Settlement Reached in Dog Mauling Death; Lawsuit Against Former Dog Warden and Montgomery County to Close

$3.5 Million Settlement Expected to be Approved

settlement reached klonda richey fatal dog mauling
On February 7, 2014 Klonda Richey was killed by her neighbor's two dogs in Dayton.

Settlement Reached
Dayton, OH - Six years after 57-year old Klonda Richey was mauled to death by her neighbor's two mastiff-mixes, and five years after her estate sued Montgomery County and Mark Kumpf, the former Dog Warden, a $3.5 million settlement is expected to be approved by the county. A commission vote Tuesday will avoid a jury trial. We were first alerted to this potential settlement back in January, when parties said at that time, "they have reached an agreement in principle."

The chronology of events leading up to her death and the basis of the lawsuit (Kumpf's recklessness and/or willful failure to act) are best spelled out in the Fourth Amended Complaint filed by Klonda's estate in December 2018. The Plaintiff's List of Trial Exhibits filed by attorneys last September shows the evidence that was expected to be presented to a jury. Also, a 2016 episode of Fear Thy Neighbor, titled "Hell Hounds," provides a dramatized version of events.

Since 2015, when Klonda's estate filed the lawsuit, there have been two major turning points in the legal case. The 2016 ruling from the Second District Ohio Court of Appeals, which allowed the case to proceed against Kumpf and Montgomery County (Schneider v. Kumpf, 2016, Ohio), and the August 2018 revelation that Kumpf and his department had destroyed key evidence. Also at that time, defense claimed that Klonda had "teased or tormented" the dogs that killed her.

Fourth Amended Complaint Introduction

1. This case seeks justice for Klonda Richey, who was killed on February 7, 2014 by dangerous dogs owned by her neighbors. For many months, Klonda complained to Defendant Mark Kumpf that the dogs were an imminent threat to her safety.

2. Plaintiff herein contends that Defendant Mark Kumpf's reckless and/or willful decision to take no action on any of her numerous complaints and reckless and/or willful disregard for his statutory duties subject him to liability therefore. Plaintiff further contends that Defendant Mark Kumpf and/or Defendant Board of County Commissioners of Montgomery County, Ohio, by and through the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, willfully and with malicious purpose destroyed highly relevant public records with the intent to disrupt Plaintiff's existing lawsuit against Defendant Mark Kumpf. Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Board of County Commissioners of Montgomery County, Ohio, by and through the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, is liable pursuant to ORC § 149.351(B)(2) because Plaintiff has been aggrieved by the destruction of public records in violation of ORC § 149.38 (C)(3).

On February 7, 2014, Klonda was found naked and ravaged to death in front of her home by a passerby. It was a grisly scene. Prior to the mauling, Klonda had filed 13 complaints with Montgomery County Animal Resource Center (ARC) and made 46 calls to Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center related to her neighbor's dogs. Klonda had also installed security cameras and a tall two-tiered wooden fence to protect herself and her cats from these dogs.

That was not all either. About 16 months before her death, Richey filed a civil stalking protection order against the owner of the two dogs, Andrew Nason. The order was denied by Montgomery County Magistrate Kristi Wuebben in February 2013. Richey appealed the decision. Judge Michael Krumholtz denied her appeal the following month. At the time of her death, Klonda was an employee of the Montgomery County Job & Family Services Division and had been for 25 years.

Kumpf was quick to claim Klonda's horrific death was a "tragic accident" and that there was "nothing foreseeable or doable" to prevent this type of occurrence, despite his failure to act upon his statutory duties after her numerous complaints. One week after Klonda was killed by the dogs, Kumpf even orchestrated a "PR" video with her grieving sister and brother to show how noble his department was by caring for Klonda's many cats -- the video outraged victims' advocates.

Kumf also claimed, "none of these cats are facing euthanasia." Despite his public comments, several of Klonda's cats were euthanized by ARC.

