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Friday, October 24, 2014


2014 Dog Bite Fatality: 7-Year Old Boy Killed by Dog in Dodge County, Wisconsin

dodge county boy killed by dog
Child Killed by Dog
Hustisford, WI - In a developing story, a 7-year old child was attacked and killed by a dog Friday evening. The Dodge County Sheriff's Office said the attack occurred in the Town of Hustisford. Sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call at about 5:20 pm reporting the boy was bleeding profusely. "Numerous first-responding agencies responded," Dodge County Sheriff's Office Lt. Brian Loos said. Despite the many emergency responders, they were unable to save the boy's life.

Loose said the dog was known to the family, but would not confirm if it was a family pet or the dog's breed. Few other details are being released at this time. The animal was seized and transported to the local humane society to be placed into quarantine. Loos said the boy's death is devastating to the responders who worked so hard to save his life. "Children are always the worst ones for our first responders to deal with. It's very difficult for them to deal with this," he said.1

Responding agencies included: Dodge County Sheriff’s Dept. and chaplain, Neosho/Rubicon/Ashippun Police, Dodge County Medical Examiner, Hustisford Fire and First Responders, Lebanon EMS, Hartford EMS, Iron Ridge Fire Dept., Woodland Fire Dept. and Flight For Life.

2010 Dog Bite Fatality

In 2010, 4-year old Taylor Becker of Hustisford (population 1,380) was mauled to death by a dog while visiting family friends in Hubbard Township (population 1,640), also located in Dodge County. The two towns are about 7-miles apart. The little girl's parents had been visiting the home of Steven and Stefanie Beauprey when the lethal attack occurred. The 5-year old dog had only been with the Beaupreys for 3 to 4 months before killing Taylor. The Beaupreys were breeding the dog.

1Fox6 News initially reported that the attack occurred at Country Kennels Bed and Biscuit then later removed this information.

Related articles:
07/26/13: Beyond the Interview: Essay of a Fatal Pit Bull Mauling
08/27/10: 2010 Dog Bite Fatality: Dog Kills Visiting 4-Year Old Girl in Dodge County

Photo: WISN.com

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2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Killed by Family Pit Bull in Cave City, Arkansas

Woman killed by pet pit bull
Vicious Dog Ordinance
UPDATE 10/24/14: The mauling death of 75-year old Alice Payne by her pet pit bull on September 26 has prompted Cave City Council members to consider a vicious dog ordinance. In the days following the deadly attack, Cave City Police Chief Nate Stephens asked council members to consider one. The first discussion of the possible ordinance is set for October 28 at the Cave City City Hall. Stephens recently discussed pit bulls on the police department Facebook page:
pit bull "These dogs were bred to fight to death, bite harder, get stronger and be tougher. This breed is what is known as pit bulls. They get the name from the dogs being placed in pits to fight each other. These dogs weren't bred for intelligence, to be docile or make good pets. They were made to kill another man's dog. I have seen some pits that are really nice dogs. I have a friend who has one that will lick you to death. But you never know when a pit will go back to what it is bred to do. Some never do go back and continue to be good pets. However, it's a roll of the dice and you never know how they will fall. Statistics shows, that most will turn on their owners and usually a child of the owner. Some of them turn on whoever is handy when they decide to snap. Some say all dogs will bite and that is true, but pits are more likely to maul and finish the job if they can, and other breeds bite and run or back off. Pits can't be blamed, it was what they were made to do." Cave City Police Chief Nate Stephens
10/08/14: County Coroner Report
New information about a Cave City woman who was attacked and killed by her pit bull on September 26 has been released. According to a report from Sharp County Deputy Coroner Aaron Presser, Alice Payne, 75-years old, was in her home on North Melody Lane when she was attacked by the dog after tripping and falling. Payne's daughter, Sheree Huckabee, was in the backyard when the deadly attack began. She heard her mother call out, saying she had fallen.

After coming into the home, she witnessed her mother being bitten in the face and neck by the pit bull. Huckabee intervened and tried to get the dog off her mother. Her son called 911. Both Huckabee and her son were also bitten by the dog before containing the animal in the backyard, according to on scene officials. The first officer to respond to the scene, Cave City Sergeant Bryan Barnett, was met by Huckabee who confirmed the dog was a pit bull belonging to her mother.

When Barnett reached Payne's body she was no longer breathing and found to be deceased. He observed extensive injuries from apparent dog bites. The Arkansas State Police Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy. Cave City Police Chief Nate Stephens said police reports on the incident would be released once autopsy results are known. "It is an ongoing joint investigation between the Cave City Police Department and Sharp County Sheriff's Department," Stephens said.

Alice Payne was widely known in the area. She operated an antique store, Hometown Antiques and Gifts, for many years. Funeral services were held on October 3 at Soul's Harbor Church.

09/28/14: Woman Killed by Own Pit Bull
Cave City, AR - A Cave City woman is dead after being attacked by her own pit bull. Alice Payne, 75, was killed in her home by a family dog on Friday, according to police. Family members were able to get the dog off Payne and into the backyard. The victim's body has been transported to the state crime lab for an autopsy. Cave City does not currently have a vicious dog ordinance, according to police. The police chief plans to ask city council to consider one this week.

KAIT 8 reports that Sharp County Dispatch received a 911 call at about 2:15 pm Friday. Multiple law enforcement and emergency medical teams responded to the house on North Melody Lane. Cave City Police Sergeant Brian Barnett arrived first and found Alice Payne, 75, dead on her living room floor with bite marks all over her body. The woman's daughter said she witnessed her mother's pit bull attack her. The dog was put down by officers and turned over for rabies testing.
map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: Arkansas Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

Related articles:
01/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman, 75, Killed by Bullmastiff in Arkansas Gated Community
11/19/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Boy Dies After Attacked by Pit Bulls in White County, Arkansas  06/13/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Child Temporarily Staying with Aunt Killed by Neighbor's Dog
09/11/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Jefferson County Woman Attacked by Own Pit Bulls Dies

Photo: City-Data.com

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Thursday, October 23, 2014


Detroit Man Suffers Catastrophic Injuries in Violent Pack Attack by Pit Bulls

pit bulls nearly kill Detroit man
Residence where over a dozen pit bulls were kept, at least 8 adult dogs.

Weighing Felony Charge
UPDATE 10/22/14: In a surprising development, the Wayne County Prosecutor's office is now weighing whether to charge the owner of a dozen pit bulls that nearly killed a man with a felony. A warrant request was submitted to the prosecutor's office on Tuesday seeking a felony charge of harboring a vicious animal causing serious injury, according to Detroit police. The request is currently under review by the prosecutor's office. A decision will not be made this week.

