New Page Launch: A Collection of Vicious and Dangerous Dog Hearings Containing Audio and Video at

vicious and dangerous dog hearings
A new page dedicated to vicious and dangerous dog hearings at

Vicious Dog Hearings - We recently launched a new page within the Dangerous Dog section of our website: Dangerous Dog Hearings. The page highlights six hearings captured on video or audio, along with the second installment in a series of videos about San Francisco Animal Care and Control, which examines the city's Vicious and Dangerous Dog hearings. Most of the hearings listed on the page are from California, where audio recordings are part of the public record.

Many victims of dog attacks aren't even made aware of the dangerous dog designation hearing process, which are typically quasi-judicial. For instance, in parts of Texas, the victim must initiate the investigation by filing an affidavit. Animal control officers do not necessarily initiate the dangerous dog investigation. We have been told by multiple Texas victims they had no knowledge they were supposed to initiate the dangerous dog investigation themselves by filing an affidavit.

In many parts of the U.S., the steps to pursue a hearing are fraught with legal requirements or are derailed due to the failure of animal control departments to investigate cases that warrant a dangerous declaration (See a sizzling audit of Orange County, FL). We know that Los Angeles holds about 600 dangerous dog hearings annually (pop. 4 million), San Francisco 150 hearings (pop. 884k) and New York City (pop. 8.6 million) holds less than one OATH hearing per year.1

You will hear raw emotions from victims in these hearings and feel their pain. You will also hear "absurd" excuses by the owner's of vicious dogs.

Our goal in creating this page is to show dog attack victims what often occurs at an administrative dangerous dog hearing, also referred to as "Dog Court." You may face a neutral hearing officer, as was the case for Lana Bergman's family, or a biased one, such as former San Francisco hearing officer Jeff Foster, who was called out on the record. Both safety advocates and attorneys representing the owners of vicious dogs have called it "Kangaroo Court" in various jurisdictions.

"These hearings do not award any money for damages or cost. That is for an actual court to adjudicate. And while they can offer victims some sense of justice, their real purpose is to protect the public against future attacks from dogs known to be potentially dangerous," states the second installment about San Francisco. Evidence presented at these hearings can include: animal control reports; victim, witness and officer testimony; photographs; and records of the victim's injuries.

The Featured Hearings

In July, we obtained the audio of the Vicious Animal determination hearing involving the pit bulls that killed Lana Bergman. This is the only hearing where we provide an introduction. During the May 15 hearing, the San Bernardino County Animal Services officer reads his investigation report. This is the first time Lana's family has received "detailed" information about her case since her death on January 16. The hearing is 24 minutes long. We highly recommend listening to it in full.

Also in May, a woman in San Francisco testified after a pit bull named "Joy" viciously attacked herself and her dog. "Joy" had previously been the subject of a hearing in August 2017 for a separate attack. Hearing officer Foster, who presided over the case, did not declare "Joy" vicious or dangerous afterward, as the complainant failed to appear and could not be questioned. On May 22, 2019, "Joy" escaped its owner's property again and attacked this woman and her dog.2

"I'm the neighbor and her friend … I've lived in the apartment building next door to that house for the last -- since 1994. I work nights. I was sleeping on the couch in my living room. I hear all these screams ... I get up. I look down. I can see directly down on top of her through my window.

She's sitting on the ground, struggling with the dog. The dog is trying to get his jaws around her neck, but luckily she had her chin like this [motions chin down]. So, it's got one set of teeth into her chin on the side of her neck here. Had she had her chin up like this [motions chin up], he would have gotten her neck." - Testimony in "Joy" attack

Part of the hearing of "Tank" the pit bull was featured in the third installment in the series about San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC). The hour and 17 minute hearing that resulted is unusual, as it was brought by SFACC on behalf of the dog, not the human victim. SFACC attempted to use the hearing to railroad Dan Perata Training with false testimony, a training facility that is a direct competitor to SFACC director Donohue's own dog training facility, Pet Camp.