Seen in the video are Klonda's siblings, Ted Richey and Linda Roach, who will now divide over $2 million of the settlement. The remaining $1.5 million goes to the counsel of record for over five years for attorneys' fees and filings, including their winning argument to the Second District Ohio Court of Appeals. The appellate court's decision not only allowed Klonda's case to proceed against Kumpf and Montgomery County, it clarified dog bite liability elements within Ohio law.1

Part of the settlement includes damages for the pain and suffering that Klonda endured before she died. "The evidence is clear that Ms. Richey experienced prolonged conscious pain and suffering prior to her death," said Chris Jenkins, an attorney representing her estate. Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger ruled her cause of death as blood loss due to extensive soft tissue trauma. Harshbarger described her injuries as "one of the worst that we've ever seen."

"Coroner Harshbarger further states that her injuries 'clearly happened while she was still alive,' and that the fatal attack occurred over 'a significant a [sic] period of time that she was aware and cognizant of what was happening.' - Fourth Amended Complaint

Harshbarger also stated there was no way to determine how many times the dogs had bitten Klonda. "We can’t quantify it because they overlap," Harshbarger said. "There’s no way to put a range on it." Plaintiff's intended to show the jury 159 photographs taken during the post-mortem examination of her body; 404 photographs taken at the crime scene on February 7, another 18 photographs taken on February 8, and drawings of the attack scene done by Dayton Police.

"Money Pit" Employee

For entirely separate reasons, Kumpf was fired by the county in December 2018. Under his leadership in Montgomery County, four people were mauled to death by dogs between 2012 and 2017 and multiple lawsuits were filed against Kumpf and the county. Despite all of the pending ligation, Kumpf was hired by Detroit last fall to lead their struggling animal control division in Wayne County, a county that has undergone 10 fatal dog maulings since 2005. Maybe a good fit?

Finally, how much money are Montgomery County taxpayers on the hook for in the settlement with Klonda's estate? Only a $500,000 deductible. Insurance pays the rest. However, the county shelled out at least $325,000 for outside council to defend Kumpf and the county in the case. The county also had to pay outside council $40,000 to settle an employment dispute with Kumpf after the county fired him. The pending lawsuit involves the missing body of a dog named "Dyson."

Unforgettable Letter

Prior to the dogs killing Klonda, she had written a letter to Nason asking him to sell his home to her. The letter states in part, "You paid 8k. I'll pay $3900 cash -- don't really want the house, but do want the trauma to my cats and fear to end."2 Nason never agreed to her offer. In the weeks following her death, just after Nason and Custer hurriedly moved out of the home, the property at 35 East Bruce Avenue caught fire under suspicious circumstances. It was later ruled arson.

I have 24 years of my life and memories here before the deaths of my Dad, Mother, husband. I am not leaving.

You have little time here with no emotional attachment. House is a trainwreck; no idea why you chose it when so many better ones are on the market w/few minor repairs necessary.

You paid 8k. I'll pay $3900 cash -- don't really want the house, but do want the trauma to my cats and fear to end. (They only go to that house because empty so long).

If you want to hurt me, shoot or stab me. Leave cats in peace. - Klonda Richey

Andrew Nason and Julie Custer, the owners of the dogs, each eventually pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors. The two were sentenced from 90 to 150 days in jail and hundreds of hours of community service. A year earlier, a grand jury failed to return an indictment on felony charges. In April 2017, in unrelated charges, Nason was found guilty of felony assault for causing severe head injuries to his girlfriend's daughter in 2012. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

While serving out his five-year sentence at London Correctional, Dayton Daily News reported that Nason had participated in "hundreds of hours in the Pets Uniting People Program (PUPP)." A flyer about the prison program said it was a two-year apprentice program that offers a certificate from the Ohio Department of Labor that certifies the graduate as a journeyman animal trainer. So after Nason gets out of prison, he can continue raising and training vicious dogs and get paid for it.3

Summary

The county settling this case is not an admission of guilt. It simply means the county could have faced a higher judgment had a jury determined the case. The downside of reaching a settlement is that the case is never heard before a judge or jury. A court cannot find for the plaintiff and the case cannot create precedent or affect public policy. At least in this case, the appellate ruling clarified that a Dog Warden in Ohio can be the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal mauling.