Steve Constantine, 50-years old, remains hospitalized in critical condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital after surviving the brutal attack on October 2. The Detroit Free Press obtained recordings of the 911 calls, as well as a half-dozen police reports that provide gruesome details about the violent attack and the victim's horrific injuries. The pit bulls chewed off most of Constantine's left arm and removed "large chunks of flesh" from his arms and legs, according to police reports.
pit bull "Fearing for my safety and own well being, I … engaged the animal a second time, by discharging my firearm twice striking the animal twice, killing it," Sexton wrote, noting that he fired nine shots in all.
pit bull The reports list a grim array of injuries, with arms and legs ripped to the bone and dogs "eating the flesh" off a naked man. A friend, who visited Constantine days later at Detroit Receiving Hospital, said he had lost most of his left arm. - Detroit Free Press, October 22, 2014
The police report also details shots fired. Officer Adam Sexton wrote that he fired numerous times at the pack of pit bulls that were actively attacking Constantine, striking four. Most of the pack then fled, but one of the shot dogs dropped to the ground yelping, trying to take cover in a large bush. That pit bull then jumped to its feet and advanced his partner, who shot it twice. Now with at least three bullets in it, the same pit bull again charged Sexton, who shot it two more times killing it.

10/09/14: No Charges; Victim Identified
The owner of a dozen pit bulls that escaped his home and nearly mauled a man to death faces a handful of misdemeanor violations. Sgt. Michael Woody acknowledged that the case is "horrifying," but the citations are likely the extent of the penalties the dog owner faces. On October 2, at least a dozen pit bulls escaped from Derrick Felton's home and inflicted catastrophic injuries on an innocent passerby. Steve Constantine remains in critical condition unable to speak.

Police believe at least 12 pit bulls participated in the violent attack. All of the dogs have since been euthanized. Neighbors had complained a number of times about Felton's loose dogs, but there were no reports of the dogs attacking a person. Thus, the life-altering attack of Steve Constantine has no consequences. The best Detroit could do after the attack was to pin the citations and a brochure titled, "Pet Ownership in Detroit Your Rights and Responsibilities," to Felton's door.

Ron Gulledge, Constantine's roommate, rushed to the hospital after learning of the attack. "I talked to him and told him to be strong … and he nodded," Gulledge said. He described Constantine's injuries as different than initial reports. He said only a small portion of his upper left arm remains, his left leg now has rods in it and his right leg, arm and head are heavily bandaged. He said it looked like Constantine still has feet and one hand, but he could not see all of his fingers or toes.
"It's terrible," Gulledge said. "You don't wish nobody to get eaten alive."
We will add to his statement, "get eaten alive on a residential street by dogs," and afterward, "there are no repercussions for the dogs' owner." Annually, there are over 600 media reported disfiguring and maiming attacks by pit bulls alone across the country. There is no longer any excuse for cities and police authorities to lack criminal procedures after a horrific maiming attack, particularly when involving "loose" dogs. The previous history of the dogs does not matter.

People like Steve Constantine and Klonda Richey are paying with their lives for the indefensible lagging by local and state lawmakers to write and implement post 1985 criminal penalties for the owners of dogs that chew off the limbs of people like a bear or tiger would or leave their faces so disfigured that even 21st Century medicine does not know how to fix. As a man who lost his wife in a brutal dog attack last year voiced, "What kind of country is this? What protection do we have?"

10/04/14: Pit Bulls Inflict Catastrophic Injuries
Detroit, MI - A man suffered catastrophic injuries after being attacked by a pack of pit bulls Thursday night. The dogs "chewed off" the victim's hands and feet in the attack, according to Police Detective Michael Pacteles. The dogs were so vicious paramedics were forced to wait in their vehicles for police to arrive before they could help the man. Police shot and killed at least one pit bull; 12 other pit bulls were seized from Derrick Felton's home, the owner of the dogs.
"Because of the viciousness of the attack, the remaining pit bulls will be euthanized." - Detroit Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody
Andrew Sims lives a few houses away and witnessed part of the horrific attack. He told the Detroit Free Press the attack was more gruesome than anything he had seen during a tour in Vietnam. "They was aggressive. They didn't stop. I could just see them tugging, you know, pulling at him," Sims said. The mauling victim continues to remain unidentified -- he was not carrying identification when the dogs escaped through a side door of the owner's home and viciously attacked him.

As of Saturday afternoon, the victim remains in critical condition and unconcious at Detroit Receiving Hospital, according to Detroit Police Officer Adam Madera. Police have been unable to ask him any questions about his identity or the circumstances of the attack. Different reports have emerged about why the victim had been in the area at the time of the 10 pm attack, ranging from "unclear" reasons to he had been walking along the sidewalk near the dog owner's home.

Two videos by 7 Action News show police and animal control seizing the pit bulls and arresting the dogs' owner, Derrick Felton. They also interviewed neighbors who said the pit bulls were often seen running loose. A female neighbor, who was not identified, said, "Those dogs are vicious, I am not surprised," after learning about the violent attack. When asked if the dogs often got out she said, "Yes, a lot of times." Though the investigation is ongoing, dogfighting is not suspected.

In July, Craig Sytsma, 46-years old, was brutally killed by two cane corsos while jogging in Metamora Township, about 50 miles away from Detroit. The two owners of the cane corsos are currently standing trial for murder in the second-degree in connection to Sytsma's death.

vicious pit bulls that nearly kill Detroit man
Related articles:
09/13/14: Criminal Trial: Couple Charged with Second-Degree Murder After Cane Corsos...
09/11/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Type Dogs Attack, Strip Naked and Kill Dayton Woman
08/02/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Two Cane Corsos Brutally Attack and Kill Jogger in Metamora...
05/31/13: Westwego Woman Loses Eye, Ear and Both Arms After Pet Pit Bulls Attack
07/25/12: Bay County Animal Hospital Worker Suffers Catastrophic Injury in Pit Bull Attack
02/16/12: Orlando Woman Suffers Catastrophic Pit Bull Injury; Amputations Expected

Photos: WXYZ.com

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014


2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Modesto Man, Critically Injure Another

Pit bulls kill Modesto man injure another
Survivor is Improving
UPDATE 10/21/14: On Monday, the Modesto Bee reported the first update on the medical condition of 77-year old Maria Fernandez who was placed into a medically induced coma after four pit bulls belonging to her neighbor critically injured her and mauled her son to death. Maria has been transferred out of intensive care and is expected to survive, according to Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. She remains hospitalized, but is now listed in stable condition.

An autopsy conducted Monday on her son, 54-year old Juan Fernandez, determined that he died from massive blood loss when he was attacked by four pit bulls on October 14 at his Glenn Avenue home. He suffered multiple traumatic injuries and died the next day. Due to the extent of his injuries, the pathologist could not determine how many bites had been inflicted, according to Detective Josh Sandoval. Arriving Stanislaus County deputies shot and killed all four pit bulls.

