Thursday, August 25, 2016
Fatal Pit Bull Attack in Penobscot County, Maine
Hunter Bragg, 7, was killed by a pit bull while visiting the dog owner's home in Corinna.
Medical Examiner's Report
UPDATE 08/25/16: Local newspapers obtained a copy of the state medical examiner’s report for 7-year old Hunter Bragg. On June 4, Hunter was fatally attacked in the throat and face by a male pit bull while visiting his father at the home of Gary Merchant Jr. at 207 Moody’s Mill Road in Corinna. Hunter’s father, Jason Bragg, was living in a camper on Merchant’s property, states the report. Bragg was still trying to revive his son through CPR when first responders arrived.
Hunter died of “sharp and blunt force wounds of the neck” and “multiple blunt and sharp force injuries of [his] head,” states the medical examiner’s report. Injuries to his head and face included “sharp and blunt force wounds” inflicted on the boy’s face and scalp. The pit bull repeatedly attacked the boy until it executed the killing bite. Our hearts go out to Hunter’s father, who will live with witnessing the horrific destruction this pit bull inflicted on his son for the rest of his life.
The 1.5-year old male pit bull, named Koda, belonged to Merchant. The dog previously belonged to the daughter of Merchant’s wife since a puppy. Amber, who lives in Vermont, returned the pit bull to the Merchants in early 2016 after it attacked another dog in her home multiple times. Koda was the product of an intrafamily backyard pit bull breeding operation. Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said the "thorough investigation" into the boy's mauling death "remains active."
06/11/16: Bite Report Obtained
The Morning Sentinel obtained the dog bite report. Information in the report verifies all that we have written about since this fatality was first reported and more. The dog's name is indeed "Koda," as stated on the bite report, and is described as a brindle and white male pit bull, specifically as a "brindle with white face." The age of the dog is 1.5 years old, states the bite report. The dog we originally posted on June 5 along side Amber's comments is the killer.
The bite report contains additional information, including that the dog fatally bit Hunter in the throat, the boy had been left unattended at the time, and that Koda had previously "attacked [Amber's] other dog several times." The Sentinel also interviewed animal control officer Charles Gould who said the pit bull was chained in the yard when he arrived on scene. Gould said there were adults in the yard at the time of the attack, but he was unsure if they witnessed the attack.
Intrafamily Backyard Pit Bull Breeding Operation
To help readers navigate this "complex" case, we created a chronology of the screenshots captured while researching the pit bull involved in the mauling death of Hunter Bragg. What we discovered while researching was a classic intrafamily backyard pit bull breeding operation. In this case, there is also a strong possibility that the litter that produced Koda in October 2014 also bore two pit bulls that were legally declared vicious before the age of 1. Genetics is real and it matters.
In 2013, two bullmastiff-pit bull mix littermates killed two different people less than 10 miles apart within a 5-month period in Central Arkansas.1In the chronology, we call to attention the widespread false and dangerous belief that dog aggression never translates into human aggression. Koda did not only have aggression toward male dogs when smelling a female in heat (the classic reason to neuter male dogs). Koda had breed-specific aggression, which is why Bandit was killed. Interdog aggression, generally, means aggression toward dogs, not killing another dog, which pit bulls were purpose-bred to do.
- Oct. 13, 2014 - Amber's mother Stacey shows her the new puppy that is later named "Koda." Danielle, who is Stacey's half sister, also tells Amber, "Stacey pups are perfect for you." Stacey's Facebook page had many litters dating back years.
- Oct. 13, 2014 - Amber is also shown backside. Some of the main players have just been introduced. Danielle, a pit bull owner and breeder, is part of this intrafamily pit bull breeding operation. One of her dogs/offspring was possibly part of this breeding.
- Nov. 16, 2014 - Stacey posts a status update about her female pit bull, Star, that broke free of its chain. The family laughs at this behavior. Stacey adds: "Ya our male pit has broken a lot of chains... we finally had to buy a tow cable. Haha."
- Nov. 17, 2014 - Amber posts a photo of her pit bull puppy, Koda, that is a week away from being released by the intrafamily breeders. Amber states, "Koda bout 1 more week cant wait" [sic] then tags her husband. Koda is likely 7-weeks old now.
- Aug. 13, 2015 - Photo showing Koda at less than 1 year old. That's a large pit bull for this age. Danielle specializes in breeding larger pit bulls. In one comment she writes that Koda "looks like his momma" -- which implies one of her own stock.
- Aug. 24, 2015 - Amber's brother Andrew posts three updates after his two pit bulls are declared vicious by the Village of Morrisville, Vermont. His dogs likely came from the October litter too, making them less than a year old and already gaining a vicious designation. So far, potentially, there is one killer and two vicious dogs from the same litter. Anti-social attitudes and denial of responsibility stand out as well, particularly by aunt Danielle who replies, "want aunti and Lokie to come show 'em what a mean motherfuckin dog looks like?" [sic] They are proud of their aggressive pit bulls.
- Sep. 17 2015 - Amber posts about Koda attacking her beagle, named Bandit. It takes a baseball bat to break up the fight and requires a $353 vet bill. She admits that Koda has already been bred once before the age of 1 year old and that his aggression began earlier. "He used to do it before he even had sex," she states.
- Nov. 18, 2015 - Photo showing Koda just over 1 year old. This is one month after the nonfatal attack on Bandit and a month before Bandit is killed. We also provided this in the chronology because it is the main image that we point to for Koda.
