Thursday, May 4, 2017
Pit Bull Had Attacked Mother Two Weeks Earlier
Robert Laughton and his pit bull that mauled his mother twice in Roseville, Michigan.
Felony Charges Authorized
Roseville, MI - On April 30, a family pit bull brutal attacked a couple in their home in the 30000 block of Normal Street. Suzette Laughton, 52, was initially listed in critical condition and her boyfriend, Michael Mager, 51, was airlifted to a hospital due to his extreme injuries. The dog belongs to Suzette's son, Robert Laughton, 29. Two weeks earlier, his dog attacked Suzette as well, requiring 30 stitches. At that time, Robert was issued a ticket for harboring a vicious dog.
Robert lives with the couple, but was not home during the recent attack. After the April 19 attack, he home-quarantined the dog for 10 days. One day later, after Suzette released the dog from its kennel, it viciously attacked her again. When Michael intervened to help her, the dog turned on him, inflicting injuries so severe he was left unconscious. First responders initially feared he would lose both arms. On May 4, prosecutors authorized two felony charges against Robert Laughton.
"I grew up with dogs and love them dearly. But as owners we bear complete responsibility for the training and behavior of our animals, especially regarding their interaction with the humans they encounter.
With these powerful breeds, that responsibility is particularly acute. A single aggressive episode can result in life-ending tragedy. Our office shows zero tolerance to owners who fail to safeguard their animals and the people around them from vicious aggression." - Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, May 4, 2017
Why This Case is Unusual
Only a few states have a meaningful state felony dog attack law, Michigan is one of them. Under Michigan law, if a dog owner has knowledge of his dog's vicious propensities and it attacks again, seriously injuring or killing a person, the owner is subject to a felony. Laughton was charged with two felony counts because two victims were seriously injured. Prosecutors authorized these charges knowing that both victims, one being Laughton's mother, will not agree with the charges.
Due to the "intrafamily" nature of this series of pit bull maulings -- the mother agreed to give the dog another chance after the first attack, Laughton alleges -- we did not believe prosecutors would authorize these felony charges. It is a bold and courageous move by prosecutor Eric Smith (Kudos!). Unfortunately Laughton, who was given a citation previously for having an unlicensed dog and harboring a vicious animal, remains in total denial about dog ownership responsibility.
Headline Pit Bull Mauling
On Monday and Tuesday, we watched as headlines about the Roseville attack dominated the Detroit region. According to news reports, officers met Suzette bloodied outside of her home. She told police her son's pit bull had attacked her boyfriend, who was still inside the house. Police were forced to taser the pit bull to incapacitate it in order to reach the boyfriend who was, "unconscious on the living room floor, suffering from horrific bites to his arms and face," according to police.
The dog suspected in the attack was present and was "extremely aggressive not allowing emergency personnel into the home to extricate the victim," police said in a release. - Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, May 2, 2017By early Tuesday, reports of Michael's injuries were so severe that we added him to our Dog Bite Fatality Watch List. While he was only on the list for a few hours, that action kicked off a deeper review of the situation by us. The first stop was the homeowner's property records to identify the victims and the second was the dog owner's Facebook page. When we landed on Laughton's page, he was publicly and gravely minimizing the victims' injuries and denying any responsibility.
Laughton had posted about "our recent fiasco" and claimed the media got the story wrong. When asked by a friend, "What happened?" He wrote, "My dog bit my mom." No mention of Michael's injuries, the airlift or this being the second time his pit bull had viciously attacked his mother. Laughton called the media "animals" and told friends to watch for an upcoming article by The Detroit News, which would undoubtedly carry his "blameless" version of the story, and it did.
In a headline titled, "Dog owner defends self in mauling: It’s not my fault," Laughton tries to explain why he should not be blamed after his vicious dog attacked a second time seriously injuring two people. "I didn’t do anything wrong," Laughton told The Detroit News. "It’s not my fault. My dog was loved. He had toys. I did not abuse my dog. I didn’t make my dog vicious. My dog did what he did. He’s paid for it," he said. As if the dog being euthanized alleviates Laughton from all liability?