The investigation continues with conflicting media reports. Sandoval states in the Modesto Bee article, "Evidence at the scene shows that both victims were present in the backyard; however, there were no eyewitnesses to how the attack began." Deputies found Juan Fernandez unconscious and unresponsive in the backyard of his home. While searching his home, they discovered his mother inside with "multiple traumatic bite wounds," also attacked by the dogs.1

Sheriff "Braces" Public for Inexplicable

Since last week, Sheriff Christianson has been "bracing" media members and the public with the inexplicable reality that criminal charges are unlikely. It appears in Stanislaus County one can own four pit bulls that escape their fenced property, maul a man to death in his own backyard, then in a vicious "home-invasion" attack, nearly maul to his mother to death too. We pray that Maria, now out of a medically induced coma, can provide sheriffs officials with crucial background details.
pit bull"We certainly want to hold someone criminally accountable for this tragedy. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that in order to charge a criminal act, there has to be a provable act of negligence. If we're unable to prove that the dog owner was negligent in some form or fashion, there's no way we’ll be able to present a prosecutable case to the district attorney." - Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson
The sheriff's answer suffices after a 1984 fatal pack attack, but fails miserably 30-years later and 315 dead Americans later, all killed by pit bulls. Attorney Kenneth Phillips stated last week, "There is definitely a criminal angle. You have four pit bulls, pit bulls are known to be dangerous, dogs in a pack are known to be dangerous and it's illegal for them to be out. This would be like owning four loaded guns, and if you have four loaded guns, you don’t leave them out, you lock them up."2

10/15/14: Dog Mauling Victim Identified
The 54-year old victim has been identified.3 Juan Fernandez of Modesto died of multiple traumatic injuries inflicted by the dogs, authorities said Wednesday. His mother, 77-year old Maria Fernandez, remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma. The four pit bulls belonged to the victims' neighbors and got into the victims' yard by digging a hole under a shared fence, according to Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. The owners could face charges.

In order to pursue criminal charges, Christianson said authorities would have to show that the owners of the pit bulls were negligent. "There is still a lot of work to do," he said. "We have to be able to finish the investigation to determine what happened that led up to this tragedy," Christianson said. Investigators will be looking to see whether the dogs had a history of vicious behavior or any contact with animal control prior to the attack concerning bites or vicious behavior.

Similar Circumstances, Dog Owners Charged

In 2011, San Diego County authorities criminally charged a mother and daughter after their two pit bulls crawled through a hole in the fence and brutally mauled their neighbor, 75-year old Emako Mendoza. The victim suffered catastrophic injuries requiring multiple surgeries and two amputations, and arm and a leg. Alba Cornelio and her daughter, Carla Cornelio, were charged with serious bodily injury from a mischievous animal, a felony, along with multiple misdemeanors.

Six months later, on Christmas Eve, Emako died. A few weeks before her death, she underwent a third amputation, her remaining leg, due infection within the bone. Prosecutors increased charges to involuntary manslaughter, death from a mischievous animal and multiple misdemeanors. In February 2013, a jury found both women guilty on all charges. Carla Cornelio, 21, was sentenced to 4-years in prison. Her mother Alba Cornelio died of medical issues prior to being sentenced.

10/15/14: Man Dies After Pit Bull Attack
Modesto, CA - In a developing story, a 59-year old man horrifically mauled by pit bulls Tuesday night has died from his injuries, according to sheriff's officials. The man's 77-year old mother, who was also violently attacked by the dogs, remains in critical condition at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. At this time sheriff's investigators are still trying to learn who owns the four pit bulls that were involved in the mauling, according to Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

On Tuesday at about 5:45 pm, deputies responded to a home on the 800 block of Glenn Avenue. The location is very close to Bret Harte Elementary School. Deputies arrived to three pit bulls mauling a man in the backyard; the fourth pit bull was circling the vicious attack. They shot and killed two of the pit bulls immediately then later shot the other two as well. Deputies found the injured female victim inside the house; she had also been attacked by the same pit bulls.

Sheriff Adam Christianson told CBS San Francisco, "We’ve seen bites involving pit bulls before. But never four dogs on a single human being to the point that the victim in this case was unconscious and unresponsive." Christianson said the dogs were from the neighborhood, but the identities of the owner(s) is still undetermined. Neighbors said they had seen the dogs loose in the area before. The investigation is ongoing. The names of the victims have not been released.
map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: California Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

1Sheriff Christianson said last week, "She was attacked inside the residence, so we’re trying to piece together all the facts and circumstances..." Also, there were witnesses when the pit bulls brutally mauled her son.
2A fatal pack attack involving four at large pit bulls -- or other recognized dangerous dog breed -- should be sufficient in proving negligence.
3The deceased victim's age is being reported as 54 and 59.

Related articles:
11/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Antelope Valley Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bulls
11/22/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Stockton Woman Killed by a 'Big, Nasty Pit Bull' 
09/25/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: 2-Year Old Boy Killed by Relative’s Pit Bulls in Colton
06/20/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Union City Boy, 6, Killed by Uncle's Pet Pit Bull
01/18/12: 2011 Dog Bite Fatality: Victim of Catastrophic Pit Bull Injury Dies on Christmas Eve

Photo: KCRA.com

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Announcement: Happy Birthday DogsBite.org!

Dog Bite Victims' Advocacy Group Turns 7-Years Old

seventh birthday dogsbite.org, happy birthday
Austin, TX - October 15, 2014 marks the seventh year that DogsBite.org has been operating on the World Wide Web educating the public, dog bite victims, attorneys, doctors, law enforcement, journalists and policymakers about the growing epidemic of serious and fatal dog maulings in this country. The vast majority of these severe attacks are inflicted by a handful of well-documented dangerous dog breeds. Our website is now over 2,200 pages and hosts over 500 PDF files.

The cornerstone of DogsBite.org is conducting high quality research and analysis about U.S. fatal dog maulings that identify underreported high-risk injury scenarios, primarily involving children. We uncover trends that are unknown to the CDC and other researchers. For instance, in 2013, 38% of all dog bite fatality victims were either visiting or living temporarily with the dog's owner when the fatal attack occurred, up from 32% in 2012. Young children accounted for 83% of these deaths.
Our dedication, research and analysis saves lives by providing parents critical safety information that is often not widely distributed.
At the end of 2014, DogsBite.org will have collected 10-years of U.S. dog bite fatality information. It is our mission to collect and closely analyze this data, including subsequent criminal trials and legislation that comes in response to a devastating fatal dog mauling, because the fundamental U.S. government agency that should be closely tracking this information, the CDC, stopped in 1998. It is our mission to prevent these horrific attacks no matter the hurdles that lay in our path.

In 2011, we launched Fatal Pit Bull Attacks - The Archival Record, tracking the growing number of Americans killed by pit bulls. As of today, 255 people have been mauled to death by pit bulls since the CDC stopped tracking breed data in 1998, and since 1980, 336 killed. Earlier this month, we launched a separate list: Fatal Pit Bull Attacks - Child Fatalities. As of today, 133 children have been struck down by these dogs since 1998, and since 1980, 184 dead. This is unacceptable.