Klonda never had any justice in the years leading up to her preventable death or during the six years that followed. This settlement is the very first time Klonda has "ever" received any justice, aside from the fact that this justice will not include a court victory for her. The price she paid for this justice was her life. Klonda died alone in freezing snow while two mastiff-type dogs ripped her apart. She died screaming beneath Nason's window, who claimed he never heard a sound.

All of these years later, it is still painful to watch the "PR" video arranged by Kumpf and the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center after her death. Klonda's sister and brother, who were still traumatized and in shock after her brutal death, had no idea they were being exploited by the county so that Kumpf & Company could appear as "heroes" for Klonda's cats, having no responsibility in her brutal death.4 We hope Klonda's siblings now finally have some closure.


While browsing Google Street view, we discovered that Nason's former home at 35 East Bruce Avenue is now gone. All that remains is an empty lot of grass that looks freshly mowed. A solemn reminder of all that Klonda had ever hoped for -- freedom from Nason's two vicious dogs.

Mark Kumpf claimed her death was not foreseeable

Three days after her mauling death, Mark Kumpf claimed her death was "not foreseeable."

klonda richey's fence line

Prior to her death, Klonda installed a two-tiered fence to protect herself and her many cats.

empty lot on bruce avenue

In 2019, an empty lot is seen at 35 East Bruce Ave., where Nason's vicious dogs once lived.

1As many readers know, it is very difficult to sue government bodies due to sovereign immunity. One way to pierce the veil of sovereign immunity is to show that the government body (Montgomery County Dog Warden Mark Kumpf and ARC) had a "special duty" to Klonda. The appellate court did not state that Kumpf had a special duty, but that "we conclude that [Klonda's estate] is entitled to conduct discovery on the issue of whether Kumpf owed Richey a duty, in order to give the trial court a full factual basis for ruling on the issue." The court also ruled that the trial court erred in "dismissing the complaint based on the fact that any claims or damages caused by a dog are restricted to owners, keepers, or harborers of the dog" in Ohio.
2This particular neighborhood in Dayton was hit hard by the recession, but it was starting to recover in 2014.
3The first article was titled, "Man whose dogs mauled Dayton woman to death works with pets in prison." Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck said of Nason’s work with the PUPP program: “I think this is absolutely ridiculous. What is the Ohio Department of Corrections thinking? Which then begs the question, do they have any clue about his past?" After 24 hours, the title of the article changed to, "Man whose dogs mauled Dayton woman to death no longer works with pets in prison" and explained that "Nason has not been active with the program since October. No reason was provided why Nason was allowed to enroll or why his participation ended."
4Just over one year after this "PR" video is made, Klonda's estate will sue Mark Kumpf, the Director of Montgomery County Animal Resource Center and the Board of County Commissioners of Montgomery County. We transcribed part of this video used to exploit Klonda's siblings and to hopefully ward off a lawsuit that resulted anyway.
pit bullMark Kumpf: "Folks have asked us how they can help these cats, and again, with the Richey's family approval, folks may make a donation here at the Animal Resource Center, we are accepting things like dry and can cat food, cat litter, cat toys, and those are also helping with the cats that are still being cared for at Klonda's other residence. If folks want to make a donation to our Tiny Tim fund, those funds are being used to provide medical treatment and vaccinations, things that the cats will need, again, one sister Linda is taking one of them back to Florida and we made sure that she'll be able to take Antoinette home with her when she goes home."
pit bullARC Host: "The family just gave you kudos, not only you but your whole staff, on how they have been treated since they've been here. Are you surprised?"
pit bullMark Kumpf: "This is a situation that has been very stressful on everyone and the family has been happy at the shelter. They have been very concerned with our well being. They've spoken to staff here and they, as they said, it's been like family. We're doing the best we can under the circumstances. We want to make sure that everybody understands that the focus here is making sure these cats go to good homes. We need folks to come to adopt."