The fourth featured hearing provides the powerful testimony of Officer Eric Evans. In the summer of 2012, Officer Evans was on patrol with his horse Stoney when a pit bull named "Charlie" charged and attacked them, taking both the horse and rider down. Stoney then fled with the pit bull in pursuit for 1.6 miles. The 23 minutes of testimony by Officer Evans is riveting. The "outcome" of the dog later evolved into a "Save Charlie" campaign and a sketchy fundraiser.

"Stoney is a thoroughbred racehorse off the track. He can run, but that's not what you do in defense. So I stood there. I held Stoney and when Charlie got to us, he stopped a short distance away, maybe six feet. Sniffed a couple of times, growled a couple of times, and I thought okay, it's not going to be that bad..."

"He ended up on the left side of Stoney and bit Stoney on the front leg and locked on. Stoney reared up. Now I'm holding on for dear life, obviously. As he's rearing up with the dog, with the pit bull hanging from his leg and me trying to stay on, and he's trying to get his balance -- we all go down. I land headfirst." - U.S. Park Police Officer Eric Evans

The remaining two featured hearings are appeals involving defense attorneys. One sees right away how their presence alters the spirit of these hearings. In the case of "Archi," an unaltered Dogo argentino that brutally attacked a jogger in Los Angeles, a panel of commissioners hears the case, not a single hearing officer. The commissioners warn the defense attorney a number of times, "You are not helping your case." At 24 minutes in length, it's swift and professional.

The last hearing is the most disturbing. We reduced its three hour length down to closing arguments (30 minutes). The hearing is more formal with a prosecutor and a defense attorney, but only plastic tables and fold up chairs are in the room. The hearing is held in Miami after three family dogs brutally killed 91-year old Carmen Reigada in 2015. The dogs "defleshed" her face and scalp. Her great-grandson pursued the hearing to keep two of the fatal attackers alive.

There are dozens of indeterminable crime scene photos on the tables. This was a gruesome fatality that began as a homicide investigation. Under this setting, the defense tears into a "lack of evidence" gathered by the county and argues that two of the dogs only inflicted "superficial" bites and should be returned to his client. Miami-Dade County, however, did not have to prove which of the dogs did the "most" damage. They only had to prove that all three dogs inflicted bites.


After surviving a vicious dog attack, most victims are shocked to learn, "You mean the city does not automatically put the attacking dog down?" No. While due process dictates an appeal process, depending upon your state law, such appeals can go on for years. Worse, some victims are never even told how to initiate a dangerous dog investigation after an attack or if the dog had a history of previous attacks. It's up to the victim to obtain that information through a formal FOIA request.

Finally, these hearings are often emotional and compelling, even with the predictable testimony that comes from the dog's owner. "He's always been a good doggie. He's gentle with kids." A fair amount of victim blaming is done as well. In the Dogo case, the defense attorney claimed the jogger was doing "martial arts" down the street. "Had it not been for the karate kicks, punches and aggression," the dog would have never jumped out of the yard, the defense brazenly argued.

vicious and dangerous dog hearings

The Dogo argentino "Archi" and American bulldog-mix "Bear" were ordered to be euthanized.

1Our public records request in September 2018 to NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: "FOIL-2018-820-01029 -- number of OATH hearings held that were brought by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or other legal entity for the purposes of a "Dangerous Dog" hearing under Section 161.07 or 17-342, 17-345 for the following years and broken down by years (the number of OATH hearings by year) 2015, 2016, and 2017." Their response was 2017 - 1 case, 2016 - 0 cases and 2015 - 1 case.
2Joy was declared Vicious and Dangerous after the second attack and was ordered to be humanely euthanized. SFACC agreed that the "bite to the chin" was "very concerning."

Related articles:
05/28/19: Conflict of Interest: San Francisco Animal Control and Virginia Donohue
12/06/18: San Francisco Animal Control: Vicious and Dangerous Dogs Unleashed
05/26/16: Same Dogs in North Dallas Involved in Four Separate Attacks; One Victim Shares...

