2019 Dog Bite Prevention Week: Protect Your Postal Carrier from Damaging Dog Bites, Highlights of Recent Carrier Attacks

Observing 2019 National Dog Bite Prevention Week®1

2019 dog bite prevention week

Read a brief history of National Dog Bite Prevention Week and how, over the years, various co-sponsors of the annual event have utilized this safety week to push their national agendas.
Last year, 5,714 Postal Service employees were victimized by dogs, down from 6,244 in 2017. Learn about the cities with the most attacks and view the 2018 Postal Service dog attack map.
We highlight two recent postal carrier dog maulings: a brutal pit bull attack in Kentucky in March and a violent attack on a Detroit letter carrier captured on a motorist's dash cam in February.

National Postal Service Attacks
DogsBite.org - On Sunday, the United States Postal Service kicked off their 25th National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The Postal Service was established in 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General. In this year's post, we briefly discuss how various special interest groups co-sponsoring the event have utilized this safety week to further their own agendas, including when the week first debuted in 1995.

We discuss the Postal Service dog attack national rankings for 2018 and how the double-digit increase of package deliveries by the USPS, including deliveries seven-days-a-week, caused a surge of attacks in 2016, the highest in three decades. We also discuss two recent high-profile maulings of mail carriers, one captured on dramatic video, and the reality that we live in an era of severe and fatal dog maulings, but few in the public sphere carry a risk as high as a letter carrier.


A History of Agenda-Ridden Co-Sponsors

Critics Outraged Over HSUS

The first National Dog Bite Prevention Week began in 1995 in a joint venture with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). It was a $15 million dollar campaign that included mailing a postcard to all 128 million U.S. households. This outraged HSUS critics, who stated the mailing provided the HSUS with free nationwide advertising. The postcard included the HSUS logo and its contact information to learn more "about dog bite prevention and responsible pet ownership."2

"The whole project was supposedly to prevent dog bites, but what it really does is to promote the HSUS agenda." - National Animal Interest Alliance, 1995

HSUS critics were also irate that the postcard titled, "Don't let your dog bite the hand that serves you!" contained as it's first tip: "Spay or neuter your dog -- unneutered dogs are more likely to bite!" Critics claimed the tip promoted the HSUS's agenda against "pet overpopulation," chiefly targeted at dog breeders. In 1995, this unneutered claim was supported by a single study published in 1994. Today, it is widely accepted that male castration does reduce roaming.3

According to an archive created by HSUS critics (we extracted 4 pages), Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders said the order in which the tips appeared was random and he was unaware of any wider agenda on pets by the HSUS. "We approached the HSUS," not the other way around, Saunders said, who coordinated National Dog Bite Prevention Week in 1995 and for many years thereafter. As of 2018, Saunders was still a spokesman for the Postal Service.

AVMA & Insurance Groups

Thus began the politicking by various special interest groups behind a national week designed to promote the safety of postal carriers by reducing dog bites and attacks. By 2003, the American Veterinary Medical Association had "adopted" the event. In 2008, the AVMA received a trademark for the logo. In 2014, the AVMA received a trademark for the name and logo. So now, when the Postal Service uses the name, "National Dog Bite Prevention Week," it must be noted with an ®.

This year, the AVMA observed the national week on April 7-13. The event is listed on their Dog Bite Prevention page, which also lists their agenda items like, "Why breed-specific legislation is not the answer." State Farm, a co-sponsor of the week, boasts a more discreet anti-BSL agenda, "any dog CAN bite regardless of breed or type," along with a for-profit sales pitch, "State Farm is one of the few insurance companies in the country that does not have a breed restriction list."

The USPS National Dog Bite Prevention Week this year is April 14-20. The Postal Service describes the week in their campaign kit as, "a public service campaign that offers safety tips and emphasizes the need for increased owner responsibility" to help prevent dog attacks. "From nips and bites to vicious attacks, aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to our employees." Unlike animal and insurance organizations, the Postal Service has no piggybacking agenda.