Related articles:
01/15/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Pit Bull Kills 4-Month Old Baby Girl in Dayton, Ohio
09/11/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Type Dogs Attack, Strip Naked and Kill Dayton Woman

Related documents:
09/10/19: Plaintiff's List of Trial Exhibits (Schneider v. Kumpf, No. 2015 CV 00730)
12/18/18: Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint (Schneider v. Kumpf, No. 2015 CV 00730)
07/29/16: Schneider v. Kumpf (Court of Appeals of Ohio, 2016, No. 26955)
02/11/14: List of Complaints Leading up to the Fatal Dog Mauling of Klonda Richey

Victim Shares Video After Violent Facial Pit Bull Mauling

Pit Bull Trait Discussion: Unprovoked, Disinhibited Aggression

After a violent facial pit bull mauling, the victim shared a thank you video with her supporters.


DogsBite.org - On March 20, a fundraiser organized by Tregonie Mount began for an adult female who suffered a violent facial pit bull mauling. Currently, the photograph at the top of the GoFundMe is exceptionally graphic. Please do not click on the GoFundMe link if you are unprepared to see these graphic facial injuries. On March 21, the victim posted a thank you video. "Thank you for the prayers and willingness to give and help me in this time of need," she wrote.

According to the GoFundMe, Latoya, who is a flight attendant for American Airlines, suffered a broken leg in December due to air turbulence mid flight. "One of the most scariest things to happen to someone flying," states Mount. While recovering from the broken leg injury, she was attacked in the face by a pit bull while on her way to rehabilitation. "Words cannot describe the emotionally traumatic, physically devastating and spiritually testing time it is for her," states Mount.

No information was provided about the owner of the dog or if the victim knew the dog. So far, we have seen no media reports about this attack.

"Today was the first of many surgeries she will need on the road to recovery," Mount continues. "The deep wounds from the dog bite also carry a high rate risk of infection. So it's very important that medical treatment is sought out in a timely fashion to lower her risk during this horrifying world crisis (coronavirus)." Mount also explains the other devastating reality Latoya faces. "Not one family member has been able to be with her during this, due to hospitals being on full lock down."

Mount states that Latoya will need, "primary reconstructive surgery, secondary reconstructive, cartilage grafting, skin grafting, fat grafting, flap reconstruction, debulking and laser resurfacing." Mount also asks donors to come together: "I ask that you show her how the world can come together to uplift those in the community which is in need. Let's not allow her to fall into depression," but be a beacon of hope for the next person who suffers "this unfortunate incident."

Disproportionate Response

Even the most minor facial attacks inflicted by a dog can cause serious disfigurement, such as the partial loss of an eyelid, nose or lip. Yet, this is still an "inhibited" aggressive response by the dog. The difference with pit bulls is that they often exhibit sudden disinhibited aggression, which is always a disproportionate response to the stimuli. Thus, the routine act of an owner bending down to kiss his pit bull can result in sudden, unbridled aggression causing catastrophic injury.

This type of unprovoked and disinhibited aggression is also called "impulsive aggression." As animal behaviorist Alexandra Semyonova states in her 2006 analytical paper, "It's also not realistic to pretend that impulsive aggression is not pathological. The environments (the fighting pit, the baited bull, the escaping slave) for which these behaviors were selected as an adaptive response are so extreme that in fact there is no appropriate context for these behaviors in normal life."