2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Hudson Valley Woman Killed by Her Pet Coonhounds

woman killed by coonhound
Arlene Renna, 67, was mauled and killed by one or both of her coonhounds.

Woman Dies in Mauling
Pleasant Valley, NY - A 67-year old woman home alone was killed by one or more dogs, police said. On Saturday about 4:00 pm, New York State Police and Pleasant Valley Fire Department EMS were dispatched to a home on Barkit Kennel Road after a report of a woman with life-threatening injuries. The woman, identified as Arlene Renna, 67, was found unconscious on her living room floor by her husband after he arrived home. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The couple owns two pet coonhounds. Investigators determined the wounds and circumstances were consistent with a dog attack. The Dutchess County Medical Examiner and the Dutchess County District Attorney's Office also responded to assist with the investigation. Police have not stated if one or both of the coonhounds were involved. Both dogs were taken into custody by the Dutchess County SCPA. Investigators determined there were no indications of foul play.

John Taylor posted a heartfelt message on Facebook Sunday: "My heart and my family's hearts are shattered at the sudden, unexpected, and tragic death of my high school sweetheart, my first wife, the mother of our three children, the grandmother of our Ellie. Arlene Webb Taylor Renna died accidentally at home last night, on our daughter Jillian's 31st birthday. It is nothing short of a nightmare." People like Arlene can never be replaced, he wrote. "They can only live in our hearts."

On Tuesday, News 12 Westchester reported they were told by an unnamed source that Renna and her husband owned a redbone coonhound and a black and tan coonhound. Neighbors told the news outlet they had never seen the dogs act in a violent manner. Neighbors said they did not know how long the couple had owned the dogs. News 12 reached out to the Dutchess County SPCA, but they would not comment. The couple also had dog art attached to their mailbox.

Police did not release identification photographs of the dogs. A 2012 photograph of her husband with a redbone coonhound, however, was located by our nonprofit on Jillian's Facebook page.

Hounds Rarely Inflict Fatalities

Hounds (generically), not specified as coonhounds, have only been involved in one other fatal dog attack since 2005. In 2014, Jose Robles, 62, died after being attacked by up to 15 dogs while walking down a country road in Madison, North Carolina. Robles and his wife were visiting from Mexico at the time. The pack included three Australian cattle dogs, six Australian shepherds and six hounds. The owner, Daniel McCollum, was later charged with involuntary manslaughter.

coonhounds kill woman

The area of Barkit Kennel Road, where a woman was mauled to death by her coonhounds.

Related articles:
08/28/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Owner of Doberman Pinscher Show Dogs Found Dead...
02/28/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Greenville Woman Severely Mauled by Her Own Dogs Dies...

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.

2019 Dog Bite Fatality: 19-Year Old Girl Dies After Brutal Attack by Pack of Dogs in Knox County

Adrieanna killed by dogs
Adrieanna O'Shea, 19-years old, died after five dogs attacked her in Knox County.

Victim Did Not Survive
Knox County, TN - Multiple family members confirm on social media that 19-year old Adrieanna O'Shea did not survive her injuries. On Friday, August 23, Adrieanna was viciously attacked by five dogs while visiting a property on Crescent Drive. The pack contained multiple mastiff-mixes, a rottweiler-mix and a pit bull. Adrieanna had been returning to the home after leaving her purse there the night before. A witness said "the dogs were dragging her and tossing her in the air."

Case Background

On August 23, multiple media outlets in Knox County, Tennessee reported a vicious dog attack in the 6000 block of Crescent Drive. A controversial GoFundMe campaign was created afterward, dividing family members in multiple states. Adrieanna resided in Maryville, but was attacked in Knox County. Her relatives appear to reside in Mississippi, North Carolina and Nevada. On Tuesday, we began following a man on Facebook who calls Adrieanna his daughter.