Postal Service Dog Attack National Rankings

National & Local Dog Attack Data

Last year, 5,714 Postal Service employees were victimized by dogs. One gains vivid clarity of the volume of these attacks on their 2018 dog attack map. This is a decrease from 6,244 in 2017 and 6,755 in 2016, which was the highest in three decades. In 2017, the Associated Press attributed the surge of attacks to the double-digit increase of package deliveries by the USPS, including deliveries seven-days-a-week, due to agreements struck with Amazon in 2013 and 2014.

"The high for [mail carrier] attacks dated back to the 1980s, at more than 7,000, before maulings by pit bulls and other potentially aggressive dogs became a public issue." - Associated Press, April 2, 2017

Data from the Postal Service also shows that for the second year in a row, Houston led all cities in attacks on mail carriers, 75, followed by Los Angeles, 60. There were four Texas cities in the top 10 cities: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth. The only other state with multiple listings in the top 10 was Ohio (Cleveland and Columbus). When looking at top states, USPS carriers in California were victimized by dogs the most (794) and nearly twice as many as in Texas (462).

Also highlighted in this year's news release is the technology the Postal Service uses to support carrier safety. The hand-held devices used by carriers to confirm customer delivery, include a feature to indicate if a dog is at an address. Secondly, the Package Pickup app asks customers to indicate if dogs are at their address when they schedule pickups, which allows USPS to send alerts to those carriers. Hopefully, technology can keep the trends of attacks moving downward.

Help Protect Your Postal Carriers

  • Last year, many attacks reported by letter carriers came from dogs whose owners regularly used the phrase, "My dog won't bite."
  • When a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate glass windows to attack visitors.
  • Parents should remind children and other family members not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet. The dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.

Vicious Dog Attacks Victimizing Mail Carriers

Kentucky Pit Bull Attack

On March 25, a U.S. Postal Service carrier was viciously attacked by a pit bull while on her mail route in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. USPS employee Jill Cooper was airlifted to TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashvillle. Debra Alexander, 54-years old, was immediately charged with harboring a vicious animal, Hopkinsville police said. The arrest citation stated, the dog "viciously attacked" Cooper and "it took two people to fight and remove the dog from the victim," reports WKRN.

A week later, local mail carrier Curtiss McColm spoke at a Hopkinsville City Council meeting. He read a letter that he prepared for the council, detailing his concerns about the hazards letter carriers face. Among them, "traffic obstacles, aggressive drivers, unsupervised children, walking obstacles and elevated risk of all these hazards when darkness falls and our ability to see is impaired. But, aggressive and vicious dogs are possibly our biggest hazard," McColm said.

Speaking on behalf of himself, not his employer, McColm also proposed several strategies to reduce these attacks, including banning pit bulls. McColm cited the Kentucky Court of Appeals decision in Bess v. Bracken County Fiscal Court, which upheld the county's pit bull ban. McColm also proposed muzzling, insurance or tethering requirements for pit bull owners and to place prioritization on animal control, especially when carriers make calls about aggressive dogs.

Debra Alexander (AKA Debra Jones and several other aliases) began a 5-year parole term on March 18, 2019, just one week before her dog violently attacked Cooper, according to the Kentucky Online Offender Look Up. She was convicted of robbery in the second-degree, a class C felony, in Christian County District Court on September 26, 2018. After the dog attack, Alexander was charged with harboring a vicious animal, which carries a fine and/or up to 60 days in jail.4

Back in February, 1-year old Ashton McGhee was killed by a family pit bull-mix while visiting his grandmother's home in Guthrie, about 35 miles from Hopkinsville. Ashton lived in Hopkinsville with his mother, Miranda McGhee. Alexander and the boy's mother are Facebook friends. Please take a moment to consider this. Alexander knows the parent of a child who was killed by a pit bull. Less than two months later, her own pit bull savagely attacked a mail carrier, requiring an airlift.

Detroit Pit Bull Attack

Also in February, a vicious attack on a Detroit mail carrier was captured on a motorist's dash cam. The six-minute video is difficult to watch. The pit bull is latched onto the carrier's foot, while the male carrier is lying on the side of a residential street (a scene not too different than an image released this year by the USPS for National Dog Bite Prevention Week). The man inside the vehicle is distressed and honking the horn, as a woman holding a broom tries to help the carrier.

