% (21) for all other breeds combined. Measuring breed-to-breed, pit bulls had nearly twice the rate of rottweiler attacks, 12% (5 of 43), resulting in criminal charges.
53% (42) of all criminal cases involve off property attacks. Pit bulls killing off property and charges resulting accounted for 74% (31) of this subset.
Summary and Call-to-Action
12-years of fatal dog bite statistical data is sufficient to evaluate the "breed-specific" issue. Pit bulls dramatically dominate attacks causing death. With the addition of rottweilers, these two breeds accounted for 76% of all deaths. When mastiff-type guard dogs and war dogs are added -- the types used to create "baiting" bull breeds and fighting breeds5 -- this small group of breeds is responsible for 84% of all fatal attacks. Breed-specific laws are more needed now than ever.
As we stated in our Call-to-Action last year, instead, what is happening is the reverse. Powerful lobbying groups continue to push preemption bills on a state level that prohibit municipalities from adopting and enforcing breed-specific laws. Importantly, over the last two years legislatures in 10 different states have rejected these bills -- 94% failed to pass. Currently four states face this type of legislation in 2017, including: Delaware, Missouri, Washington and West Virginia.
Our call to action this year is the same as 2016: Use our statistics and charts in correspondence with local and state officials, especially the chart showing 12-years broken down by year that depicts how heavily two breeds, pit bulls and rottweilers, dictate fatal attacks. Use our nonfatal severe injury research as well. Last October, we published a special report that summarized key peer-reviewed medical studies (2009 to 2016) that examined the severity of pit bull injuries.
Additional Annual and Combined Year Statistical Graphics (2005 to 2016)
2, 3Single year statistics may or may not represent an actual trend; trends are revealed through combined years, preferably 100 cases or more. We just offset 2016 because it is the subject of this post.
4See first page under results. "Of 227 reports with relevant data, 55 (24%) human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off their owners' property..."
5This grouping includes: American bulldogs, mastiffs and bullmastiffs, presa canarios and cane corsos.
01/09/17: 2016 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs
02/19/16: 2015 U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Statistics - DogsBite.org
01/14/16: 2015 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs
07/24/14: Nonprofits Urge CDC to Resume Tracking Richer Data Set for Children and Adults...
Recent Nonfatal Studies:
10/10/16: Special Report: Level 1 Trauma Center Dog Bite Studies in All U.S. Geographical...
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Home where two English mastiffs killed a 5-year old boy in Clarksville.
Mastiffs Kill Boy
Clarksville, TN - A 5-year old boy is dead after being attacked by two family dogs Thursday morning, according to a news release from the Clarksville Police Department. At about 8:20 am, emergency responders were dispatched to a home on Charles Thomas Road. They found the 5-year old boy with "extensive injuries." He was transported to Tennova Medical Center, where he died of his injuries. The two dogs, both English mastiffs, were 6-months old, states the release.
Montgomery County Animal Control took both dogs into custody. Male English mastiffs can grow to over 200 pounds. The last fatal attack involving this specific mastiff type was the death of 7-year old Connor Lourens in 2006. He was visiting a neighbor's home when the owner's 140-pound English mastiff attacked his throat. That dog was about a year old. The combination of all mastiff types, including bullmastiffs, account for 12 deaths since 2005, 3.1% of all dog bite fatalities.
An evening update by NewsChannel 5 states the family "is asking for space at this time." No essential new details were provided, but the news group did capture the boy's home. Clarksville police spokesman Lt. Steve Warren believes the attack happened outside; video footage shows the backyard of the home is fenced off. It remains unknown where the parents or guardians of the little boy were when the animals attacked. Police continue to seek information from the public.
02/13/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: 75-Year Old Queens Woman Mauled to Death by Mastiff...
04/06/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Bullmastiff Kills Child, Seriously Injures Another in Killeen, Texas
01/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman, 75, Killed by Bullmastiff in Arkansas Gated Community
Monday, February 13, 2017
Planned to Return Dog Due to Aggression In Coming Days
Louise Hermida, 75-years old, was killed by a dog she adopted six years ago.
UPDATE 02/13/17: New information has been released. The mastiff was not recently adopted as many news groups reported earlier. New York City Animal Care and Control said the dog was adopted from their shelter nearly six years ago. The dog was one year old at that time. Also, the victim's next-door neighbor, Rosa Ortiz, said that Hermida wanted to turn in the dog because it attacked and killed a small terrier 10 days ago. Sadly, she did not return the dog soon enough.