On August 28, the Knox County Sheriff's Office confirmed investigators were sent to 6517 Crescent Drive on Friday at about 2:00 pm for reports of a 19-year old girl viciously attacked by a pack of dogs (read parts of police report). A witness at the scene told investigators Adrieanna was coming over to pick up her purse because she had left it there the night before. The witness said she heard Adrieanna say, "No Boscoe!" then heard her screaming, "Help me! Help me!"

The witness said, "she heard screaming and ran to the door and she saw 4-5 dogs attacking Adrieanna," states the police report. "The dogs were dragging her and tossing her in the air," the witness said. Two arriving officers were told that Adrieanna "had jumped a small fence to try to get away from the dogs." An officer shot and killed one of the dogs after it charged them. Officers said the victim had "bite wounds to both her arms and all over her body" and had "lost a lot of blood."

"The dogs tore off her clothes during the attack. She was covered in blood and debris and non-responsive." - Knox County Sheriff's Office report

As reported by the owners, the dogs involved were a male mastiff named "Boscoe," a male rottweiler-mix named "Buddy," another mastiff-mix named "Camo," an unaltered female pit bull named "Nila" and a male, neutered mastiff-Labrador mix named "Duke." While officers loaded the dogs into a van, the landlord and dogs' owner, Rodnee Herald, told officers, the dogs were just "Doing their job," states the report. The dogs were taken to Young-Williams Animal Center.

According to news reports, the owner said the dogs were restrained by an electric fence that was not buried. When deputies tried to explain that this type of fence was not allowed, one of the owners became "hostile" and proclaimed, "We killed his dog!" states the report. Also stated in the report, Herald told officers, "the dogs are family dogs, the family being: herself, her husband and her son." As noted in the news reports, there were multiple mobile homes on the property.

Adrieanna was attempting to retrieve her purse from a mobile home on the property that was adjacent to where the owners of the dogs lived.

By Wednesday evening, the remaining four dogs had been euthanized and Herald walked back her cold-blooded statement to officers. However, it only matters what was said at the scene after five dogs brutally attacked Adrieanna, who knew at least one of the dogs by name. The dogs were just "Doing their job," Herald told officers then. Herald stated Wednesday, the gruesome attack was "traumatizing for all parties involved." Except that only Adrieanna suffered traumatic injuries.

As the owner of vicious dogs, the Heralds could not leave it at that either. Referred to as "they" by WBIR, Herald family members told WBIR, "I would not own any kind of animal that would do something like this. We are all traumatized with this freak accident and are praying for Adrieanna and her family." The term "freak accident" has been employed by the owners of vicious dogs -- primarily pit bulls -- to deny responsibility after monolithic maulings and fatal attacks since 1985.

Another Teenager Killed by Dogs

Adrieanna is the third teenager mauled to death by dogs this year. As we stated after the deaths of 14-year old Ryan Hazel and 16-year old Nelson Cabrera earlier this year, victims in the 10 to 18-year old age group make up only 1.5% of dog bite fatalities. Victims in the 19-29 age group make up only 3% of fatality victims. All three fatal attacks involved multiple dogs on the dog owner's property while the teenage victim was visiting -- Cabrera was allegedly trespassing at the time.

According to Adrieanna's Facebook page, she graduated from Heritage High School in Maryville in June 2019. She began studying at Walters State Community College in Sevierville afterward.

Knox County Fire and Rescue Dispatch Logs: 13:57 on 08/23/2019 from

Adrieanna killed by dogs

Three of the dogs belonging to the Herald family that attacked and killed Adrieanna O'Shea.

map iconView the Google Map: Tennessee Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

Related articles:

07/23/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Mauled to Death by Pack of Dogs in Southwest Memphis
08/13/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Texas Teen Dies After Brutal Attack by Three Pit Bulls in Irving

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.

2019 Dog Bite Fatality: 9-Year Old Girl Mauled to Death by Three Pit Bulls on Detroit's West Side

Dog Owner Charged with Second-Degree Murder & Manslaughter

Emma Hernandez - Detroit pit bull mauling
Emma Hernandez, 9-years old, was killed by three pit bulls in southwest Detroit.