Good Strides, Still a Ways to Go

Despite our strides over the past 7-years, we still suffer a difficult fate: Many parents do not find us online until it is too late. Many parents are "so close" to understanding the danger these dogs pose to their children, but still agree to a "temporary" situation, allowing the dog to stay in their home for a short while, or allow their child to visit the home of a spouse or babysitter who owns a pit bull -- a risk factor today that accounts for nearly 4 times the number of deaths inflicted by chained dogs.

Why don't more of these parents just say no, especially when they already have misgivings? Because the readily available information (pumped out by Cesar Milan, AVMA and the Pit Bull Propaganda Machine) claims "It's all how you raise them." Add to this that the common understanding of a "dog bite" is a minor injury that might require a few stitches. Many people simply have no idea what a "mauling injury" entails, permanent disfigurement or loss of limbs.

As stated in our CDC Remedy document, 93% of all dog bites fall into the "garden variety" category requiring very little medical attention. The remaining 7% is the focus of DogsBite.org, severe injuries requiring emergency room treatment (5%) or hospitalization (2%) and in some cases death.1 When more parents understand severe "mauling injuries," they can make better choices, one of which is to simply say no if asked, "Can I bring my pit bull into your home?"

A Special Thanks to Our Donors

Our website, ongoing research and our ability to travel to locations to present vital testimony would not be possible without donations from across the country and around the world. We thank all of our donors so much for making our mission possible and for making our 7th birthday a reality. You have had great faith that we would persevere and we ARE! Together, with your continued support, we will keep fighting and we will see an end to senseless "mauling injuries" and fatal attacks.

Key Benchmarks in Past 7-Years

Lastly, every year brings new benchmarks of progress. The last 12-months in particular mark the growth of the victims' advocacy movement across the country. There are so many new websites, blogs and Facebook pages advocating on behalf of victims and breaking down the dangerous myths proliferated by pit bull owners that it is hard to keep track! With that, we leave readers with some of the key benchmarks of DogsBite.org and the advocacy movement over the last 7-years.
donate to dogsbite.org today
Donations to DogsBite.org are tax-deductible
Help keep our mission of prevention alive by contributing today

1Section II: The CDC Obfuscates "Bites" with Mauling and Maiming Injuries and Deaths (Page 7).
2We have more years of fatality data than our age of 7 because we also collected data from 2005 and 2006.

Related articles:
03/20/13: Texas Leads the Nation in Fatal Dog Attacks; Dog Bite Victims' Group Releases...
01/11/13: DogsBite.org Releases 2012 Dog Bite Fatality Statistics, Features Two New Tracking...
04/25/12: DogsBite.org Announces Neighborhood Safety Campaign and New Brochure...
11/22/11: DogsBite.org Releases Hero Stories; Honoring Those Who Risked Their Lives to Stop...
06/20/11: Founder Colleen Lynn Reflects Upon Four Year Anniversary of Her Attack

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Aurora Citizens: Do Not Allow Pit Bulls Back into Aurora

Vote No on Pit Bull Ballot Question, Proposition 2D

Vote no Aurora, do not allow pit bulls back into aurora
Vote No on Proposition 2D
Aurora, CO - On October 14, ballots will begin to be mailed to all registered voters in Aurora, Colorado. In a first ever general election vote, the public will be asked the following: "Shall the people of Aurora adopt an ordinance allowing pit bulls back into their city?" We urge residents of Aurora to vote no. The City of Aurora adopted a pit bull ban in 2005. Since this time, serious pit bull maulings have virtually been eliminated. The Aurora pit bull ban is a proven success.
The Aurora pit bull ban is a proven human success, a proven humane success and a proven legal success.
Proven Human Success

The number one goal of a pit bull ban is to drastically reduce and to eliminate horrific pit bull maulings. Aurora's pit bull ban has accomplished this. There has not been an extreme human mauling in Aurora in many years. Statistics provided by the city's animal care division in March also show that overall pit bull bites have been reduced by 73% since adopting the ban. The Aurora pit bull ban is a proven human success. May Aurora residents continue to enjoy this safety!
pit bull"Since the ban has been in place, bites are down 73 percent from pit bulls," said Cheryl Conway, a spokeswoman for the city’s animal care division.
--- snip ---
pit bull“There hasn’t been a human mauling in many years. Complaints and requests related to pit bulls are down 50 percent." - Cheryl Conway, Aurora Sentinel, March 2014
Proven Humane Success

The Aurora pit bull ban is a proven humane success. In the same March article, Cheryl Conway, a spokeswoman for the city's animal care division, said that before the ban was enacted, up to 70% of shelter space was occupied by dangerous or unwanted pit bulls. The level now is only 15%. Moreover, since the adoption of the ban, euthanasia of pit bulls is down 93%. Achieving this 93% reduction is a victory that most city shelters in the U.S. can only dream of accomplishing.

Why is the euthanasia of pit bulls so low in Aurora? Because the heart of a pit bull ban contains the critical ingredient to make this possible: mandatory sterilization of existing pit bulls. When Aurora's ban was adopted, grandfathered in pit bulls were required to be registered, sterilized and insured. This, combined with prohibiting new pit bulls, dramatically reduces the population of pit bulls within a community, thus dramatically reduces shelter intake of unwanted pit bulls.
pit bullAccording to city documents, before the ordinance was enacted in 2005, up to 70 percent of kennels in the Aurora Animal Shelter were occupied by pit bulls with pending court disposition dates or with no known owner.  That number is now only 10 to 20 percent of kennels.
--- snip ---
pit bull“Euthanasia of pit bull dogs is down 93 percent. Of those few that are put down, they are primarily those that come in as strays and their owners don’t come to claim them.” - Cheryl Conway, Aurora Sentinel, March 2014
Proven Legal Success

Both the Aurora and Denver pit bull bans have withstood numerous legal challenges and prevailed each time. These ordinances are both legal and constitutional in the eyes of appellate justices. Additionally, back when Aurora's ban was challenged in 2009, it was a fighting breed ban that included 7 dog breeds, and their derivative breeds, along with pit bulls. Aurora's original fighting breed ban is a proven legal success and continues to serve as the Model Fighting Breed Ban.

What if the Ban is Repealed?

Denver, officially the City and County of Denver (the Denver pit bull ban pertains to both), directly borders Aurora. Nearby Commerce City also bans pit bulls. Prior to Aurora adopting its ban in 2005, not only did the city experience vicious pit bull maulings, but also a high influx of pit bulls banned in bordering and nearby jurisdictions into their shelter system. This scenario will replay itself within 15 months of the ban being repealed. Aurora, essentially, will be back to square one.

Because of the boarding jurisdictions that ban pit bulls, the situation in Aurora might be worse than what occurred in Cincinnati after it repealed its longstanding ban in May 2012. 15 months after the repeal, shelter occupancy of pit bulls in Cincinnati city shelters increased up to 85%. Horrific maulings began as well, beginning with Bulah Shaef, 73, in December 2013 and the extreme mauling of Zainabou Drame, 6, in June 2014, causing city officials to reconsider the repeal.