A man wearing a red hat gets out of the vehicle and hurls a trashcan at the pit bull then beats the dog with a "Club." All the while, the carrier is screaming, still on the ground with the pit bull latched onto his foot. At 3 minutes, a person appears with a leash. By 4 minutes, they have extracted the dog from the carrier. By 4:22, the pit bull is loose again, but appears injured. Then a car door slams. "Thank you," says the mail carrier to the man in the red hat, now safely inside his car.

But the pit bull is not finished. Next, it goes after the woman who had been carrying the broom. The man wearing the red hat shouts, "Get in the house!" The camera gets flipped upside down and honking is heard. "Get her in the house, NOW!" he yells again. By 5:40, the camera is righted and the man in the red hat is back inside his car with the carrier. He considers moving his car before calling 911 then realizes, "You're the government bro (USPS) -- I'm calling right now."

The unnamed owner of the pit bull told WXZY, "I used to tease and say, 'Oh you know he's a little push over -- he wouldn't bite anybody.'"

After the video went viral, Detroit media reported the attack happened in the 20000 block of Ardmore Street on February 22. The letter carrier was reported to be in stable condition, but the pit bull was able to bite through his boot. At one point, the pit bull is seen latched onto the carrier's forearm and hand as well. The USPS released a statement thanking all of the people who helped the carrier. Detroit Animal Care and Control took the pit bull, named "Boss Hog," into custody.

On April 15, in alliance with 2019 Dog Bite Prevention Week, the victim of the Detroit pit bull mauling, postal carrier Todd Bridges spoke for the first time publicly. "I turn around, I see a pit bull charging at me in full force," Bridges said. "Each day I try to push it further and further back into my mind. I try not to do anything that is going to trigger it." Bridges said he unleashed his entire canister of dog spray on the pit bull. "I sprayed in his face, eyes and his mouth," Bridges said. "It's like it didn't even phase him." Oneil Colley was also at the public awareness event today, where he was presented with a Hero Award. - ClickOnDetroit, April 15, 2019


Summary & Call to Action

With a double-digit increase of package deliveries by the Postal Service, including deliveries seven-days-a-week, we remind all dog owners to be vigilant in your efforts to ensure the safety of your Postal Service carriers, as well as your UPS and FedEx carriers. All dogs are territorial and present a biting risk to these employees. If you are using the mobile USPS Package Pickup application (or website application), please let them know if there is a dog at your location.

For future observation of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, our nonprofit will only observe the week that is steered by the Postal Service, an entity that has no other agenda than to protect their employees and to remind dog owners that vigilance is needed to prevent bites and attacks. "Boss Hog," unsurprisingly, shot out of his home when the owner's nephew tried to leave. The hero in the red hat, Oneil Colley, drove up to the scene while the vicious attack was already in progress.

As the 2017 Associated Press article noted, "The high for [mail carrier] attacks dated back to the 1980s, at more than 7,000, before maulings by pit bulls and other potentially aggressive dogs became a public issue." These maulings are now a larger public issue than ever, but few in the public sphere carry a risk as high as a letter carrier. Remember what mail carrier Curtiss McColm said at the city council meeting, "aggressive and vicious dogs are possibly our biggest hazard."

2019 dog bite prevention week

National map showing the 5,714 dog attacks on U.S. Postal Service carriers in 2018.

2019 dog bite prevention week

Oneil Colley seen with postal carrier Todd Bridge on March 29, one month after rescuing him.

1National Dog Bite Prevention Week is a registered trademark of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
2We believe the extracted archive is mainly from a July-August 1995 NAIA newsletter, as is referenced in the piece ("Dog Bite Prevention Campaign Pairs Post Office with Animal Rights Organization," NAIA News, July-August 1995). The NAIA website dates back to 1997, so we could not find this specific newsletter source. It's certainly believable the NAIA would have taken this stance in 1995. This all occurred over two decades ago, when the spay/neutering message to the public was still being villafied. It's a rather fascinating piece of history!
3Surprisingly, little research has been done in this area. Which Dogs Bite? A Case Control Study of Risk Factors, was published in 1994. It was based on 1991 Denver County dog bite data, thus pit bull behavior was excluded since Denver banned pit bulls in 1989. The study concluded that dogs most likely to bite were "male, unneutered and chained." In 1997, the Effects of Castration on Problem Behaviors in Male Dogs with Reference to Age and Duration of Behavior, by Neilson et al., found that sterilizing males was "most effective in altering objectionable urine making, mounting, and roaming." Some aggressive behaviors were curbed in a fewer than one-third of the dogs.
4Sections 258.235 and 258.990 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS).