- Dec. 26, 2015 - On Christmas Day, Bandit is killed. Amber posts, "I lost a special part of my life last night … I love you to pieces Bandit baby." She does not explain how and asks friends to "PM me" in comments. We believe Koda was the culprit.
- Jan. 6, 2016 - Ten days later, Amber states that she is getting rid of Koda. "I can no longer keep him around I am proud of the good boy he has become (minus the bad side he does have)." This clearly regards his serious dog-aggression.
- Jan. 7, 2016 - The next day Amber posts a status update stating, "it breaks my heart to see how much can change in one year! RIP Bandit!" The Timehop photo shows all three of her dogs sitting on the couch together one year earlier.
- Feb. 5, 2016 - Koda is first seen (as an adult dog) on Stacey's page. Koda is next seen on March 25 in a wire crate kennel. Certainly by March 25, Koda has been returned to the Merchants. It is unknown if there were additional rehoming plans.
- Apr. 15, 2016 - On U.S. Tax Day, Stacey is seen selling pit bull puppies on her Facebook page. Stacey writes, "They for sale." When asked, "How much are you asking for?" Stacey replies: "200." Her husband Gary Merchant Jr. is seen as well.
- May 12, 2016 - Amber and her brother are "excited" as the buyer delivery date for this latest round of pit bull puppies gets closer. "Just can't wait," Andrew says (whose two other pit bulls were declared vicious). Amber says, "Me either!!!"
- May 21, 2016 - Amber shows off one of her two new pit bull puppies. On June 1, both are seen in her car, just three days before Hunter is killed by Koda. It must be expressed that Amber did not just want one new pit bull, she wanted two.
- Jun. 4, 2016 - While 7-year old Hunter Bragg is visiting the Merchant's home at 207 Moody's Mill Road in Corinna, Koda executes the killing bite. Koda attacks Hunter in the throat, killing him. It is unknown if the dog was chained at the time.
- Jun. 5, 2016 - Stacey posts about her guilt after Hunter's death. "The guilt that is building up inside" is heart wrenching, she writes in part. "I don't know how to say I am sorry to my entire family..." The next day, she privatizes her Facebook page.
- Jun. 5, 2016 - Another Bragg family member posts about the loss of Hunter to his public Facebook page. When asked in comments, "What happened?" He states: "Our cousin Stacey's dog attacked him." He adds the dog was a "pit bull."
- Jun. 5, 2016 - Amber posts about her guilt in a status update, "All I can do is feel guilt! Everything bad that has happened seems to have came back to me, wether it was nobodys fault I still feel responsible! I wish I could turn back time…" [sic]
- Jun. 5, 2016 - Amber starts publicly broadcasting on the WABI Facebook thread that she formerly owned the dog that killed Hunter and that she rehomed the pit bull-boxer mix because the dog "did not get along with other small male dogs."
06/09/16: More Information Released
Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton released new information about the pit bull involved in the mauling death of 7-year old Hunter Bragg on June 4. As suspected, the pit bull had originated from the Merchant home at 207 Moody's Mill Road and was recently returned to them for reasons Morton has still not released. "That is a major part of the investigation," Morton said. "Who returned it, when was it returned, where had it been and was there any issues while it was gone."
The Bangor Daily News reports that under state kennel rules, Gary Merchant's ownership of 8 dogs qualifies him as a kennel, but he is not required to register with the town. If more than one puppy is sold in less than a year’s time, Merchant would be required to register as a vendor, according to state law. Serena Bemis-Goodall, the town manager of Corinna, said Merchant does not have business license registered with the town and does not know if he is a dog breeder.
“A person may not advertise for sale, sell or exchange for value more than one cat or dog under the age of 6 months in a 12-month period unless that person has a valid animal shelter, kennel, breeding kennel or pet shop license or a valid vendor’s license." - See full state requirementsThe Morning Sentinel reports additional details. According to Animal Control Officer Charles Gould, the pit bull that killed Hunter was named Dakota -- the suspected dog, named "Koda," may be a shortened version of this name. Early on, a daughter of Merchant named Amber claimed it was her male, 1.5 year old pit bull that killed the boy in public Facebook comments. Amber's own Facebook page show's that Koda was part of an October 2014 litter from the Merchant family.
Sheriff Morton said that he would not provide any details about why the dog had recently been returned to Merchant after he had owned it previously, reports The Sentinel. Morton also would not comment on who else had owned the dog. "We do have some of those answers, but we’re not prepared to release them," Morton said. Other key information that has not been released is the color-type of the dog (another way to verify Koda) and if the dog was tethered when it attacked.
Key Tips Sent In By Reader
To summarize events so far, details about the dog that attacked and killed Hunter Bragg are generally lining up with Amber's claim of being the former owner of Koda and that he was the aggressor in the attack. Amber is the daughter of Stacey Merchant -- who is married to Gary Merchant Jr. (from this point forward, simply called "the Merchants"). Amber did return Koda to the Merchants after we believe the dog killed her beagle, named Bandit, on Christmas Day 2015.
A week later, Amber posted that she could no longer keep the dog. Koda begins appearing on the Merchants' Facebook page in early February.On Tuesday, a reader sent in tips that strengthen this scenario further. In September 2015, just a few months before Bandit was killed, Koda viciously attacked Bandit. The fight had to be broken up with a baseball bat and cost $353 in veterinarian bills. In the post, Amber admits that by the age of 1 year old, Koda had already had been bred once and that his dog aggression started even earlier. Amber's veterinarian knows about the September attack, possibly the Christmas one too.