Laughton said that city officials recommended he put the dog down after the April 19 attack. But, he and his mother did not want to pay the $200 euthanasia fee and decided to give the pit bull another chance, he said. Now, after thousands of dollars in medical procedures, requiring "teams of surgeons," along with felony charges, the $200 fee looks like a bargain. Laughton also blamed the second attack on a "neurological trigger," a term coined by whitewasher James Crosby.
The Detroit News video interview is a dead ringer for a pit bull owner's total and complete denial after his dog viciously attacked a second time. According to his sister, Tiffany Laughton, the same pit bull attacked her fiancé's dog in January. So technically, the April 30 attack is the third attack by the dog -- three attacks in a 4-month period. Yet, according to Laughton's obtuse logic, he's not responsible for any of them. The trusted pit bull mantra, "Blame the Owner" suddenly evaporates.
"I didn't make my dog vicious. It's not like I trained my dog to fight. I didn't do any of that. He was a family pet." - Pit bull owner Robert Laughton"My dog bit my mom and her boyfriend. He's paid for it now," Laughton states. Quite literally, he has no comprehension of civil or criminal liability after a "series" of vicious attacks. The victims in this case are family members, but they just as easily could have been a child or friend visiting the home. The two felony charges signal that in Macomb County all victims are equal. Just because "only your family members" were mauled twice by the dog, does not mean you are off the hook.
The Family Pit Bulls
The male pit bull, named Bruce, is reportedly 1.5 years old. As we have stated many times on this website, pit bulls typically begin to show destructive behavior traits, such as the "hold and shake" bite style and animal aggression, when sexual maturity is reached at about 1.5 years old. This fact is well known among many animal control officers and humane groups, but is rarely shared with the public. This is not true of all pit bulls, but it is a rule of thumb for when these traits appear.
Laughton had purchased the pit bull from a Craigslist advertisement a year earlier, according to a news release issued prosecutors. Furthermore, the dog was scheduled for euthanasia on May 1, states the release. Apparently, during the home-quarantine period between April 19 and April 29, Laughton and his mother changed their minds about euthanasia, Laughton alleges, but failed to tell animal control officials. Then one day later, the dog unleashed its second violent attack.
The Laughtons also have another pit bull in their home -- ClickonDetroit captured it in recent footage. That dog was not involved in the recent attack, but was taken into custody by county animal control after the April 30 attack. So, when the couple returns home after being hospitalized, there will presumably still be a pit bull in the family's home. Property records show that one of these pit bulls was registered under a different breed name, a "Lab/Mix," on April 26, 2017.
Son, Mother Appear in Court
On the same day prosecutors authorized felony charges against Robert Laughton, he and his mother appeared in Roseville District Court, reports the Detroit Free Press. Robert was arraigned on the charges and given a $5,000 surety bond. He is allowed to keep living with his mother, but cannot purchase another animal until the court says so. Suzette told the court that she wants her son to "stay with me" and that her boyfriend "doesn't want anything to happen to Robert."
Meanwhile over on Robert's Facebook page, he states, "Well let the fun begin I suppose." Sadly, many commenters on his post have no comprehension of civil or criminal liability after a "series" of vicious attacks either. One writes, "He feels terrible" and "He has been through enough." As if that would be sufficient after a drunk driver seriously injured two people? Again, that $200 euthanasia fee sure was a bargain. Now add defense attorney fees to the family's mounting medical bills.
08/25/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull that Killed Boy Had a History of 'Dog Aggression'
06/30/16: Criminal Trial: Detroit Pit Bull Owner Convicted on Two Counts of Manslaughter
03/17/16: Thank You Letter: Experienced Dog Trainer Shares Attack Story & Professional...
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| 5/05/2017 1:51 PM |
"The patient has some cuts on his ear and a couple minor abrasions! We better airlift him!" Said no paramedic, ever. The way he downplays the injuries his wretched weaponized dog inflicted is CRAZY.
Is he trying to be a cliché pit owner? He's either developmentally and intellectually challenged, or he's mind blowingly ignorant and callous. I'm inclined to believe the latter.
Rationality and compassion does not exist in the pit bull owner's mind.