The public outcry after the horrifying Zainabou attack was immense. Her grandfather described her injuries as, "One dog grabbed her face and literally tore it off. The other one pulled her mouth off." He was not exaggerating. She has severe facial injuries, a dislocated and broken jaw and she lost her tongue in the attack. Current medicine has no way of restoring her speech. She is home from the hospital now, but faces years of future surgeries and may never be able to speak again.

Turn the Corner on the Pit Bull Problem

Cities like Aurora and Denver have turned the corner on the pit bull problem. Across the country, in cities that do not regulate pit bulls, there has been a dramatic rise in pit bull maulings since 2007, the year of Michael Vick. Last September, we compared Pawtucket's successful pit bull ban to what is occurring nationally from 2002 to 2013. Pit bull attacks in Pawtucket nosedive after adopting a pit bull ban in 2004. Nationally, pit bull maulings across the U.S. skyrocket post 2007.


View Colorado Breed-Specific Laws in a larger map

Related articles:
07/02/14: Director of the Division of Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Cincinnati...
09/17/13: Dramatic Decline in Attacks by Pit Bulls Since Pawtucket Adopted Pit Bull Ban in 2004
08/16/12: Vote in Miami-Dade County to Repeal Pit Bull Ban Fails by Wide Margin
08/25/09: The History of the Denver Pit Bull Ban and the Victims that Prompted New Law

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Thursday, October 9, 2014


Criminal Trial: Arkansas Mother and Daughter on Trial for Fatal Dog Mauling of Joan Kappen

One of Two Victims Killed by Littermate Dogs in a 5-Month Period

Joan KappenNorbert Hans Kappen
Brande Michelle CoyEmily Ann CoyPatrone, the fatally attacking bullmastiff-pit bull mix
The victim's grieving husband and best friend, Norbert "Hans" Kappen, attends criminal trial.

Both Found Guilty
UPDATE 10/09/14: Some of our readers followed the live Twitter feed last night as the jury deliberated and reached a verdict. Though both were found guilty, Brande Coy was only found guilty of "misdemeanor" negligent homicide. Brande had been charged with felony manslaughter and deserved a felony conviction and felony level jail time. She left Joan Kappen dying in a ditch for at least 30 minutes before even calling 911. Her depraved indifference was monumental.

Brande Coy received 60 days in jail and one year probation. In a twist, her daughter Emily Coy -- who most thought would walk free -- received a slightly stiffer sentence of 120 days in jail and one year probation. Emily owned the bullmastiff-pit bull mix that horrifically killed Kappen, but was not present when the animal attacked her nor did Emily let the dog run free that morning. Those actions all fell squarely upon her mother Brande. Both Coys will also have to pay $2,500 in fines.

Hans Kappen spoke to THV11.com after the trial. "I am happy with this particular case, that they both got guilty charges," he said. "They both knew this dog was vicious. All the evidence pointed in that direction." He added, "Not only did I lose my wife, but my best friend and also, Arkansas lost a woman that devoted her life to helping others."1 The jury spent over 4 hours deliberating. The judge warned both Coys that an appeal would take longer than serving out their sentences.

fatal dog mauling verdict of joan kappen
10/08/14: Jury is Deliberating Verdict
Closing arguments were given today and the jury began deliberating. Macy Jenkins of THV11.com is live tweeting from the courthouse. As of 8:20 pm Central time Wednesday, there is still no verdict. The jury requested pizza at about 6 pm. "It may be awhile," Jenkins tweeted. The jury may also be sent home and asked to finish tomorrow. On November 21, 2013, a bullmastiff-pit bull mix under the care of Brande Coy horrifically killed Joan Kappen. The dog had a history of aggression.

Highlights of today's trial include Hans Kappen telling prosecution, "It is like she had a grenade in her hand and tossed it out into the yard." The prosecution likened releasing the dog to "running with scissors." Brande knew something bad would happen. Brande Coy testified today summoning poor "medical condition" excuses. She let dog out alone that day, because "I went to check my blood sugar," she said. And, she was "confused" during her testimony today "due to MS."

UPDATE 10:05 pm: Watching the live Twitter feed tonight was intense and emotional. From one moment it was, "Jury finds Emily Coy guilty of unlawful dog attack. Brande Coy guilty of negligent homicide" to a correction in the next moment, "UPDATE: Brande Coy found guilty of *misdemeanor* negligent homicide," dashing all hopes of justice for Joan Kappen and her dear husband Hans. We are shaken and devastated. The jury is now deliberating the sentencing.

fatal dog mauling verdict of joan kappen
fatal dog mauling verdict of joan kappen

10/07/14: Testimony Begins in Dog Mauling Trial
Jurors heard testimony from over 15 people on the opening day of the trial. First responders, police and animal control officers testified along with friends and family members of the victim and the two defendants. Joan Kappen, 75-years old, was attacked and killed by the defendants' bullmastiff-mix dog last November. Only one defendant, Brande Coy, faces a felony manslaughter charge. Her daughter, Emily Coy, was away at the time of the attack. She faces a misdemeanor.

A number of people testified about the history of the dog and the animal's history of biting and aggression. They also testified that the dog was a littermate of a dog that killed a 5-year old boy in Jessieville about 5-months before Kappen was killed. Through this testimony, prosecutors tried to establish negligence and recklessness on the part of the two defendants. The victim's husband, Norbert "Hans" Kappen, plans to do an interview with THV11.com as soon as the trial is finished.

Later this evening, KATV.com reported more information. When Norbert took the stand today, he testified, "I saw a naked body in a ditch." He said he didn't recognize her at first, but then saw a bloody pile of clothes and knew they belonged to his wife. Horrifically, Norbert saw the whole scene after the deadly attack. According to several witnesses, when firefighters arrived, she was still alive, but could not speak, she could only utter noises. She had severe facial trauma.

Hot Springs Village Firefighter Zachary Sykora testified the when EMTS arrived, they cut off her clothes to assess her injuries. Many more serious wounds were found, "Could see muscles, skin gone, major trauma throughout the body," he said. Hot Springs Village Police Sergeant Brian Nickles testified that Brande told him it took about 30 minutes for her to get the dog inside after the attack. She then washed her hair, face, changed clothes and called 911 in no particular order.
Nickles said that Brande stated that after calling 9-1-1, she did not go back outside until paramedics arrived.
Fox16.com captured additional testimony. The doctor who performed the autopsy spoke in detail about Kappen's injuries. Her entire scalp was peeled off in the brutal attack and she was bitten over 100 times. The doctor testified that there were so many bite injuries that he could not count them all. Other witnesses called by prosecution testified that Patrone had bitten them prior to the fatal attack and another stated that the animal had killed a cat and bitten its owner, Emily Coy.