The Sentinel is trying to obtain the bite report about the fatal dog attack that has been completed by animal control. The report includes the name, age and breed of the dog; the name of the victim; and a summary of the attack, along with other information such as whether the dog was up to date on shots and who its veterinarian was, accord to animal control. The last part is essential -- the veterinarian -- which should lead to the veterinarian records and answer critical questions.
As of this update, Amber has privatized her Facebook page. See more discussion in comments.
06/06/16: Child Identified by Sheriff
The 7-year old boy struck down by a pit bull has been identified as Hunter Bragg of Bangor. The adult male pit bull that killed him has been euthanized, Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said at a news conference Monday. On Saturday, Hunter was playing in the yard with two other children at the home of Gary Merchant Jr. at 207 Moody's Mill Road when the attack occurred. The child's father, Jason Bragg, and Merchant were at the residence at the time, Morton said.
The pit bull belongs to the Merchant family. Town Manager Serena Bemis-Goodall said that Merchant has eight dogs on his property. All were registered except for the pit bull that killed Hunter. Bemis-Goodall told the Portland Press Herald, “My understanding is that (Merchant) took the dog in for someone else just within the last couple of months. It was not registered, otherwise we would have known about it.” Thus matching the account of the dog's previous owner.
The "breeders" from our earlier coverage are Gary and Stacey Merchant, husband and wife, who reside at 207 Moody's Mill Road.The Press Herald also reports that Patrick Faucher, the president of the board of directors of the Maine Animal Control Association, said that it has "probably been years" since a dog bite fatality occurred in Maine. However, the 2011 mauling death of 7-month old Annabelle Mitchell received extensive media coverage. The child's mother was also charged with a Class D misdemeanor for endangering the life of a child. Faucher apparently was unaware of this local fatal dog attack.
Sheriff Morton stated that additional details of the attack are "sensitive" and are not being released at this time. The incident remains an "active investigation," Sheriff Morton said. The Press Herald also spoke to Joshua Eldgridge, who grew up near the Merchant home. Eldgridge said the home has a number of dogs, including a pit bull that he has seen outside. Eldgridge said he heard there was a chance that another child at the home witnessed the attack, which deeply upset him.
If the dog had ever attacked before, or if it was tethered at the time, are being withheld pending the results of the investigation. - MPDN.net2The Bangor Daily News adds that in 2012 Hunter lost his mother. The boy's aunt, Jennifer Mcclure, set up a GoFundMe page to help Hunter's family with funeral expenses. She states on the page, "He was taken from everyone at such a young age, but we all know that his mom is now with him and looking after him up in Heaven." Bragg was a student at the Down East Community School in Bangor. School officials were notified of his death by the sheriff's office, Morton said.
Sheriff Morton said he did not know if Merchant was breeding pit bulls or even the relationship between Merchant and Bragg, reports the Daily News. He would not answer further questions about the investigation, including if the pit bull was part of any previous incidents involving law enforcement -- citing "this is a sensitive, complicated investigation." The breeding evidence, however, was clear on Stacey Merchant's Facebook page, which has since been privatized.
Of the screenshots we did take of Stacey's Facebook page -- our main focus was Koda, not the other litters posted to her page -- the last round of pit bull puppies by the Merchants was produced in late March or early April and ready for delivery in mid May. Amber Morin took two of these puppies, despite having "returned" Koda to them in January due to dog-aggression; the pit bull that would later kill Hunter. The household was not limited to the breeding of pit bulls either.3
06/05/16: Child Was Visiting
In an email Sunday evening to the Portland Press Herald, Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said that more details will be released Monday. “I can appreciate the interest in this incident; however, it is a complex incident and we believe in providing accurate information,” Morton wrote. His answer came in response to questions from reporters about the dog's breed and the child's relationship to the dog. “We plan on putting out additional information tomorrow,” Morton wrote.
"He is not a student from our district. He was there visiting a student from our district (when the dog attacked him)." - Interim superintendent Raymond FreveRaymond Freve, interim superintendent of Regional School Unit 19, which includes the towns of Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport and several others, said Sunday evening the victim did not attend classes in his district. The student the 7-year old boy was visiting attends Corinna Elementary School, Freve said. Grief counselors will be available on Monday at the elementary school for students or staff members who might need to talk to them, reports the Press Herald.
06/05/16: Boy Dies in Dog Attack
Corinna, ME - On Saturday, deputies responded to a dog attack at a home on Moody's Mills Road in Corinna at 5:15 pm, states a release issued Saturday night by Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton. When deputies arrived at the scene, they found the 7-year old boy had died as a result of the attack. No one else was injured, and the dog was put down, states the release. Additional details were not provided, including the victim's name. An investigation into the attack is ongoing.
The Dog's Former Owner
Earlier today, on the WABI TV Facebook thread, the former owner of the suspected dog, Amber Morin, spoke freely. "Hey i can tell you right now that the dog was my dog before i rehomed it, i have a 2 year old boy and he never showed agression to any person, i will also inform you the boy he killed was my cousin!" [sic] she wrote. The dog is a brown and white pit bull-mix, named Koda. In January of this year, Amber gave the dog back to its breeders due to it being dog-aggressive.