"There is such a thing as normal aggression in animals (and dogs). Maternal aggression, territorial aggression, predatory behavior, for example, all depend on different neuronal and hormonal mechanisms, and they are all normal coping responses in a particular environment. These behaviors in the dog have been accepted by humans in the process of domestication, as long as the behaviors can be foreseen. Abnormal disinhibited behavior is not functional, and it is unpredictable. Although high arousal and sudden attack can be functional in certain environments, this behavior is pathological in a safer environment, where a high level of arousal and aggressivity aren’t necessary and only lead to unnecessary attacks and injuries." - Alexandra Semyonova

Earlier this month, we linked to the video of the vicious facial attack of 92-year old Norma Graves, a resident at the Village Green Alzheimer's Care Home, by a rescue pit bull. One sees that this pit bull does offer signals of "discomfort" that many adults would recognize as a warning, but Graves had no ability to recognize this. However, nothing in her behavior (petting the dog) warranted the extreme disproportionate response by the pit bull, which launched a full-scale frontal assault.

For additional context, let's review an acutal routine act of an owner bending down to kiss his pit bull of multiple years that resulted in sudden, disinhibited aggression that caused catastrophic facial damage. This video, like the Graves video, is difficult to watch, though the resulting injuries are not shown in it. When this video was trending last month, we were able to locate a photograph of the pit bull owner's severe facial injuries. Before clicking this link, please do brace yourself.

As one Youtube commenter mentions, "Hardwood floor probably saved the rest of his face." No, the hardwood floors probably saved his life.

Summary

As we just witnessed, the coronavirus crisis is not going to reduce violent pit bull maulings, especially attacks carried out by family pit bulls upon household members and their friends. Like Latoya's story, however, attacks during this pandemic are not likely to receive media attention. In February, just before cities and states started locking down, Lauren of San Antonio was viciously attacked by a friend's pit bull. She's now being treated at University Hospital trauma center.

Sadly, none of these victims likely had any understanding of impulsive aggression and that breeders of fighting dogs selected for this trait -- the willingness to attack unbridled in the absence of species-specific signs that normally provoke aggression. The heritability of abnormal aggressive behavior, which Semyonova argues in her paper can no longer be denied, is the same reason why pit bulls appear so frequently in severe and fatal maulings compared with other dog breeds.

disinhibited aggression, pit bull

The pit bull attack victim seen before and after the violent facial pit bull mauling.

Related articles:
11/17/17: Rescue Pit Bull Attacks, Kills Woman in Virginia Beach Hours After Being Adopted
01/02/17: Pit Bull Named 'Scarface' Mauls Family Members After Owner Tries to Put Sweater...
05/05/09: Alexandra Semyonova: Heritability of Behavior in the Abnormally Aggressive Dog

Do Not Adopt A Pit Bull, Especially Right Now: Rescue and Shelter Shenanigans During the Coronavirus Crisis

do not adopt a pit bull during coronavirus
In 2018, attorney Kenneth Phillips began a Do Not Adopt a Pit Bull campaign.

Free Toilet Paper
DogsBite.org - Like many Americans, each new day brings a wealth of new information and new closures to us. In our city of Austin, that process began on March 6 when the city cancelled South By Southwest, an international festival that was estimated to draw about 300,000 attendees. March 6 was also the day CDC released new information about the virus. Pressure had been mounting on city officials, including a petition signed by 55 thousand people to cancel the event.

"Please think about the children, the immune compromised, the elderly, the diabetics and asthmatics -- people who could die because of this."

By March 17, all restaurants and bars were shuttered through May 1 in Austin, and all gatherings were limited to 10 people. Like people in many cities right now, we are weathering the storm in Austin by maintaining social distancing and largely staying home. During this time of crisis, we do not expect to see any media reports of fatal dog maulings. Right now, and potentially for months to come, the sole focus of the media is to provide critical information to the public about COVID-19.

Shelter Shenanigans

That said, we are watching the growing number of shenanigans being played out by shelters and rescues. The most offensive thus far is a March 13 advertisement for a pit bull-mix named "Tootie" by Do Only Good Animal Rescue in Pontiac (the same city where a shelter worker was attacked by a vicious pit bull late last year). Tootie's adoption fee was only $25 and the dog came with a "free roll of coveted TOILET PAPER," states the ad. They also recently had a "Coronavirus sale."