Ortiz was the first to arrive to the scene after the brutal attack. The victim's son, who was also injured by the dog, alerted her to the attack. Ortiz called 911 then entered the victim's home. She found Hermida lying on the basement floor, reports DNA Info. "She had blood all over her. It was really bad," said Ortiz, who said Hermida was still conscious and speaking as they waited for an ambulance. She was pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian Hospital five hours later.
02/13/17: Adopted Dog Kills Owner
Queens, NY - An elderly woman was killed by a mastiff she recently adopted from an unnamed shelter or rescue. The animal also attacked her 39-year old son with special needs. Louise Hermida, 75-years old, had planned to return the dog as soon as Monday due to its aggression, according to multiple news reports. Hermida never had that chance. She was fatally attacked by the animal in her townhouse on 27th Street in Long Island City just after midnight Monday.
Hermida suffered severe trauma to her upper torso, according to police. She was transported to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at around 6 am Monday. Her 39-year old son, Daniel Ferraro, was also attacked by the dog in the lower left leg and was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The animal was sedated by New York Emergency Service Unit officers and is currently in the custody of New York City Animal Care and Control.
The New York Daily News quotes neighbor Jean Vontas, who said that Hermida had "too many dogs" at her home. "I never knew if they were baby sitting the dogs -- they were always walking the dogs up and down," Vontas told the Daily News. While it is unclear what that statement fully means, it seems clear enough that a 75-year old woman is a poor adopter choice for a dog that can grow to over 200 pounds. Also, NBC New York reports the dog is a mixed-breed mastiff.
Recent Shelter Dog Fatal Attacks
Since 2015, dogs "vetted" by passing temperament tests have killed two people. In July 2015, a 6-year old boy in North Carolina was killed by a male, neutered pit bull that was rehomed by the Asheville Humane Society 3-weeks earlier. The pit bull had passed the SAFER temperament test. In April 2016, a male pit bull-mix rehomed by the San Diego Humane Society killed a newborn. That dog also passed an assessment test prior to being adopted to the family 5-months earlier.
Since 2015, at least two dogs rehomed by shelters or rescues with an unknown or non-existent vetting process have killed as well. Anthony Riggs, 57, was killed by a rottweiler in November 2015 just hours after adopting the dog from a county pound in Tennessee. Eugene Smith, 87, was fatally attacked by his rescue pit bull while taking down his Christmas tree in January 2015. His family had adopted the dog 7-months earlier from an unnamed person or rescue in Maryland.
04/29/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Rehomed by Humane Society Kills Newborn Baby
11/18/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Newly Adopted Rottweiler Kills Owner in Madison County...
08/06/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Recently Adopted Out Pit Bull Kills 6-Year Old Boy...
01/08/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Maryland Man Mauled to Death by Adopted Rescue Pit Bull
Thursday, February 2, 2017
2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Former Officer Charged with Felonies After his 'Personal' K-9 Killed a Man and Injured a Woman
The attacking Dog, a Belgian Malinois, Was a Dual-Certified Police K-9
On December 13, a police-trained K-9 escaped its property and attacked two people killing one.
Charged with Two Felonies
UPDATE 02/02/17: The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office filed two felony counts against a former Grover Beach police officer after his "personal" dual-certified police-trained K-9 brutally attacked two neighbors, killing one of them, in December. Former officer Alex Paul Geiger, who was hired by the city of Grover Beach in September, resigned Wednesday and now faces nearly 4-years in jail if he is convicted on both counts. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA, February 2, 2017 – Today, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office filed two felony charges against Alex Paul Geiger (dob 7/31/1991) for failing to maintain control of a dangerous animal on December 13, 2016 that led to the death of David W. Fear (64) and serious bodily injury to Betty J. Long (86).Prior to joining the city of Grover Beach, Geiger had worked at the Exeter Police Department in Tulare County for two years with the last full year spent as a K-9 patrol officer with a Belgian malinois named "Neo." The dog was dual-certified in narcotics detection and patrol operations. Geiger left Exeter prior to the dog's annual re-certification and joined Grover Beach, which has no K-9 unit. On December 13, Neo escaped Geiger's property and brutally attacked Fear and Long.