Amber, the breeders and the boy appear to be related. The boy may have been visiting or staying at the breeders' home when the deadly attack occurred. The breeders' had a new round of pit bull puppies as recently as April. On a November 2014 post, they talk about how their dogs frequently break their chains. "Ya our male pit has broken a lot of chains...we finally had to buy a tow cable haha." [sic] Koda appears in Facebook photos on the breeders' page starting on February 5, 2016.
There were other dogs at the breeders' home, but given Amber's comments and open guilt, it seems likely that Koda was the attacker. Another family member also called the dog a pit bull and named the breeders, "Our cousin Stacy's dog attacked him." Amber's Facebook page shows many photos of Koda growing up with her son. Koda was 1.5 years old, when the breed reaches sexual maturity and aggression often first appears. However, Koda was already dog-aggressive.
Commenter Lisa pointed out the Freudian slip Amber made above: "most harmful big baby ever."
2Barbara Cariddi, "June 6: Dog Attack that Killed 7-Year-Old Boy Remains Under Investigation," Maine Public Broadcasting, June 6, 2016 (www.mpbc.net)
3There are/were multiple dog breeds in the Merchant household, each showing litters on Stacey's Facebook page. There was at least one kitten litter too. Our hearts go out to Hunter's family members and relatives. There is, however, an issue with animal breeding at the household of 207 Moody's Mill Road that should be addressed, since it is convincing clear at this stage that one of their "breedings" produced a pit bull that killed a boy. Whether authorities can require a kennel license or mandate that animals in that household be spay or neutered is unknown.
07/16/11: 2011 Dog Bite Fatality: Frankfort Girl Mauled to Death by Pet Rottweiler
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| 6/05/2016 3:37 PM |
Former owner (summarized): "Not the breed! Not the breed! though it was ATTACKING other dogs, is SHOWED NO SIGNS OF AGGRESSION! Not the breed! Not the breed!"
Doesn't she know how stupid she sounds?
| 6/05/2016 4:55 PM |
As usual, uneducated pit owners can't understand that a dog that is willing to break all the social rules of the dog world to kill another dog will be willing to do that same to another type of social partner, a human. There is no such thing as a pit bull that is ONLY 'dog aggressive'.
| 6/05/2016 5:39 PM |
I wonder if the person leaving the comment on the Facebook page of when the killer puppy was first born might want to rethink it
"Kathy LaHaye Paris Awwe can I be your grandchild so I can have one ? LOL
October 13, 2014 at 3:04pm · "
From puppy to child killer in a pretty short time. Its dog aggression turned on early as well since it had already been given back to its breeder.
| 6/05/2016 5:43 PM |
Wow. I frequently see this breed "up for adoption" with a sad look on it's face and people remarking, "oh, the little sweetie". Yet people get rid of these dogs because they become aggressive and unmanageable. It's horrifying to think this type of dog is pawned off on unsuspecting people as being "a family dog".
| 6/05/2016 6:09 PM |
Oh no. Sometimes there are routes you just should not go down. Morin was waiting on a NEW puppy from the same breeder. At June 1, the pups were nearly ready to be released. I guess "spin the dial" and see if you can get a new pit bull from the same breeders (probably breeding with the same dogs) that does not have aggression.
Also, breeder was selling for $200, because the world needs more pit bulls… SMH
| 6/05/2016 7:03 PM |
Not aggressive, not vicious?
Then let's put them all to sleep, and you can tell yourselves that your pits aren't dead.
Kinder than the dogs being beaten and shot repeatedly to stop the attack.
| 6/05/2016 8:11 PM |
“He is not a student from our district,” Freve said. “He was there visiting a student from our district (when the dog attacked him).”
| 6/05/2016 8:13 PM |
It's all laid out in the Facebook posts. It looks like her parents had an accidental breeding between Koda, a pit/Boxer mix, and Zena, a Rottweiler/Shepherd mix. They also had an accidental breeding of their Dachshunds. Amber posted mourning the death of her Beagle at one point before giving up Koda, and when someone asked what happened and if it was old age, she said it wasn't but she would private message the person her answer. I think Koda killed her Beagle. When she mentioned the possibility of adopting a pit mix, someone posted warning her that there were too many stories of tragedies with pits, especially with kids. She argued back that her parents and brother had pits and they were great with kids. So, so sad that more people have been deceived into thinking these are safe dogs just because they're sweet most of the time or they've had positive experiences with most of them.
| 6/05/2016 10:23 PM |
So much information right there that could've helped prevent this boy's death!
On one hand it is deception that brings pits into homes and neighborhoods
On the other hand there is a tolerance to violence that surrounds pitbulls and other bully breeds. People witness these dogs attack and kill and they accept it and they become numb to the violence and signs that something bad is going to happen.