Many shelters and rescues are moving to "appointment only" and begging the public to foster dogs. Today, many taxpayer funded city and county shelters, all striving to reach the single metric 90% "save rate," have been one step away from disaster for a long time because they rely so heavily on unpaid personnel. What happens when 80% to 90% of their volunteers suddenly disappear due to a pandemic crisis? Paid staffers won't be able to properly care for all of the dogs.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control is even asking for donations, despite drastically reducing their intake, in fears they will become overcrowded and be "forced to make difficult decisions" (euthanizing unwanted pets). They seek donations so that if faced with overcrowding, they can board dogs at private facilities. During these times, we recommend adopting or fostering a cat -- an indoor only pet. A crisis is not a time to adopt a dog, much less an unwanted pit bull.

The Maricopa shelter is already filled to the brim with unwanted pit bulls. As the coronavirus crisis ensues, more unwanted pit bulls will stack up. Pit bull owners are not known for being responsible when there is no crisis at hand, so imagine when one is? Right now, with surging job losses, markets tanking and cities shutting down, not to mention the threat of the catching the virus yourself, is the worst time to let gimmicks and emotions drive a decision to adopt a high-risk dog.

My First Pit Bull Case

In 2018, dog bite attorney Kenneth Phillips began a Do Not Adopt a Pit Bull campaign. The campaign contains several Super Bowl-themed videos. We wrote about this last October in a story about a pit bull adoption disaster. His most recent addition to the campaign was published this week, titled, My First Pit Bull Case, which occurred in 1991. It is a chilling account of a vicious pit bull attack. His client, Alicia, amazingly survived, but with "horribly deformed, scarred legs."

Phillips also comments on the "senseless, even depraved decisions by pit bull owners" and the Facts and Figures about pit bulls. "Most of the time, pit bulls bite, maul or kill their owners or their owners' family members. Most of the time, the victims are females," Phillips states. "There is no reason to have this type of dog or, for that matter, any other high-risk dog." Phillips warns readers, "Do not adopt a pit bull." We will add, certainly do not adopt a pit bull during this pandemic crisis.

Concealing Aggression

Over the past few years, we have written extensively about how shelters and rescues "encode" and "conceal" aggression in adoption advertisements. Why would this change during a pandemic? Austin Pets Alive (APA), the no-kill agency that contracts with the city of Austin to ensure that Austin maintains its no-kill status, continually updates its coronavirus plan. On March 18, they claimed they were close to reaching their goal of 50% less animal inventory at the facility.

"Decreasing our animals on site: I shared last night that we are close to our goal of getting half our space cleared in case we do have an outbreak, resulting in less people on campus...

At this point, we are specifically seeking dog fosters with homes without children or pets, and/or stand alone homes with yards for our dogs who are wonderful but do require a little more patience and understanding. These dogs are unfortunately often overlooked and would therefore benefit the most with time away from a shelter environment." - Austin Pets Alive

Homes "without children or pets" and dogs that "require a little more patience and understanding" indicate APA is hoping fosters will take in the "long stay" dogs whose adoptions chances are slim. Many of these dogs are pit bulls. The whole point of "no-kill" is to keep these dogs alive, no matter if that means 15 different foster homes, multiple failed adoptions or spending years at the shelter. This is in stark contrast with Brother Wolf who recently admitted, "warehousing isn't working."

Gimmicks & Language

Finally, we expect to see more toilet paper gimmicks to encourage "impulse adoptions," as well as coronavirus-themed language. The worst coined thus far is "quarantine adoptions" from the Nashville Humane Association. As our readers know, after a dog attacks a person, a 10-day quarantine is required to observe the biter for rabies, which has a fatality rate of 99.9%. In terms of dogs, "quarantine" is not a term to toss around lightly or to freely associate with a happy adoption.