Related website pages:

2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Pair of Adopted Male Pit Bulls Mauled to Death a 62-Year Old Man in Henderson, Nevada Last Year

pair of adopted pit bulls kill henderson man
Pair of male pit bulls believed to be Spike and Zeus three months before killing a man.


DogsBite.org - During 2018, we sent out 10 public information requests to uncover unreported dog bite fatalities, as well as to gain more information on cases that did receive media coverage. There were a total of 36 deaths in 2018. Our requests uncovered two of these 36 deaths that otherwise were unreported, or in the case of a devastating family pit bull mauling in Henderson in May, was only reported as a second dog mauling death in Clark County, Nevada with no other details.

In October 2018, Susan Sweeney, 58-years old, was brutally killed by a mastiff-mix she adopted several days earlier from The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas -- the county seat of Clark County. Her death made national headlines. Yet, five months earlier, also in Clark County, a 62-year old man was viciously mauled and killed by a pair of male pit bulls adopted from the Henderson Animal Shelter eight months earlier. There were no media reports about his mauling death.1

Both fatal dog attacks that went unreported in 2018 involved a destructive attack by a family pit bull on the dog owner's parent.

On May 23, 2018, Henderson police were dispatched to a home on Shimmering Glen Avenue about 7:30 pm. Officers found the male victim "suffering from serious injuries to his throat, neck, face and other extremities," states the police report. Bradley Cline, 62, was transported to Sunrise Hospital for medical treatment. Police determined that four pit bulls resided in the home. Arriving officers observed "large pools of blood covering the entirety of the living room," states the report.

A witness said that Cline was attempting to take a female pit bull, named "Terror Vicious Cuddle Bugs," outside when a pair of male pit bulls, Spike and Zeus, attacked the female. When Cline intervened to stop the fight, both males attacked him. The attack lasted up to 20 minutes, states the report. Cline died of his injuries three days later. The male pit bulls' owner, Cline's son, told police he adopted Spike and Zeus on September 19, 2017 from the Henderson Animal Shelter.

The neutered, microchipped, gray and white pit bulls were about 1-year old at the time of the attack, states the report. Both dogs were euthanized. A February 17, 2018 Facebook post shows a family member had tried to rehome the pair of male sibling pit bulls because, "we can't keep them with our other pit bulls," she wrote. Three months later, in a grisly mauling of up to 20 minutes long, leaving "blood evidence on the walls, floors, furniture in the room," the dogs killed Cline.

The Clark County Coroner ruled the cause of death as "canine mauling" and the manner of death an accident. Our initial public information request was to the coroner to ensure that our records matched the number of dog bite-related deaths over a 6-year period (Jan 1, 2013 to Dec 31, 2018) in Clark County.2 We then requested and were able to obtain records from the Henderson Police Department about the May 26 dog mauling death of Cline and the outcome of the involved dogs.

Lastly, the police report also states, "It was learned that 4 pit bulls were currently in the house, secured in rooms, the garage, and the backyard." While details about the day-to-day housing of the dogs is unknown, we do know the pair of males could not be kept with the other pit bulls. Thus, a crate-and-rotate routine was needed in the multi-pit bull household to keep the dogs from fighting. A similar scenario, which did not prevent the fatal attack of a toddler, occurred in March.