Back when, if a dog bit or killed it was a bad dog and it got euthanized. Now a days people worship their pets and ignore the health and safety of their families and communities! It's just gross!!!
| 6/06/2016 12:51 AM |
This is amber morin! For me to read this is outragous! Until everyone knows the whole story and situation then maybe they shouldnt speak about it! Me and my family are trying to grieve the loss of a 7 year old child and people seem to care more about the dog. And i can tell you right now you have the entire story twisted! Im not going into detail because i already know how twisted everything has become and i dont need it worse. I am not only grieving my family but my dog (the dog is minor due to the situation) but either way both is a loss. Nobody expected that would even happen, the dog as ive said before never showed aggression, always lived with kids and never had a problem. He lived with multiple dogs and the only dog he had a problem with was his "brother" vet said it was a testosterone thing due to neither being fixed! And for everyones information, "Stacy" is NOT my cousin and is also NOT the breeder of the dog! I got koda from somebody else as a puppy! You can all say what you want but instead of being concered about a dog who is no longer with us, you should be concered about the family of the child!
| 6/06/2016 9:40 AM |
Amber, we have published your very own public words. We understand that your family is grieving. The reason why, at this stage, the public cannot grieve the loss of this boy is because the sheriff has deliberately chosen NOT to identify him. The sheriff has deliberately chosen NOT to identify the dog breed as well. When authorities choose such an opaque route, this nonprofit organization, which tracks all U.S. dog bite fatalities and has since 2007, will research and show our findings to the public. No one is blaming anyone here, however, most readers of this website do not believe pit bull type dogs are safe with children or animals. As far as Stacy goes, the same photo of you accepting the puppy Koda were on both of your Facebook pages. Stacey had many photos of that October 2014 litter too. Front and back, showing you the puppy.
| 6/06/2016 10:40 AM |
Amber, I hope you're having that breeder contact all the other littermates' owners to let them know this is a bad batch of pit bulls. You wouldn't want to be guiltier still, would you?
| 6/06/2016 1:32 PM |
Well let's look at some dog fatality statistics. While pitbulls only account for 6.6% of the u.s. dog population, they account for 82% of fatalities causes by dogs. 41% of those victims were children (mostly boys) under the age of nine.
Now let's look at the circumstances, re-homed due to aggressive behavior toward other dogs. Not neutered..so... high hormone levels increasing his aggressive behavior.
What you mean is no one HOPED this would happen. Expected..that's a stretch. One would be a fool to think this couldn't happen.
We are all heartbroken for this poor little man and his family. Which is a factor that pushes us to assess this situation for what it is. In HOPES to prevent this from happening in the future. Eyes wide open! This is not just a tragedy happening by chance. Statistics support this sad trend.
| 6/06/2016 5:01 PM |
It had no problems? It was DOG AGGRESSIVE
Nearly every single pit bull or mix that has mauled or attacked a child is dog aggressive
It is a red light for TROUBLE and danger
So the breeders resold a known dangerous dog?
This is what is going on when the breeders run the show. Everyone else is at their mercy, and they are not merciful
| 6/06/2016 5:06 PM |
Why am I thinking this pit killed another dog and it wasn't reported?
This killing is why we need required reporting of ALL dog attacks and dog aggression too, and dangerous dog hearings on dogs that are aggressive to other animals
Because people then get killed if things are not handled right.
Also why are the police going on about what school the child attended? Why does it matter? Does anyone know?
I hope this doesn't get swept under the rug as an "accident" and the breeders go right back to breeding and selling aggressive dogs.
| 6/06/2016 6:57 PM |
I guess the former owner feels she has something to prove as she posted within the last 11 hours what appears to be the killing dog licking a baby on her Facebook page. What she proves is what most people here know- they are a ticking time bomb.
How could anyone post that photo after the dog killed a 7 year old?
| 6/06/2016 7:18 PM |
And then there is this post that speaks volumes as to who this dog really was.
The two photos The killing dog as a puppy and all grown up and apparently having flexed his genetics titled "Then and Now" and this with the photos-
January 6 ·
As much as I dislike him right now.. he sure has grown to be a big man and although I can no longer keep him around I am proud of the good boy he has become (minus the bad side he does have)
| 6/06/2016 8:08 PM |
PutMeInCharge, I believe because she is hoping to prove that Koda was only known as a gentle soul, at least with people. Authorities are still investigating this area.
Noting her language on the WABI Facebook thread, "never showed aggression to any person" and he "did not get along with other small male dogs." Morin then claims in the message thread here, "the only dog he had a problem with was his "brother"." The problem with that statement is that Koda's male littermate was just as large as he was.
The description of "SMALL MALE DOGS" would instead be her beloved male beagle that was killed in such a way that she would only "PM" this information to people, according to her Facebook page. Just after the beagle's death -- the beagle was killed on Christmas Day, December 25, 2015 -- she posted the following message about Koda (on Jan. 6) then got rid of the dog. "As much as I dislike him right now.. he sure has grown to be a big man and although I can no longer keep him around I am proud of the good old boy he has become (minus the bad side he does have)."
The next day, she posts a Timehop photo of all 3 of her dogs (Aussi, pit bull and beagle) and states "I really wish I could go back to this day and fix the mistakes we made ... I loved all my dogs and it breaks my heart to see how much can change in one year! R.I.P bandit! Till we meet again baby boy." By that time, the beagle named Bandit was dead and Koda was being booted from the house. The days of all 3 dogs sitting happily together on a couch are long gone.
It must all be stressed that she recently acquired two new pit bull/mix puppies from the same breeders -- about May 20. So after Hunter's death, she will be raising two pit bulls in a home with her young son.
| 6/06/2016 8:36 PM |
Praying for the children who have to pay for the mistakes (repeated mistakes) of their parents and adults who are supposed to be protecting them from harm.
When it happens again, will Amber be completely shocked? Will it ever sink in?
Hey Amber!, step away from the pitbull puppies!!!!! Remember that one time...???
| 6/06/2016 9:15 PM |
Social workers, where the heck are you?
Where is anyone that cares about children around there?