Regarding rescue dog shenanigans in the era of coronavirus, one of our Facebook commenters recently said, "They don't let a single crisis or holiday go to waste, but tell people getting a dog shouldn't be on impulse. This is the worst time to get a new pet." On March 1, just after the US reported its first community spread, a New York-based pizza shop began putting fliers of pit bulls on its boxes, offering a $50 certificate for the pizza shop if adopted. Gimmicks to promote pit bulls.

coronavirus gimmicks

On March 13, one rescue began offering a "free roll of coveted toilet paper" to adopters.

pizza box pit bull advertisements

Just before the coronavirus hit the US, a pizza shop began promoting pit bulls on their boxes.

Related articles:
10/16/19: A Pit Bull Adoption Disaster: Animal Aggression, Anti-Anxiety Medication...
05/11/18: Shelters and Humane Groups Often 'Encode' and 'Conceal' Aggression in Adoption...
09/20/16: Many Shelters Candy-Coat Dogs with Aggressive Behaviors in their Zeal to Increase...

2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Pit Bull Kills 2-Year Old Child in Portsmouth, Virginia

family pit bull kills portsmouth
Demi Witherspoon, 2-years old, was killed by a family pit bull in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Pit Bull Kills Child
Portsmouth, VA - A young child is dead after being attacked by a family pit bull in Portsmouth. On Monday, police were dispatched to a home in the 5600 block of Darby Close at 1:53 pm, according to Misty Holley with the Portsmouth Police Department. When officers and paramedics arrived, they found the 2-year old suffering life-threatening injuries. The child was transported to a local hospital, where she died. The family surrendered the 1-year old male pit bull to animal control.

One neighbor said the child's family had moved in over the weekend.

In the audio dispatch file from Broadcastify.com, the dispatcher for Portsmouth Police and Fire, states: "We have a pit bull who just bit the complainant's daughter's face completely off. She's not breathing." After Engine 3 arrives at the scene, the fireman reports, "We have a pit bull that's covered in blood here." Listening to this dramatic audio paints a portrait as vivid as any person would need to comprehend the dangers of bringing a pit bull into a home with a young child.

Since 2017, there have been three high-profile fatal pit bull attacks in Virginia. In June 2017, Margaret Colvin, 91-years old, was savagely killed by a pit bull her daughter had acquired from a rescue group earlier that day. In December 2017, Bethany Stephens, 22-years old and a pit bull advocate, was attacked and eaten by her two pit bulls in Goochland County. In September 2019, Morgan Crayton, 31-years old, was brutally killed by her 92-pound male pit bull in Hampton.

Finally, when pit bull aggression "turns on" for the first time, it is often between the ages of 1.5 and 2-years old, when the dog reaches sexual maturity. Owners of these dogs can always say, "The dog's never been aggressive before," because as a puppy or adolescent, the dog had not been. Adoption agencies and humane groups never share this information with the public. Also, many pit bull owners refuse to acknowledge the genetic heritage of this breed: fighting to the death in a pit.

Victim Identified

The obituary for the victim identifies her as Demi Marie Witherspoon. The GoFundMe created for her funeral expenses has reached over $6,000 and states, "Demi just lost her father a year ago. This alone was an experience no daughter or mother should ever have to face." Photographs from her mother's Facebook page indicate her father was Eric Witherspoon, Jr. He died of gun violence in Hampton, Virginia in November 2018, according to a national gun violence memorial website.

The little girl's family now has two family members on national memorial websites prior to each reaching the age of 25. Demi became the 601st American killed by pit bull violence since we began tracking this data at Fatal Pit Bull Attacks - The Archival Record. Demi also became the 238th child killed by pit bull violence since 1980, when the pit bull problem began to emerge, and the 187th child killed by pit bull violence since the CDC stopped tracking breed data in 1998.

portsmouth virginia, pit bull kills

A male family pit bull attacked and killed a 2-year old girl in Portsmouth, Virginia on Monday.

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: Virginia Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

Related articles:
09/30/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies After Vicious Attack by Her Own Pit Bull in Virginia
02/02/18: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: 22-Year Old Woman Dies in 'Grisly Mauling' by Her Pit Bulls...
11/17/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Adopted Out Pit Bull Kills Elderly Woman in Virginia Beach


Baseline reporting requirements:
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.