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google State Map: Nevada Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.
1The last recorded fatal dog mauling in Henderson involved the heavily litigated case of a dog named "Onion," a mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback that killed a 1-year old boy in April 2012. After two years of legal wrangling between the City of Henderson and animal rights advocates, the city released the dog to the Lexus Project, which sent the dog to an unnamed out-of-state rescue. Perhaps that is why there was a tight lid on Cline's case. Henderson fought hard for two years to put Onion down only to become the center of a national debate to "save a dog" that violently killed an innocent child. Six years after the boy's death, revelations about Onion continue. In 2017, after "another" upheaval at the city of Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare agency due to allowing potentially dangerous shelter dogs to be adopted to the public, the rescue was identified. At that time, on the hot seat was director Paul Caster, who had hired an animal rights colleague from Colorado, Deb Brinkley, as an associate director of the department. Brinkley admitted that it was her Colorado animal rescue, DMK Rehoming, that stepped into "save" Onion after the dog killed the boy. Brinkley was also on the hot seat due to her "frequent habit of blaming victims for dog bites," reported the Albuquerque Journal. Brinkley was later "placed on administrative leave after revelations surfaced that she cherry-picked adoptable dogs, including puppies, from the city shelters for transfer to her private animal rescue. The rescue sold puppies for $250 when the city of Albuquerque was charging $80," reported the Albuquerque Journal.
2We do not include dog bite sepsis deaths in our fatality statistics, so we redacted that victim's name.

Related articles:
03/13/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Rescue Dogs Kill Toddler, Leave Grandmother with Traumatic...
10/12/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull-Mix Attacks Two Family Members, Killing One...
10/09/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Recently Adopted Mastiff Kills Owner in Las Vegas, Nevada

2nd Edition: Misunderstood Nanny Dogs? A Critical and Objective Analysis of the Facts & Myths Concerning Pit Bulls

By J. Thomas Beasley

2nd edition misunderstood nanny dogs
Author releases 2nd edition of book with new chapters: Misunderstood Nanny Dogs?

Purchase on Amazon
DogsBite.org - In April 2015, we wrote a review of Beasley's book, Misunderstood Nanny Dogs? The book examines the pit bull problem and offers an objective analysis of the facts and myths about pit bulls. The 2nd edition was released in December 2018 and contains new chapters about the abundance of unwanted pit bulls in shelters and the proliferation of fake service and support dogs, which has led to high profile vicious attacks by several "emotional support" pit bulls.

Beasley also updated statistics throughout the 2nd edition, as fatal maulings inflicted by pit bulls now exceeds over 100 new victims since the 1st edition was published. Purchase a copy for under $10 dollars or download the free Kindle version. As we stated four years ago, this short, easy to read version of the pit bull problem and the history of the pit bull breed is a must for supporters. It is a must for pit bull owners too; many of which have no knowledge of the breed's true heritage.


"I gladly and somberly dedicate this book to all of the victims of violent dog attacks, and their loved ones, that have had to endure the agony and trauma of such a horrible and tragic event, and to all those who stand up for them, despite a never-ending sea of hate and derision." - J. Thomas Beasley


Shelters and Rescues

The new chapter on shelters and rescues begins with a law passed in California mandating that all pets sold in pet stores be solely provided by shelters and rescues. Beasley discusses the "no-kill" movement and how it is worsening an animal rescue system already "buckling under its own weight." Beasley also discusses how some shelters are misleading the public by concealing aggression and dropping breed labels in order to adopt out pit bulls to unsuspecting families.

"We are reminded of the dangers associated with shelter misinformation and shady tactics all too often" ... All to "bolster their live release rate."

Beasley states the problem of unwanted and unadoptable pit bulls in shelters, which occupy up to 70% of shelter space in some open admission facilities, must be addressed by preventing new births. "This problem has to be addressed at the supply side, not the distribution side," Beasley states. If legislators and animal welfare groups truly want to help pit bulls, the relentless backyard breeding of these dogs must be controlled through mandatory spay and neuter legislation.

Fake Service Dogs, ESAs

In the service dog scam chapter, Beasley touches on the Delta attack in June 2017, where a fake service dog attacked a passenger in the face. This attack ushered in policy changes for airlines. In June 2018, Delta went even further by banning all pit bull-type dogs as service and support dogs after two employees were bitten by a passenger's "emotional support" pit bull.1 Beasley also touches on the viral New York City subway attack inflicted by a fake pit bull service dog.

"The problem, among others, is that there is no clear definition of what qualifies as an ESA, or what qualifies a person to have an ESA."