TICKING TIME BOMB
Where are the sane adults that need to protect the lives of children?
| 6/06/2016 9:16 PM |
"Morton said he did not know if Merchant was a pit bull breeder, or the relationship between Merchant and Bragg. He declined to answer questions about the investigation — including if the dog was involved in any prior incidents involving law enforcement — saying, “this is a sensitive, complicated investigation."
| 6/06/2016 11:46 PM |
PutMeInCharge41Day and truthbirdtoo, thanks for the detective work. I think you guys are right -- Koda killed the beagle. It makes you wonder, with how seldom pit bull attacks on strangers' dogs get reported, how many pit bulls kill their owner's other dogs and no one else ever finds out about it. There's such a culture of "protecting the reputation of the breed" among pit bull owners that they're all too willing to lie to do so.
| 6/07/2016 11:17 AM |
Yes, it reminds me of Betty Todd. She died trying to save her grandchildren from the family pitbull. The pitbull had killed the family's other dog prior to the attack on Betty.
Why do people keep dogs who attack and kill? It's unreasonable!
| 6/07/2016 12:48 PM |
More Information -- A user sent in some key tips
On September 17, 2015, Amber Morin (Amber Bragg-Merchant) posted that Koda attacked Bandit, her beloved beagle: "Bandit and koda got into a fight. 353$ later," she wrote. Amber's mother is Stacey Merchant who resides at the home where Hunter was killed and where multiple breedings have occurred. In the post, Stacey warns Amber, "I told you yesterday they will fight if there is a female in heat around... that's why they should be separated."
Haha. Koda the one who started it and molly tried to stop them by putting a bat in between them to break them up and he started biting the bat
September 17, 2015 at 2:11pm
Stacey A. Merchant
I figured Koda started he... now that he has had sex he feels more dominate
September 17, 2015 at 2:13pm
Yes except he used to do it even before he had sex.
September 17, 2015 at 2:15pm
On Christmas Day, 3 months later, we believe that Koda attacked and killed Bandit. Apparently, that was the final straw, so Amber then returned Koda to her mother sometime in January 2016 (Koda begins appearing on Stacey's page on February 5).
The newest pit bull litter at the Merchant household, ready for delivery in mid May with puppies about 8-weeks of age, likely began in January. Amber eventually took two and her brother (or half-brother) Andrew Bragg was also going to take at least one, according to his May 12 comment on Stacey's page. "Just can't wait," he states. Amber states, "Me either!!!!!"
Back in August 2015, the Town of Morrison declared both of Andrew's pit bulls vicious, Axle and Griz. "So according to the town of Morrisville my puppies are now fucking deamed by law vicious!" he wrote. Amber chimes into that post too, "Haha if [your neighbor] saw koda theyd be shittin bricks." So frankly the ownership of vicious dogs, young vicious dogs at that, was not a new concept to these family members. (Andrew seems to still own Axle, along with any pit bull puppies he received in May).
Less than a month later, Koda attacks Bandit causing over $300 in vet bills. This was not the first or last time that dog would show serious dog-aggression. "Yes except he used to do it even before he had sex," Amber wrote. After Koda killed Bandit on Christmas Day, it is unknown if there were more attacks on dogs or other animals. We just know the dog killed Hunter on June 4. Our guess is Koda was tethered at the time. The Merchant household had eight dogs; and Koda needed to be separated from them.
Family members knew that Koda was a vicious dog that could not be around other animals. Normal pet owners do not have to use a baseball bat to break up a dog fight. Nor would they accept a lethal attack on another dog as merely "testosterone." Sadly, due to the deep-seated myth -- bolstered by pit bull owners, humane groups, vets and more -- that dog aggression is strictly limited to dogs or other animals and in no way translates into human aggression, children like Hunter die every year.
It was a preventable death in a family that also clearly has other hardships.
| 6/07/2016 12:56 PM |
The user that sent in the above key tips also had a message to share with Amber. We are posting on the person's behalf.
"Amber, you can help prevent this from happening to another family, you know. Just tell the story. Tell people what your "never aggressive to humans before, so good with children," pit bull did. He didn't do it because he was raised badly. He didn't do it because you TAUGHT him to be vicious or to attack people -- no one here thinks that. We think you were misled and that you made a mistake; we even think you should have known better than to keep this kind of dog, especially around children, but we do not, absolutely do NOT, think you wanted this to happen, that you abused your dog(s), that you trained them to kill, that you fought them.
You know who does think that? You know who will and does blame you personally? All the people insisting that pit bulls are "just like any other dog," and "It's all how you raise them." Those people blame you, Amber. They think you taught your dog to kill people; they think you must have abused him, or that you fought him. They'll claim you're a drug dealer, that you must be violent people, that there's no other reason why the dog would have attacked. Those people, the pit bull advocates, are ready and willing to throw you and your family under the bus in order to preserve their misguided love for killer dogs. It's not us. We understand that you were misled; they think you're to blame. We understand that several hundred years of selective breeding made these dogs unpredictable and inclined to commit horrendous violence without warning, no matter how well-raised or well-trained they are; they claim you must have spent your time beating your pets and training them to attack innocent animals and people. When Hunter's death is brought up in the media, those people will dismiss you and your family as "people who abused their dogs," and claim you were all "too stupid to properly raise and socialize them," and that you bought a pit bull because you're "wannabe gangsters who just wanted to look tough." They will -- and do -- blame you personally for this, because you "raised your dog wrong."