The two-count felony criminal complaint alleges that Mr. Geiger had custody and control of a dangerous animal; that he knew that the animal was dangerous; that he failed to use ordinary care in keeping the animal; and that the animal killed David W. Fear and caused serious bodily injury to Betty J. Long. The code sections alleged are California Penal Code sections 399(a) and 399(b) respectively. (Read full press release) - District Attorney Dan Dow
Six months before Geiger moved to Grover Beach -- taking the dog with him as a "personal pet" -- Neo had bitten a trainer during a "bite suite exercise," reports The Tribune. However, the police K-9 was not taken out of service at the Exeter Police Department after the incident. When Geiger purchased the dog from Exeter for $5,287 in late August, he signed a waiver relieving Exeter of any future liability. Such a waiver is standard procedure, but offers no protections to the public.
Geiger wrote that he agreed to "hold harmless, defend and indemnify" the city of Exeter and the police union from all liability "arising out of my ownership and control of Neo." - The Tribune, January 23, 2017Additional public records obtained by The Tribune revealed the dog underwent K-9 training at Top Dog Training Center, LLC in Visalia, described as a "home-based K-9 training program," and gained certificates in the center’s narcotics detection and basic patrol courses in November and December 2015. The Tribune reports the K-9 center did not have a website. California Secretary of State records showed the company was founded in 2004 and has since been canceled.1
Finally, an investigation by The Tribune showed that one month after Geiger began working for Grover Beach in October -- and a month before his dog attacked Fear and Long -- he lobbied for a police K-9 program in Grover Beach. On November 10, Geiger and a senior officer presented Police Chief John Peters with a 140-page guide explaining how to form a K-9 unit in a small police department. Peters still maintains that his department had "no interest" in Neo as a K-9 officer.
Where Does Liability Fall?
First and foremost the liability of the mauling death of David Fear and injuries suffered by Betty Long falls squarely onto the shoulders of Alex Geiger -- in this case having both civil and criminal consequences. We applaud the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office for filing two felony counts against former officer Geiger. We hope that a jury of peers convicts. Beyond Geiger, the legal liability question remains murky and will take an excellent legal team to make distinct.
The question the public should consider is: 1.) Why is it okay for cities to absolve themselves of liability through a paper "waiver" after handing off attack-trained police K-9s to officers (or other individuals) after the dogs fail training, retire or in this case when the K-9 officer resigns? As we have emphasized before, these are extremely serious animals, not only trained in damaging bite work (See recent "Bite and Hold" Ninth Circuit ruling), but can also scale fences and walls.
01/16/17: Officer Lobbied for K-9 Program
In a disturbing update by The Tribune -- one that was hinted at in an earlier report by the news group -- Officer Alex Geiger quickly lobbied for a police K-9 program at Grover Beach after being hired. "One month before his police-trained pet dog attacked two Grover Beach residents, killing one of them, newly hired city police Officer Alex Geiger presented the police chief with a 140-page guide explaining how to form a K-9 unit in a small police department," reports The Tribune.
Police Chief John Peters had previously told The Tribune that his department had "internally explored" adding a K-9 officer, but that it had "no interest" in Geiger's personal dog. After a public records request, The Tribune was able to view the "binder" that Geiger and Senior Police Officer Matte Goodman submitted to Peters on November 10 -- a month after he was sworn in and a month before his dual-certified police K-9 killed David Fear and seriously injured Betty Long.
"It is our hope that you consider moving forward in putting a K-9 team together for Grover Beach Police Department," states the proposal.Part of the materials submitted to Peters by Geiger and Goodman included the estimated initial costs of a K-9 program, state certification guidelines, various grant opportunities, a list of specialized K-9 vehicles, a copy of the Arroyo Grande Police Department's K-9 policy and articles about "establishing a new K-9 unit for a small department," reports The Tribune. All backed by officer Geiger, the city's recent hire, who had a "freshly out of work" dual-certified police K-9.
While the city of Grover Beach tries to distance itself from any liability issues from the December 13 attack, we continue to wonder about Geiger's short stay at Exeter. He was a newbie K-9 officer on that police force, active for only a year before taking a job at Grover Beach, a city with no police K-9 unit. If Geiger's dual-certified K-9 had behavioral or training issues, they started while he was employed by Exeter. Geiger also left Exeter before his K-9's annual re-certification was due.
The dual re-certification (in detection and patrol operations) for his police K-9 named Neo was due in November and December respectively.Geiger left the Exeter police K-9 unit in late August, several months earlier, and paid the city of Exeter a mere $5,287 to keep his dual-certified police K-9. Geiger was hired by the city of Grover Beach in September. CalCoastNews notes that law enforcement agencies typically require officers to work for 7-years or longer before joining a K-9 unit and that sources from within the Exeter Police Department also told CalCoastNews that "Neo had some training and behavioral issues."2
01/05/17: Dual-Certified Police K-9
In response to The Tribune's exclusive article about officer Alex Geiger's previous employment and his dog's previous role as a trained police K-9 with the Exeter Police Department, the city of Exeter issued a news release Wednesday night explaining more about the dog's background. The dog was a "dual-certified" police K-9 -- trained in narcotics detection and patrol operations. Geiger purchased this "fully trained" and "dual-certified" police K-9 for a mere $5,287 before departing.