Concerning the littermate issue, a vet testified that aggression in dogs can be hereditary. The vet also testified if the owners knew about this issue, it would be reason to have the dog put down. Emily Coy's father, of course, testified that the dog was obedient, gentle and loyal. Nancy Baumann, one of Kappen's friends who attended the trial today said, "These people who owned it say it was a wonderful dog. Well if it was why did it attack my friend and rip her to pieces?"

10/07/14: Jury Selected in Dog Mauling Trial
Saline County, AR - A jury has been selected in the trial of a mother and daughter in connection to the fatal mauling of a 75-year old woman. Brande Coy is charged with manslaughter and unlawful dog attack. Her daughter, Emily Coy, is charged with unlawful dog attack. On November 21, 2013, a loose bullmastiff-pit bull mix attacked and killed Joan Kappen who was taking her daily walk in Hot Springs Village. A littermate of this dog killed a child less than 10-miles away 5-months earlier.
The criminal trial began Tuesday morning and is ongoing.
DogsBite.org covered this case extensively last year, including the arrest affidavit filed on January 2, 2014, which documented previous attacks by "Patrone" and lurid details of the day of the attack. The attack on Joan lasted up to 30 minutes before Brande placed the 911 emergency call. She remained in the home "washing her face, hair, and changing clothes - until emergency personnel responded on scene about 16 minutes later." All the while, Joan lay mutilated and dying in a ditch.

Norbert told KATV.com, "10 months of misery, and it still is, and unfortunately people are not safe." He reflected about his best friend and the love of his life. "My wife got mauled to death," he said. "There was not a drop of blood left in her, blood was everywhere on the street, I just hope this judge and this jury understands what we are dealing with here." A neighbor emailed DogsBite after the attack and stated that she was only identifiable by her shoes and glasses that lay near by.

Historic Arkansas Criminal Trials

According to our documentation, the criminal case of State v. Emily Coy & Brande Coy is the first manslaughter case in Arkansas against the owners of dogs that fatally attacked a person since June 2002. On October 13, 2001, 50-year old Carolyn Shatswell was mauled to death by three loose pit bulls while taking a walk in Russellville, Arkansas. The owners of the pit bulls, Carl and Kim Smith, were subsequently charged with felony manslaughter in Pope County Circuit Court.

The two ultimately pleaded guilty. Carl Smith was sentenced to 3-years in Arkansas state prison plus a 3-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and court costs. Kim Smith was sentenced to 5-years probation and ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and court costs. Let's hope in 2014, after over a decade of escalating fatalities by well-documented dangerous dog breeds, that this Saline County court is not sympathetic to the depraved indifference of Brande Coy.

Historic Year in Fatal Dog Mauling Trials

Currently, the owners of dogs involved in at least nine fatal dog attacks are facing felony charges across the country, including the 15-year to life prison sentence handed down Friday after the mauling death of Pamela Devitt in Los Angeles County. Alex Donald Jackson was convicted of second-degree murder after his loose pit bulls horrifically killed Devitt. In September, a Michigan judge ordered the owners of fatally attacking cane corsos to stand trial for second-degree murder.
  1. Arkansas: 2013 mauling death of Joan Kappen, manslaughter
  2. California: 2013 mauling death of Pamela Devitt, second-degree murder
  3. California: 2013 mauling death of Claudia Gallardo, involuntary manslaughter
  4. Florida: 2014 mauling death of Javon Dade, Jr., manslaughter
  5. Iowa: 2013 mauling death of Jordyn Arndt, multiple felonies
  6. Michigan: 2014 mauling death of Craig Sytsma, second-degree murder
  7. Mississippi: 2014 mauling death of David Glass Sr., manslaughter
  8. Texas: 2014 mauling death of Christina Bell, felony dog attack
  9. Texas: 2014 mauling death of Betty Clark, felony dog attack
1Qualities these Arkansas jurors chose to ignore.

Related articles:
10/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Antelope Valley Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bulls
09/13/14: Criminal Trial: Couple Charged with Second-Degree Murder After Cane Corsos...
08/02/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Two Cane Corsos Brutally Attack and Kill Jogger in Metamora...
01/03/14: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman, 75, Killed by Bullmastiff in Arkansas Gated Community
06/13/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Child Temporarily Staying with Aunt Killed by Neighbor's Dog

Photos: KATV.com, HotSpringsDaily.com and Facebook

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Friday, October 3, 2014


2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Antelope Valley Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bulls

Pit bull owner Alex Donald Jackson guilty of second-degree murderPit bull owner Alex Donald Jackson guilty of second-degree murder
Pit bull owner Alex Donald Jackson guilty of second-degree murderPit bull owner Alex Donald Jackson guilty of second-degree murderPit bull owner Alex Donald Jackson guilty of second-degree murder
Sentenced to 15-Years
UPDATE 10/03/14: On Friday, Alex Donald Jackson was sentenced to 15-years in state prison for the murder of Pamela Marie Devitt -- the 63-year old woman was mauled to death by four of Jackson's loose pit bulls on May 9, 2013. Devitt suffered catastrophic injuries in the violent attack; she died while being transported to the hospital. In August of this year, a jury found Jackson guilty of second-degree murder in connection to her death and guilty of multiple drug-related felonies.

During the hearing, the victim's husband, Ben Devitt, gave an emotional victim impact statement. Just days before the deadly attack, the couple had been making retirement plans. They planned to relocate to Washington to be closer to family members. "Her story shouldn’t have ended in such a horrific way," he said. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Chung handed down the 15-year sentence and 7-years for the other guilty counts, to run concurrently with the murder term.

08/29/14: Guilty of Second-Degree Murder
Los Angeles, CA - A 31-year old man whose four pit bulls brutally killed a woman last year has been found guilty of second-degree murder. On Friday, the defendant, Alex Donald Jackson, was also found guilty of cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of a controlled substance, psilocybin, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The jury also found that Jackson was armed with a shotgun during the commission of the offense.

On May 9, 2013 Pamela Devitt, 63, was walking near her Littlerock home when she was violently attacked by four pit bulls belonging to Jackson. Devitt suffered catastrophic injuries, including 150 to 200 puncture wounds, her scalp ripped off and one arm dismembered. She died en route to the hospital. County police authorities unleashed a ground and air search effort to find the attacking dogs and offered a $25,000 reward for, "Information leading to the capture of the 4 killer pit bulls."

Jackson was an unsympathetic defendant from the get-go; his dogs were guilty of multiple acts of aggression prior to killing Devitt. These aggressive acts, however, were primarily directed at animals. Jackson had also put a set of four pit bulls down in 2006 after a separate act of animal aggression. His defense attorney tried to portray Jackson as an "animal lover" who rescued strays. This defense strategy clearly fell flat on its nose. Excellent verdict for a repeat vicious dog owner!

Jackson is scheduled to be sentenced on October 3. He faces 24-years to life in state prison.