Or they'll blame Hunter, and imply that he deserved to die in this horrible way, that he must have been provoking or beating the dog. They will say that without the slightest hint of shame. They'll imply that death is an appropriate punishment for a child who touched a dog or waved a stick near a dog or ran past a dog.
Think about that, Amber. And do something about it. Get rid of your new pit bulls. You should know that most pit bulls are very sweet puppies until they "turn on" when they're a year or two old (the same age as Koda was), which means you have no way of knowing if your current two puppies will also be aggressive until then. Get rid of them, and tell people what happened. Tell them how you did everything right but your pit bull still killed your sweet Bandit and then killed your adorable nephew, a little boy who deserved a life. Tell them what your family is going through. Tell them that it's NOT "all how you raise them," but that it is unalterable genetic instinct, and no amount of love or affection or training can stop genetics. Tell them that "dog aggression" and "human aggression" are often the same thing, and that if a dog will kill another dog it's absolutely possible it will seriously, in this case, fatally attack a human, too. Please, do something to stop this from happening to another family -- you can make a difference. You can save another child's life. Everyone here would be happy to help you get started. Lots of people reading here are also victims of vicious pit bull attacks; they can probably understand, more than anyone else (certainly more than the pit bull apologists, who think you all deserved this, can), what you and your family are going through."
| 6/07/2016 12:57 PM |
We are concerned about the poor child and his father, as well as preventing future victims. If there is anything specific that can be done to help the family, post it. We already have the go fund me, and people will support it. We are a group of victims/victims families, and understand the tragic loss. You don't have to agree with everything we say to get support here.
I know that you had no idea that Koda would hurt anything when you got him. I saw pics where you let your adorable baby hug him and get licked right in the face. Of course you didn't think the dog was aggressive to people! I'm sure you think back and say "that could have been my kid!". You're obviously a loving mom and did remove the danger as soon as you saw it.
If you want to correct anything that's not right, post it. I know this site is happy to hear your info and edit accordingly.
The reason we talk about the background is to show how these tragedies happen. Sadly, this is a perfect example of how people get pits and think they are great family dogs, and find out too late they are deadly. No one brings a pit around their children thinking something bad is going to happen. We aim to change that, so no more tragedies occur.
You have a gorgeous child, and you're a dedicated mom. I pray for your family's safety and well being.
| 6/07/2016 4:40 PM |
Amber, why not admit your incredible lack of knowledge at this point and help other people understand these dogs are NOT pets and save some lives? Or maybe you're going to go full retar, er, full nutter instead-wouldn't be the first time. You know this tragic death was ENTIRELY foreseeable and preventable. The information IS out there for anyone who takes three minutes on the internet to find it.
| 6/07/2016 9:37 PM |
"Back in August 2015, the Town of Morrison declared both of Andrew's pit bulls vicious, Axle and Griz. "So according to the town of Morrisville my puppies are now fucking deamed by law vicious!" he wrote. Amber chimes into that post too, "Haha if [your neighbor] saw koda theyd be shittin bricks." So frankly the ownership of vicious dogs, young vicious dogs at that, was not a new concept to these family members. (Andrew seems to still own Axle, along with any pit bull puppies he received in May)."
I feel for ANY and all children that live in or near these households. These people could not care less about their own kids or anyone else's.
| 6/07/2016 10:32 PM |
Did anyone happen to run across this article? This also occurred in Corinna. (It's a small town!) I wonder if it's related somehow. It would seem the tiny town is overrun with aggressive pitbulls. The full video is on youtube. (It does show a dog being shot, just as an FYI). What do you all think? I know my heart breaks for that sweet boy whose life was lost.
| 6/08/2016 12:04 AM |
K-Hart -- this was indeed specified in a recent Portland Press Herald report. The 2014 attack in the area is unrelated.
"The attack is not related to a 2014 group of pit bulls in Corinna that attacked and injured another dog on Nokomis Road, she said. But the town’s animal control officer, Charles Gould, was called to the Moody’s Mills Road property last year for a noise complaint related to the dogs, Bemis-Goodall said."
| 6/08/2016 12:49 AM |
These are moderated comments. We very much appreciate our longtime commenters and new ones who have legitimate questions or correspondences. People like "Bobbie Leach" who recently wrote in however, claiming Amber's newly acquired puppies are "mini dashunds" will not be tolerated. While it is true that Leach could be technically correct in that the very "newest" of "newest" of all litters in the Merchant household -- a household more accurately described as a puppy mill -- was a batch of "mini dashunds," that obviously is not what we are talking about here. We have screenshots from direct family members to back up each of our points too; straight from the horse's mouth. Leach would do well to review our many screenshots then tell us again that Amber's new dogs are in fact mini dashunds or that Andrew's post, "So according to the town of Morrisville my puppies are now fucking deamed by law vicious!" actually means something different than his pit bulls being declared vicious by the town.