Dog Owner Charged
UPDATE 08/22/19: The owner of three pit bulls that brutally killed a 9-year old girl in southwest Detroit Monday has been charged with murder, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said. Pierre Cleveland, 33, has been charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death. He was arraigned Thursday. Magistrate Millicent Sherman ordered a $2 million bond with no 10 percent, exceeding the prosecution's request.

Cleveland's defense attorney argued that he deserved a reasonable bond and was not a flight risk because two weeks before the attack, three fingers on his right hand were severed in a work-related accident; he is a machinist. Cleveland also has no felonies in his past. Prosecutors countered by asking for a high cash bond. Prosecutors stated that Cleveland knew his dogs were aggressive and that his backyard was not secure. Prosecutors said the evidence will show:

  • "The defendant was harboring dogs he knew to be vicious; he knew to be aggressive."
  • "The defendant knew a week prior to his dogs killing Emma Hernandez, one of his dogs killed a puppy in his home."
  • The defendant knew that his dogs" fought with each other in his home."
  • The defendant knew that "one of the dogs killed multiple puppies on July 29, 2019" just two weeks before they fatally mauled Emma.
  • "On August 19, 2019 of this year, that Cleveland left those dogs he knew to be aggressive, he knew to be vicious, unrestrained and alone in a backyard that he knew was not secure."
  • "The evidence will show those dogs had escaped multiple times, even a week prior" to killing Emma Hernandez.

Michigan Law & What's Next

Under Michigan law -- one of the few states with a felony dog attack law -- prosecutors should be able to prove the involuntary manslaughter charge with the evidence just stated. Proving the second-degree murder charge is much more difficult. As we saw during the Geneke Lyons case, the judge threw out that charge during the trial, stating that prosecution had failed to provide sufficient evidence for the higher charge. The preliminary exam is scheduled for September 6.

On Thursday, Pierre Lamra Cleveland, 33, was arraigned by video in the 36th District Court.

08/20/19: Community, Family Mourn Loss
The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Emma Hernandez. She died of multiple injuries and her death was ruled an accident. On Monday afternoon, three pit bulls viciously attacked the little girl in an alley behind her Detroit home while she was riding her bike. She was transported to Children's Hospital of Michigan, where she was pronounced dead. The owner of the pit bulls, a 33-year old male, was taken into custody after the violent attack.

Neighbors rushed to help the little girl, including Edward Cruz, who threw a brick at the dogs causing them to scatter. Another bystander started firing on the dogs. One pit bull was struck by a bullet, but survived. Detroit Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell said, "We were performing EMS under gunfire" while at the scene. Just hours after the deadly attack, Fornell said that some of the first responding firefighters and EMS personnel were receiving trauma counseling.

"I came out of the house and you could hear the screaming, people screaming 'Oh my God, oh my God.'" - Neighbor Deborah Golden

The girl's father, Armando Hernandez, told WWJ that he tried to do everything he could to save her. "I tried my best. I tried CPR, I tried helping her … She was gone when I reached her," Hernandez said. He recently warned the owner of the dogs that his fence was too flimsy to hold the dogs. "I knew the dogs were there. I knew the neighbor. We had an argument about it just last week and he just didn't take care of his dogs properly. He could have prevented this," he said.

Hernandez said that in November 2017, police came out and made a report about the dogs, but never followed up on it. "The dogs stayed there loose, wild, and the guy didn't feed them," he said. Now he is a heartbroken father. "There's no words. I feel so empty. I don't know what to do. I'm really heartbroken right now," Hernandez said. "Just over and over, I keep replaying it. I couldn't sleep. I haven't slept. Just, every time I close my eyes, man, I see my baby girl," he said.

Police Chief James Craig gave a press conference today. He stated in part: "A 9-year old was attacked by a number of pit bulls ... As disgusting as the fact that this owner of these dogs should be held accountable, I am happy to report that he has been arrested ... How many more times? When you hear these stories about some of these pit bulls. I think of the image of the postal employee ... Here we are sitting here talking about a child, and a family. Did it have to happen?"