05/31/13: Repeat Vicious Dog Owner
Within the massive news coverage in the last 48 hours, new information was revealed on Friday at the first court hearing. Alex Jackson previously owned four other violent pit bulls that were destroyed in 2006 after attacking emus. On Friday, Los Angeles County prosecutors said that this previous incident weighed into the second-degree murder charge, along with three incidents since January involving Jackson's "current" crop of pit bulls that savagely killed Pamela Devitt on May 9.

Most members of the public do not know that many owners of these types of dogs are repeat offenders. After the dog attacks (enough times), it's eventually deemed "dangerous" and the owner puts it down to avoid paying the necessary fees and insurance to own a designated "dangerous" dog. The person then buys a new crop of dangerous dogs and the process begins all over again, including attacks on innocent people and pets. This cycle persists without legal intervention.1

Related video

05/30/13: Second-Degree Murder Charges
Los Angeles County prosecutors charged a 29-year old man with murder in connection to the pit bull mauling that killed a 63-year old Antelope Valley woman in early May. Alex Jackson, 29, was arrested at his Littlerock home. His bail is set at over one million dollars -- $1,050,000. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison, according to a district attorney's spokeswoman. Since January, authorities received at least three other reports of Jackson's pit bulls attacking other people.

Pamela Devitt, 63, died en route to the hospital from catastrophic injuries inflicted by the dogs. Coroner officials said they found 150 to 200 puncture wounds and sharp force trauma across her body. Previously, Los Angeles County authorities said Devitt "was dragged 50 yards, scalped and her arm removed." Jackson was also charged with cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, possession for sale of a controlled substance and assault with a deadly weapon.

05/11/13: LA County History Lesson
On Friday, 6abc.com published an article, "Littlerock pit bull attack raises legislation questions," that contained an erroneous statement from Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's Office: "the Littlerock attack is the first fatal pit bull attack in the county's history." According to the Fatal Pit Bull Attacks website -- visually tracked on the California Fatal Pit Bull Maulings Map -- there have been 9 previous pit bull fatalities in this county, one stemming as far back as 1891.2
  1. April 2006, Los Angeles County, CA
    John Doe, 25

    Fatal pit bull attack
  2. November 2005, Los Angeles County, CA
    Mike Rocha Gomez, 86

    Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s)
  3. February 1999, Los Angeles County, CA
    Fily Araujo, < 2

    Fatal pit bull attack
  4. November 1994, Los Angeles County, CA
    Baby Doe Garcia, < 1

    Fatal pack attack involving pit bulls
  5. January 1990, Los Angeles County, CA
    Lilly Marjee, 70

    Fatal pit bull attack
  6. July 1983, Los Angeles County, CA
    Sara Lynn Delance, 5
    Fatal pit bull attack
  7. February 1980, Los Angeles County, CA
    Norman Ben Jr., 3

    Fatal pit bull attack
  8. February 1945, Los Angeles County, CA
    Marguerite Theresa Derdenger, < 2

    Fatal pit bull attack
  9. April 1891, Los Angeles County, CA
    Don Shorb, 7

    Fatal dog attack involving bulldog (pit bull-type)       
05/10/13: Mauling Victim Identified
The victim has been identified as Pamela Devitt, 63-years old, of Littlerock. On Thursday at about 9:30 am, Devitt was savagely attacked by up to four pit bulls she encountered while taking her morning walk. Tony Bell, spokesperson for LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, said Devitt "was dragged 50 yards, scalped and her arm removed. We’ve gotta do something about it; they’re killing machines." Devitt died in an ambulance en route to the hospital. Bell also stated:
Supervisor Antonovich’s office says this incident points out the need to change state law regarding the aggressive dogs to make communities safer.
"To ask state legislature to allow local government to pass their own ordinances, breed specific if you will. We’re not talking about bans necessarily. We’re talking enhanced enforcement on pit bulls and the owners," Bell said.
Currently, California municipalities are prohibited from declaring a specific dog breed "dangerous" or "vicious," as well as banning a dog breed. Municipalities are limited to breed-specific regulation of the spay/neuter status of a dog. The ordinances on the California breed-specific laws page reflect this limitation. Prior to the ability to regulate the spay/neuter status of specific dog breeds (2005), California was a full anti-BSL state, disallowing all forms of breed-specific regulation.3

The six seized pit bulls remain in quarantine. Authorities are conducting DNA tests to determine if the dogs were involved in Devitt's mauling death. Evelina Villa, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Animal Care and Control, said the owner of the pit bulls had previously been cited because at least one of his dogs had attacked a horse. The 29-year old owner, identified as Alex Jackson, was arrested yesterday on unrelated charges for suspicion of cultivating marijuana.

05/09/13: Investigation Continues
Tweets from Captain Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department along with the Palmdale Sherriff's Station Facebook Page help clarify developing events. Eight dogs were taken into custody on the 37000 block of 115th Street. Six of the dogs were pit bulls, the other two were mixed. The owner of the dogs was arrested for cultivation of marijuana. The correct location of where the mauling victim was found is 116th Street East and Avenue S, Littlerock, California.

It is still not known if the seized dogs are responsible for the woman's death.

05/09/13: Dogs Seized from Home
NBC Los Angeles updated their article reporting that at least four dogs were taken from a home near the mauling site after deputies served a search warrant after 5 pm Pacific Time. Women at the home were reportedly "screaming as the dogs were taken away" and two men appeared to be in custody in the back of the patrol car, according to the article. Seizing the dogs4 comes hours after an active ground and air search effort and county authorities offering a $25,000 reward for:
"Information leading to the capture of the 4 killer pit bulls."
05/09/13: Woman Killed by Pit Bulls
Littlerock, CA - In a developing story, a woman was fatally mauled by pit bulls while out for a walk Thursday morning in the Antelope Valley. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and animal control responded to the call of a fatal pit bull attack at about 9:30 am. The victim, a 63-year old Hispanic woman, was out for her morning walk on Avenue S near 110th Street East when the dogs attacked. Deputies shot at the dogs, which sent them scattering into the dessert.

A separate article said a witness saw the attack and began honking her horn to try to scare them away. Instead, the four pit bulls began attacking the witness's car -- specifically trying to puncture the car's tires. County officials continue air and ground searches trying to locate the pit bulls. Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to their capture. The woman suffered severe injuries and died en route to the hospital.
map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: California Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

1These dog owners also put the attacking dog down to evade the "potentially dangerous" designation. Why not? A new crop of pit bulls has no paper trail -- it's a clean slate for new attacks without accountability. It is true in this case that prosecutors are using Jackson's past vicious dog ownership against him. We hope this is a trend that sticks!
2The article also contains erroneous data about the number of pit bulls euthanized in Denver since its 1989 pit bull ban. In 2009, Animal People reported on the effect of breed-specific laws on pit bull euthanasia rates. Denver's annual average is 275 versus Los Angeles with 13,000. This is not rocket science. After a pit bull ban is enacted, the population of pit bulls dramatically decreases over time, thus the pit bull killing rate decreases as well.
3The statewide preemptive anti-BSL measure was passed by the California legislature in 1989.
4The article did not explicitly state that the seized dogs were the culprits.