This police K-9 was trained in narcotics detection and patrol work -- obedience, search, apprehension and handler protection (bite work).Geiger left the Exeter Police Department's K-9 unit in August 2016. Exeter police Chief Cliff Bush said Wednesday that his "working police dog," named Neo, had completed all training in narcotics detection and patrol work in 2015. Geiger, as the dog's handler, had also completed "monthly maintenance training" at the Exeter Police Department until he departed to work for Grover Beach, a city that has no police K-9 unit. The city of Grover Beach hired Geiger in September 2016.
On December 13, Geiger's Belgian malinios, Neo, a dual-certified police K-9 in detection and patrol work (bite work), escaped Geiger's property and attacked Betty Long, 85. Her neighbor David Fear, 64, intervened to save her life. Fear suffered life-threatening injuries, including two arteries in his arms being severed; he died three days later while hospitalized. Long suffered serious bite injuries and broken bones from falling. She remains in a rehabilitation facility.
The kennel where the police K-9 was bred and later acquired by the city of Exeter, and the dog's POST-certified trainer, have yet to be identified.Time Line of Events
- 2009 - Alex Geiger serves as an Explorer with the Visalia Police Department.
- 2012 to 2013 - July to July. Geiger serves as a provisional deputy with the Kings County Sheriff’s Office (where he is seen in photo doing a K-9 bite work demo)
- 2014 - August. Geiger joins the Exeter Police Department as a provisional officer.
- 2015 - July. Geiger becomes a full-time police officer with the Exeter Police Department in Tulare County, California.
- 2015 - September. Geiger becomes a K-9 handler with the Exeter Police Department. This same month, the city acquires police K-9 "Neo" (1.5 years old)
- 2015 - November/December. Neo becomes "dual certified" in narcotics detection and patrol work (bite work).
- 2016 - January to August. - Geiger completes 16 hours of maintenance training each month, half of this time with a POST-certified trainer.
- 2016 - August. Geiger pays city of Exeter $5,287 to keep his "fully" trained, "dual-certified" police K-9 in narcotics detection and patrol work.
- 2016 - August. Geiger departs the Exeter Police Department as a member of its K-9 unit. No explanation as to why.
- 2016 - September. Gieger is hired by the city of Grover Beach as a police officer. Grover Beach does not have a K-9 unit.
- 2016 - September. Geiger moves into a "rented" home on Owens Court, one block from the scene of the deadly attack.
- 2016 - October 3. Geiger is officially sworn in at a Grover Beach City Council meeting.
- 2016 - December 13. Geiger's dogs (Neo, the primary attacker, and a German shepherd) escape his property and viciously attack David Fear and Betty Long.
- 2016 - December 15. Animal Services Director Eric Anderson issues news release stating that the Belgian Malinois -- and a German shepherd owned by Geiger -- were not connected to the Grover Beach Police Department.
- 2016 - December 16. David Fear dies of his injuries. Long remains in rehabilitation care.
- 2016 - December 19. City of Grover Beach places Geiger on paid administrative leave.
- 2016 - December 22. City of Grover finally releases the name of dogs' owner, police officer Alex Geiger, to the public. City does not provide any information on the dog's training.
- 2017 - January 4. The Tribune publishes an exclusive article, detailing Geiger's previous employment and that his dog was a trained police K-9.
- 2017 - January 4. City of Exeter responds with a news release that expands upon the dog's training -- Neo is "dual-certified" in narcotics detection and patrol work (apprehension, protection and bite work).
- 2017 - January 5. Grover Beach taxpayers continue to pay Geiger's salary, as he remains on paid administrative leave.
01/04/17: Trained Police K-9
It has been confirmed the Belgian malinios belonging to Grover Beach police officer Alex Geiger, which killed David Fear and seriously injured Betty Long in December, was trained as a police K-9. The Tribune's exclusive report also details Geiger's background. Since 2009, Geiger had worked for three different police forces prior to being hired by the city of Grover Beach in September 2016, including the Exeter Police Department, where Geiger was a member of its police K-9 unit.