Colleen, you and Jeff Borchardt should seriously put together a book with just pit owner/advocate quotes in it. Big shiny pages of pit pictures and their owner's psychotic quotes on one side, and photos of injuries and victims on the other. Title it "Reality Bites." You can use the Rhodes scholar Laughton in there. "Roger had some cuts on his ear." Good grief!!
| 5/06/2017 3:43 AM |
You just can't make this stuff up. Note that while they balked at the $200 euthanasia fee, he has tattoos. Those aren't cheap.
Also, note that the date the other dog was registered was 4/26/17, though it was vaccinated about a month earlier. And Is it just me, or does that dog look like it could be related to Bruce?
| 5/06/2017 10:42 AM |
EyesOpened, were a little stunned that dog licensing information was listed on the property record at all! It is listed under her name and she does have a dog like this. The age and coloring certainly do indicate the two dogs are related (both picked up on Craigslist?). The timing of it all is interesting. But on April 19, the main cause of concern was "Bruce" for attacking the woman, so likely only that dog was implicated as being unregistered by the city. She may have decided (or been warned) to become compliant with the other dog after that attack too. As for lying about the breed, calling it a Lab/Mix? Well, this is a family of pit bull owners, so we expect them to be dishonest, evasive and irresponsible. That $200 euthanasia fee sure was a bargain!
| 5/06/2017 6:39 PM |
The son looks about like some of my neighbors - I call them the "more tattoos than teeth bunch." I posted this website in Nextdoor and got out of next door - I had heard from this crowd before. So, since I wasn't there to take their abuse....they poisoned my dogs, two of which are therapy dogs. I say are because thankfully these toothless wonders were too stupid to do it right. My Dalmatian got ahold of it, had some seizures, threw up. Had my two little dogs gotten hold of it, they would have died. I effin' hate pit bull owners that won't open their eyes to the truth.
| 5/07/2017 3:19 AM |
Yep, I would guess the quick registration and deceptive breed name were in response to Bruce's first attack as an attempt to not draw any more attention to the fact they owned an aggressive pit bull. Wouldn't want to harm the reputation of the breed and contribute to that bad rap!
The Facebook comments as always are fascinating. Sigh. At least no one died (Robert's two kids pictured on the couch with Bruce may not have fared as well as the adults in an attack).
K-Hart, the book isn't a bad idea. :) A psychologist really should study these issues; they're a gold mine.
Rbentrdr, I'm so glad your dogs survived! What a horrible thing for these sickos to do! :( On another note, more tattoos than teeth is hilarious.
| 5/09/2017 2:18 AM |
What kind of delusion does it take to give a "second chance" to a dog that gives you 30 stitches!?!?! This obviously wasn't a normal dog nip or even a normal dog bite, where a "second chance" may be warranted depending on the situation. 30 stitches is a dog going for a kill, and they gave the dog a "second chance" to achieve it. The mother and/or boyfriend should have had the brains to kick the dog out of their house after the first attack!
| 5/09/2017 2:44 AM |
All that we know about the first attack (April 19) from media reports is that the dog was in a crate and the mother was attempting to feed it -- AKA she had to open the crate door to perform this. The "family" pit bull mangled her hand, requiring 30 stitches. After the second attack, she expressed to police, "Suzette Laughton stressed to detectives that Bruce was not being provoked or agitated prior to the attack. Nor was food out to trigger any food-aggression in the animal." So obviously, they blamed the first attack on "food-aggression" and of course they failed to compute the "dog-aggression" that occurred in January.
| 5/10/2017 4:29 PM |
Doesn't the son feel any care or concern for his mother or her boyfriend? It would kill me to know that my dog hurt anyone let alone,my mother �� how can a person be so cold about this !
| 5/25/2017 11:25 AM |
Sorry, but only stupid people who want to feel tough own pit bulls, rottweilers, etc. They are willfully in denial of the facts about those aggressive breeds and always claim that none of the dangers could ever apply to them and their precious snowflake.
Good job in pointing out that the worst of them are like this a**hole, Laughton, who not only typically claim it's an "owner issue" rather than a breed issue, they then claim that they could never have foreseen an attack coming because they were a "good owner". Ugh. Since we can't euthanize the stupid owners along with their vicious dogs, there should be additional laws prohibiting them from ever owning any dogs again.