Related articles: 
04/13/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Stockton Woman Killed by a 'Big, Nasty Pit Bull'
12/14/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Fresno County Man Mauled to Death by Pack of Pit Bulls
12/07/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: San Diego County Woman Killed by Pack of American Bulldogs

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Thursday, October 2, 2014


2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Dog Bite Injuries Contribute to Florida Woman's Death

Three Pit Bulls
Sebring, FL - On April 30, Jessica Dawn Norman, 33-years old of Sebring was found naked and dead in a ditch near the back of her property, according to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. Police and autopsy reports released this week stated she had both alcohol and methamphetamine in her system and puncture wounds on her body consistent with animal bites. Her death was attributed to methamphetamine intoxication with canine bites listed as a contributing factor.
The bite injuries from the dog or dogs occurred before Norman died, according to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office report.
Investigators believe the culprits were three aggressive pit bulls that were known to have been loose nearby on April 28 -- the day Norman was last seen alive. The dogs escaped their kennel and fenced-in enclosure on April 28. Highlands County Animal Control euthanized three pit bulls owned by Lisa Hodge over the course of the investigation. Highlands County Animal Control Officer Ralph Smith said they were the most aggressive dogs he had dealt with in 11-years.

Six weeks earlier, a Highlands County deputy shot and killed Floyd Gene Hodge, the husband of Lisa Hodge, after he stood in his front yard "spraying bullets on four homes with an AK-47 rifle." Neighbors that called in about the shooting activity alerted deputies about the couple's aggressive dogs. Though the dogs were known to be dangerous, the sheriff's office declined to file charges against Hodge, as she kept the dogs in an enclosed space and was unaware they had escaped.
"The Sheriff’s Office spent considerable time investigating whether the dogs contributed to Norman’s death, the reports indicate." - Highlands Today
Investigators tried to prove through DNA evidence that Hodge's dogs were the ones that attacked Norman, but were unable to find sufficient DNA evidence in the samples taken from the dogs and Norman's body wounds and clothing. "The hairs (found on her body) were determined to be canine in origin, but were unable to produce a DNA profile for any comparison," the report said. Sheriff's investigators still concluded that Hodge's three pit bulls inflicted the bite injuries.
pit bull“Based on the fact that Lisa Hodge’s dogs were documented at large on the same date Jessica Norman was last seen alive, acting in what has been described as a ‘very aggressive,’ manner towards several individuals, it is believed that Jessica Norman was attacked by the same dogs. To further substantiate this theory, canine hairs located on the body of Jessica Norman were consistent with the colors of these dogs. Also, the close proximity of where Jessica Norman’s body was located in reference to where Lisa Hodge’s dogs apparently exited the fenced property, supports this theory. - Highlands County Sheriff’s Office report
Contributing Cause of Death

When dog bite injuries contribute to a human death and severe injuries have been inflicted, these deaths are included in DogsBite.org fatality statistics. The last case occurred in 2012 after letter carrier Diane Jansen sustained multiple injuries in a dog attack and simultaneously suffered a stroke. The medical examiner's report listed the cause of death as hemorrhagic stroke due to hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease with dog bites as a contributing factor.

In the 315 fatal dog attacks recorded by DogsBite.org since 2005, less than 1.5% fall into this category. Other cases include the 2011 death of 47-year old Jennie Erquiaga (San Bernardino, CA). The coroner's office confirmed her death was due to "physiologic stress from multiple dog bites" in addition to underlying medical issues. In 2010, 65-year old Ethel Horton (Lee County, SC) suffered severe bite injuries in the attack and underwent a heart attack. She died on the scene.

Excluded from DogsBite.org fatality statistics are deaths resulting from "non bite" injuries.
map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: Florida Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

Related articles:
03/09/14: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Letter Carrier Dies After Pit Bull Attack in Escondido
04/01/08: 2007 Fatal Mauling Investigation of Carshena Benjamin Closes Unresolved

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Friday, September 26, 2014


ArtPrize Exhibit, 'Out of the Blue,' the First Physical Memorial for Fatal Dog Attack Victims

ArtPrize - Out of the BlueArtPrize - Out of the Blue
ArtPrize - Out of the Blue
Out of the Blue
Grand Rapids, MI - Artist Joan Maria Kowal created an entry for the Grand Rapids ArtPrize 2014 competition titled, "Out of the Blue." It is the nation's first physical memorial for victims of fatal dog attacks. Nearly 30 differently decorated crosses in multiple shades of blue each represent a person killed by a dog. She titled the entry, Out of the Blue, because that is how fatal dog attacks often occur. Kowal hopes to raise awareness about these victims and to prevent future tragedies.
"Putting faces on it is powerful. It brings up something that people don't always think about." - Christa Beukema, Out of the Blue observer, WZZM13.com
The row of crosses at Calder Plaza represent individuals killed by dogs so far in 2014. As one might expect, the majority of crosses represent people mauled to death by pit bulls. As of September 26, pit bulls are responsible for 72% of the total recorded fatal dog attacks this year. Last year, pit bulls were responsible for 78%. Two fatal dog mauling victims from Michigan, Craig Sytsma (Metamora Township) and Holden Garrison (Davisburg) are represented in the exhibit.

Viewers are encouraged to express their sympathy, respect and support for the victims and their families by leaving teddy bears, flowers or memorial decorations in the designated heart-shaped memorial space. "These people need love," said Kowal. "We cannot keep forgetting about these people." Kowal said that a pastor will be at the memorial on Saturday at 6 pm to lead a prayer for dog attack victims. On Sunday, a trio of misguided pit bull owners plan to protest the memorial.1

There are 1,537 works of art in this year's ArtPrize contest. The event runs from September 24 to October 12. For 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan is dedicated to the urban exhibit; the event is free and open to the public. Two grand prizes worth $400,000 and eight category awards worth $160,000 are awarded, half determined by public vote and the other half by a jury of art experts. On the opening day, ArtPrize viewers cast nearly 15,000 votes.
View the official website for Out of the Blue, ArtPrize 2014, at CanineVictimsMemorial.com.

ArtPrize - Out of the BlueArtPrize - Out of the Blue
ArtPrize - Out of the Blue
1The photograph of these women "gloating" with their pit bulls at the exhibit is extremely disturbing. Narcipitism, however, is a well-documented characteristic amongst pit bull owners.

Related articles:
09/13/14: Criminal Trial: Couple Charged with Second-Degree Murder After Cane Corsos...
08/02/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Two Cane Corsos Brutally Attack and Kill Jogger in Metamora...
06/11/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Dog Kills Baby in Michigan; Father Had to 'Pry Open'...
05/06/14: Video: Columnist Barbara Kay on How to Know You're a Pit Bull 'Fanatic'
10/24/13: Kaylie's Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Dangerous Dogs Approaches

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