In July 2015, Geiger became a full-time police officer with the Exeter Police Department and was a member of its K-9 unit when he departed in August 2016. On Tuesday, Exeter Police Chief Cliff Bush confirmed that Geiger was a handler for a police K-9 named "Neo" while working in Exeter. The dog came into the department with "basic training" and entered a Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified K-9 program with Geiger as his handler, according to Chief Bush.
Geiger purchased the dog from the city of Exeter before he moved to Grover Breach. Bush declined to say if "Neo" passed the POST training.POST Law Enforcement K-9 Guidelines
While we do not know exactly what "basic training" entails -- Bush did not provide these details -- a California document, POST Law Enforcement K-9 Guidelines, describes performing activities of IPO protection training for certification in patrol work, including: obedience, search, apprehension and handler protection -- bite work (See: pages 17 and 18). The guidelines are divided into two parts, patrol and detection -- the latter does not assume the police K-9 is also trained in bite work.
What is known is that Geiger purchased the Belgian malinois, which is a strong indicator -- especially in conjunction with the vague training information provided by Bush -- the malinois failed the POST certification program. Many of these dogs become "personal" dogs for their handlers after failing or retiring. The Tribune has filed a public records request with the city of Exeter to learn if the dog completed the POST training, served as a K-9 officer or failed the program.
Dizzying Array of Police K-9 Lawsuits
Back in 2013, we began tracking civil lawsuits involving police K-9s attacking bystanders and children and when being deployed on minor offenders. We started with multiple lawsuits in the Seattle area, as well as Vancouver, B.C., which came under fire for their deployment tactics. There have been many other lawsuits since. Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "Bite and Hold" could be viewed as excessive force as well, a violation of the 4th Amendment.
We express again just how serious apprehension and bite trained police K-9's are, whether on active duty or retired! These are advanced training levels, but certainly fit the age of Geiger's malinois of 2.5 years old. "Basic training," which we know the dog underwent, includes agility training, according to Policemag.com, where the dogs learn how to scale fences and walls. Geiger's malinois belonged in a locked six-sided enclosure inside his locked fenced-in backyard.
12/22/16: Police Officer Named
After over a week of withholding the identity of a Grover Beach police officer whose dogs escaped his property and attacked two people, killing one and seriously injuring the other, city officials released his name. Alex Geiger, 25, was identified by the Grover Beach Police Department Thursday as the owner of the dogs. Geiger is a four year law enforcement veteran and was hired by the city of Grover Beach in September. Officer Geiger remains on paid administrative leave.
Geiger previously worked as a deputy in the Kings County Sheriff’s Office, which has a police canine unit. Geiger released a prepared statement Thursday, along with the Grover Beach Police Officers Association, both calling it a "tragic incident." The association went further calling it a "tragic and unusual incident." City officials released no information about the history or training of the Belgian malinios belonging to Geiger that nearly killed two innocent people December 13.
In 2013, former Kings County Deputy Alex Geiger performed a demo with police K9 officer "Bos" at an Easter Egg hunt in Hanford.3 Geiger is not this dog's handler, but he is clearly connected with police K-9s and their training. Geiger is well aware that these are extremely serious animals. It seems safe to assume at this point that Geiger's malinois is from protection-bred stock and is likely protection trained as well. One of these dogs loose in a neighborhood is a recipe for disaster.
12/20/16: Officer Placed on Paid Leave
Late Monday it was reported that the owner of a dog that viciously attacked two people, killing one and seriously injuring the other, has been placed on paid administrative leave. The owner is an unidentified Grover Beach police officer. Last week his two dogs, a Belgian malinios and German shepherd, escaped his property and attacked 85-year old Betty Long and 64-year old David Fear. Fear had stepped into save the elderly woman. He died of his severe injuries three days later.
The primary aggressor was the Belgian malinios, a breed frequently used in police K-9 work. The unnamed officer surrendered that dog to animal control; it has since been euthanized. The owner agreed to quarantine the German shepherd until the investigation is over. It unclear what level of involvement the shepherd had in the violent attack. It's also unclear why the city of Grover Beach waited nearly a week after the attack before placing the officer on paid administrative leave.
San Luis Obispo County Animal Services is leading the investigation. The Grover Beach Police Department is not commenting on the investigation and does not have a police canine unit. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department is involved in the investigation and does have a canine unit.4 It is unknown if the attacking malinios owned by the unidentified officer is a retired police K-9, if it was trained in protection work or if it has a history of attacking people or pets.