As Leach types commonly break down (they start their comment with a question, then pile on accusations, then launch into their pit bull advocacy, which completely unwinds them) Leach did this as well. Leach ended the last submitted comment with, "but it's not all of them!" [referring to pit bulls] "I hate birds because they are not only nasty but are mean! Got chased by a turkey that was at my moms feeder and I was shocked when it flew! Who knew turkeys could fly!" We make no further comment on Leach.
| 6/08/2016 12:41 PM |
amberm52214 -- That could be the case for the October 2014 litter, but is certainly not true in the more recent litter where Stacey is the seller. There were many photos -- many photos on Stacey's Facebook page for the October 2014 litter, at different ages too. One week old, a few weeks old, right up until they were time to be given away. There was every indication, and then some, it was a litter on her property. Why the need to privatize her pages? Is there a continued need to hide who actually did produce the October 2014 litter? It takes two to tango, a dam and a sire, which certainly can be owned by different parties. Also, usually, when dogs are returned by buyers (or recipients), they are returned to the breeder. Koda went back to 207 Moody's Mill Road.
| 6/08/2016 8:45 PM |
So Koda the pit bull attacked Bandit the beagle in September so badly a baseball bat needed to break it up and save Bandit the beagle's life
But instead of doing what needed to be done, Koda was kept and allowed to kill Bandit in December.
He had already demonstrated he wanted to. So they let him do it.
That is terrible animal cruelty, horrible, and now because there still was no responsibility taken, a child is killed.
| 6/08/2016 8:50 PM |
I also take great issue with the veterinarian involved in this
They knew a pit bull had nearly killed a beagle that they treated in their practice
But they did not tell this girl to euthanize this vicious dog and the vet did not report this violent attack to anyone? Just stitch up the beagle and send the bill?
There are breakdowns all over the place here by people in positions of authority. If these breakdowns hadn't occurred, then that boy might be alive today.
| 6/09/2016 12:40 AM |
As I read through the comments in the conversation between this girl and her breeder mother, it is all too apparent.
First, the dog Koda was being bred. Perhaps after the noise complaints at mom breeder's house, they decided they better spread out their breeding stock to other locations like their daughter's, but the dog was continuing to be bred.
Instead of doing the obvious and euthanizing an obviously dangerously aggressive dog (where on earth can you have a dog that attacks other dogs, and be able to keep them away from other dogs, and the KIDS that inevitably get attacked?)
instead the dog was shipped back to the mother because it is BREEDING STOCK, used to produce litters of puppies sold for cash. Ni issues with breeding known aggressive dogs to produce aggressive litters.
No care for other dogs, no care for kids, This is business.
The worst of it is that the breeder mother told the girl to keep the pit bull separate from other dogs because it would kill her other dogs (WHAT ABOUT THE GRANDCHILDREN GGRANDMA?), but the girl just went ahead and put that pit bull back with the beagle to kill the poor little dog.
And after that? No feelings, no cares. Just shipped back to mom breeder to keep on breeding dangerous dogs. And now the stories, the excuses, the coverups, no care at all for anyone else.
| 6/09/2016 6:21 AM |
Thank you for that comment, Joelande. Here is the veterinarian's oath, which obligates them to protect animal welfare, prevent animal suffering, and promote public health.
"Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence."
The entire veterinarian profession is should be blushing with shame at how miserably they are failing in this pit bull issue -- how they have made their own oath into a blatant and shameless lie.
| 6/09/2016 10:43 AM |
Sheriff: Dog in Corinna attack recently sent back to homeowner
"That is a major part of the investigation who returned it, when was it returned, where had it been and was there any issues while it was gone," Morton said of the dog, which since has been euthanized.
| 6/09/2016 10:51 AM |
However, if more than one puppy is sold in less than a year’s time, Merchant would be required to register as a vendor, according to state law.
“A person may not advertise for sale, sell or exchange for value more than one cat or dog under the age of 6 months in a 12-month period unless that person has a valid animal shelter, kennel, breeding kennel or pet shop license or a valid vendor’s license,” Maine rules regarding the sale of cats and dogs indicate.
Bemis-Goodall said Merchant has no business license registered with the town, and she does not know if he is a dog breeder.
| 6/09/2016 11:09 AM |
Oh boy, this is really complicated. However, "Koda" could certainly be "Dakota" too. 1.5 years old.
An adult male pit bull that attacked and killed a 7-year-old boy in Corinna last week belonged to the daughter of the man whose care the dog was in and had come to live with him about two months ago, according to the town’s animal control officer.
I love how they just keep the mother's name out of it all.
| 6/10/2016 11:18 AM |
Well, there's official confirmation that Koda/Coda/Dakota was very dog aggressive and "had attacked the previous owner's dog several times." Why was he allowed anywhere near other dogs and innocent children?
| 6/11/2016 10:57 AM |
I absolutely can not even imagine the mindset of a person who would CONDONE one of their dogs killing another of their pets. Much less returning it to the breeder so can not only live but propagate.
This dog needed a one way trip to the vet when it attacked Bandit the first time.
No normal person would give a dog a pass like that. Only a nutter.
| 6/12/2016 4:03 PM |
Good job untangling all that! I looked at Danielle's and Gary's Facebook pages a bit, too, and had not been surprised to see Gary posting typical pit owner memes about pits not being vicious dogs. They all really drink the Kool-Aid.
Danielle also very openly spoke about deliberately breeding her pit Tia, and she and Andrew talked about another pit, Loki, who apparently not everyone was fond of (but they loved him).
When the story originally broke and before Stacey's page became unavailable, I read a lot on there, and it sounded as if the breeding of Koda and Zena (the Rottweiler/Shepherd mix) was accidental, as well as the breeding of her mini Dachshunds. The dogs were "caught" within a day or two of each other. There certainly is enough history to show that other breedings weren't accidental and no one was particularly motivated to sterilize their dogs. What a sad mess.