"Certainly the owner has a responsibility when they have violent animals that those animals are to be secure at all times." - Police Chief James Craig

Holding the dog owner accountable in Wayne County, however, means little. After a pack of pit bulls belonging to Geneke Lyons killed 4-year old Xavier Strickland on Detroit's west side in 2015, he was convicted on two felony counts: involuntary manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death. Judge James Callahan sentenced him to only 5-years probation with a year in "work release" jail. The sentence was below the minimum guidelines of 19 to 38 months.

The family has set up a GoFundme and has raised over $25,000 for Emma's funeral costs.

08/19/19: Pit Bulls Kill Child in Detroit
Detroit, MI - On Monday, about 4:00 pm, a 9-year old girl was severely mauled by three dogs near the intersection of Central Avenue and Smart Street on Detroit's west side. Multiple news outlets report the attacking dogs were pit bulls. A neighbor shot one of the dogs, according to Detroit Fire. The child had been walking through an alley when the dogs escaped a nearby home and attacked her. She was rushed to Children's Hospital of Michigan, where she was pronounced dead.

Reporter Jermont Terry spoke to Edward Cruz at the scene, who tried to save the girl. "There was screaming and yelling," he said. "My mom was screaming, 'Help! Help!' I came outside and decided to help." I saw "three dogs attacking a child, biting her, chewing her, attacking her, mauling her, whatever you guys call it. It was just tearing her apart." Cruz grabbed a brick and threw it at the pit bulls and they fled. Shaken, Cruz wishes he could have gotten there sooner.

Evening Updates

The Detroit Free Press reports that the owner of the dogs that killed the child, a 33-year old man, was taken into custody in the hours following the attack. Detroit Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell told the Free Press, "When we first got on the scene, the girl was laying in the alley, and her father was performing CPR. Our first arriving unit jumped in and started CPR. At that point, the neighbors were shooting at the dogs. We were performing EMS under gunfire," Fornell said.

One of the attacking dogs was struck by the gunfire. Another person threw a brick at the dogs to stop the attack, Detroit Police Cpl. Dan Donakowski said. Paramedics continued CPR in the ambulance while en route to Children's Hospital of Michigan. She was pronounced dead after she arrived, Fornell said. The little girl "suffered severe traumatic injuries," Fornell said. Police have not released the identity of the child. Donakowski described all three attacking dogs as pit bulls.

WXYZ interviewed neighbor Deborah Golden who also tried to help the girl. "I seen the little girl flat on her back with bite marks and part of her neck hanging off. I started CPR and I had her dad grab her neck and hold it," Golden said. As she started CPR she instructed one of the victim's relatives to use a tee shirt to stop the blood until paramedics arrived at the scene. "You’re not going to wait even a second," she told The Detroit News. WXYZ reports the victim is Hispanic.

ClickOnDetroit reports that someone threw a flammable object at the dog owner's home after the horrific attack. So Detroit Fire had to return to the home. Tensions are high in the neighborhood.

Pit bulls kill child in Detroit

An emotional Edward Cruz, who tried to save the child, talks to a ClickOnDetroit reporter.

pit bull mauling detroit

Neighbors are "wrecked" and devastated after seeing three pit bulls kill a little girl in Detroit. Three days later, we learned that the man on the right is Pierre Cleveland, the dogs’ owner.

Graphic Medical study: Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit, by Cheryl L. Loewe MD et al., The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Vol 28, December 2007.

map iconView the Google State Map: Michigan Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Related articles:
07/20/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Pit Bull Kills 71-Year Old Woman in Southwest Detroit
06/30/16: Criminal Trial: Detroit Pit Bull Owner Convicted on Two Counts of Manslaughter...
01/07/16: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: 4-Year Old Boy Savagely Killed by Four Pit Bulls in Detroit
09/15/15: Detroit Man Suffers Catastrophic Injuries in Violent Pack Attack by Pit Bulls

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.