Some readers might believe that by not naming this dog owner, authorities are giving this police officer special treatment. However, dog owners are often not named in fatal dog attacks by authorities or the media, unless criminal charges apply. Other times, owners will openly talk to the media -- they always have that choice. Generally, withholding the owner's name makes it extremely difficult for the community to know if the dog had a history of aggression or attacks.
Journalists, our nonprofit and others often cannot proceed with research and fact-finding without this information. This horrific dog attack is a special case scenario too. Does the public have the right to know this officer's name after his "personal" dog killed a man and seriously injured a woman? We believe it best serves the public interest that he is identified, along with the history of his Belgian malinios. Otherwise, this obvious missing information only serves to further rumors.
Victim's Family Reaches Out
Yesterday a relative of Fear left a heartbreaking comment on a post at this website. In the comment, his sister-in-law states that Betty Long, whose life was saved by Fear's actions, could hear him crying out, "Help! Help! They're eating me!" over and over again. Her comment was left on the four year anniversary post of this nonprofit's founder. Our hearts go out to his wife Terri and all of his family members. This was a vicious, horrific attack that could have killed two people.
"I am David Fear's sister-in-law, and you wrote the clearest article recalling all that has transpired since his mauling and death. My husband has horrifically lost his best friend and brother. We all are devastated when we consider the horror he went through. His neighbor whom he saved could hear him crying out, "Help! Help! They're eating me!" over and over again. I read the same words in your recount."
12/17/16: Man Dies After Dog Attack
Grover Beach, CA - Late Friday, 64-year old David Fear died after being viciously attacked by one or more dogs earlier this week. A spokesman at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center confirmed his death today. The dogs first attacked his neighbor, 85-year old Betty Long. Fear intervened to help save her life. Fear suffered critical dog bite injuries, including two arteries in his arms being severed. Long suffered serious bite injuries and broken bones from falling. Both were hospitalized.
The two dogs -- a Belgain malinois and German shepherd -- belong to a Grover Beach police officer. The malinois is the primary attacker.The attack occurred Tuesday outside of Long's home on Nacimiento Avenue. The two victims are next-door neighbors. The San Luis Obispo County Department of Animal Services identified the 2.5 year old Belgain malinois -- typically used in police K-9 work -- as the main aggressor. The dog was surrendered by its owner and euthanized Tuesday. The other dog remains with its owner. The unnamed Grover Beach police officer who owns both dogs was away at the time of the attack.
Grover Beach does not have a police canine program and neither of the dogs were city-owned, according to Eric Anderson, the manager of San Luis Obispo County Animal Services. What is unknown, however, is if the malinois is a retired police K-9 from a different city or county or if it was trained in protection work. The Grover Beach police department has referred all questions to Animal Services. Neighbors said the dogs' owner had only lived in the neighborhood a short while.
A close friend of Fear initially created a GoFundMe page to help pay the cost of his medical bills. The goal of the fund has since changed to help Fear's wife pursue a legal case against the dog's owner. Long, who suffered multiple broken bones and staples in her head from falling, is expected to be discharged from the hospital today. Ron Yukelson, a spokesperson for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, said that Fear’s family plans to issue a statement about his death later in the day.
Family Releases Statement
Saturday evening, David Fear's family did release a statement. His brother, Steve Fear, earlier described his injuries to KSBY.com as so severe that two arteries in his arms were severed, contributing to him losing six pints of blood. The city of Grover Beach also released a statement, "a tragic and unfortunate dog attack has brought sadness to our hearts," it states in part. The city's words fall flat, especially if the dog was a retired police K-9 or was trained in protection work.
"Despite the tireless efforts of the Sierra Vista medical team, David Fear lost his battle for life late Friday evening. Our entire family offers the most sincere gratitude for the selfless dedication of David's world-class doctors, nurses, support technicians, and blood donors who gave us the opportunity to spend his last moments with us in his time of need. We truly appreciate the support and heartfelt sentiments of our community. The family will announce memorial plans in due time and asks that privacy be respected for the time being." - Family of David Fear
2Well that would be a mild understatement now wouldn't it? We can only imagine there were "handler" training and behavioral issues as well.
4"Bos" is depicted as the center dog on the Kings County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit page.
5Notably, last year a "highly trained K-9 officer" named "DJ" of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office mistakenly attacked a California Highway Patrol officer while in pursuit of a suspect. Afterward, DJ was taken off duty for two weeks and placed under an in-house quarantine to see if the K-9 had "any ill effects from the incident."
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