Due to the murky waters of emotional support animal (ESA) policies, compounded by for-profit entities that provide ESA letters via online assessment, Beasley writes, more people are trying to pass off untrained ESAs as a legitimate service animal. By definition, an ESA does not require any training; it's "sole function is to provide comfort" to a person with disabilities. Beasley also notes a study that examines the ethical and legal risks associated with psychologists certifying an ESA.2

Built Upon Many Sources

Beasley’s book is built upon many sources that he nicely weaves together, covering all of the key elements for a person new to this issue, while only briefly touching on the quagmire issues. In just over an hour, one can read his book and be armed with extensive insights about the nuts and bolts of the pit bull mauling epidemic, the true history of the pit bull breed, the primary false myths about pit bulls and the "mentality" of the echo-chamber of voices who continue repeating these myths.

Finally, as a theme expressed repeatedly throughout the book, Beasley ends with the starting point of how to begin advancing society beyond the pit bull mauling epidemic. The starting point to greatly reducing the number of maulings inflicted by pit bulls does not require breed-specific legislation. It just requires one thing -- being honest about this dog breed. We either do this as a society, or remain blind, unalarmed or "ignorant of the mass violence caused by these dogs."


"But mostly, we need to just start being honest about these dogs. Stop feeding biased propaganda to the public. Stop ignoring the inordinate number of dead and seriously injured people caused by Pit Bulls every year. Stop perpetuating myths about this breed - myths that were created to promote the breed by disingenuous and unqualified advocates." - J. Thomas Beasley


J Thomas Beasley Book ReviewJesse Thomas Beasley was born in Savannah, Georgia. He graduated from Armstrong State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration before moving to New Orleans, Louisiana to attend law school. Jesse's law practice focuses on public interest advocacy, including representing indigent clients in both civil and criminal proceedings, often on a pro bono basis. Read his full author bio »


1Comments of Delta Air Lines, Inc., on the Department of Transportation (DOT) Proposed Rule: Traveling by Air with Service Animals Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
2Younggren, J. N., Boisvert, J. A., & Boness, C. L. (2016). Examining emotional support animals and role conflicts in professional psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 47(4), 255-260.

Related articles:
03/04/19: Million Dollar Lawsuit: Mother of Child Mauled by an 'Emotional Support' Pit Bull...
04/14/17: Delta Passenger is Severely Attacked by an Unrestrained 'Emotional Support Dog'
04/01/15: Misunderstood Nanny Dogs? A Critical and Objective Analysis of the Facts & Myths...

Justice for Boomer: Family Shares Story After Two Unleashed Dogs Viciously Attacked and Killed Their Beloved Cat

The Outcome of the Legal Proceedings; A Bittersweet Deal

justice for boomer pit bull attack
Boomer was ravaged to death by unleashed dogs while lying outside his front door.

Beloved Cat Killed
Tomball, TX - On January 21, two loose dogs viciously attacked a cat named Boomer as it lay sleeping on the front door welcome mat of its home. Ray Gravenstein rushed outside to stop the dogs. The attack was captured by a ring doorbell camera on the family's front door. "I tried to rush to the vet, but never made it out of the driveway," Gravenstein said back then. The owners of the dogs quickly claimed "victimhood" due to the "fallout" on social media and refused comment.

Gravenstein's daughter Megan, who arrived at the scene after the lethal attack, provided a longer narrative to DogsBite, including the legal proceedings that followed. Her Twitter account provides more videos and photographs of the dreadful behavior of the caretaker of the dogs -- a female teenager who was house-sitting the dogs at the time. Like many victims of dog attacks, the Gravensteins were shocked by the violence then faced the cruel behavior that followed.

Megan shares her story with DogsBite.org to raise awareness and hopefully to save another pet's life. "I'm sharing this painful story in hopes to raise awareness," Megan wrote. "It won't bring our beloved kitty back, but at least it can maybe save another pet, or heaven forbid a child. They must be held accountable for their irresponsible, illegal, heartless actions. I'm in shock that people can be so cruel. I am hoping that something positive can come from this pain. I miss you Boomer."


The sunny morning of January 21st faded into midnight clouds with a call from my mom. Her voice was breaking, so instantly I knew something was wrong. I never could have envisioned it was this. She cried out that our beloved Boomer was gone. I screamed, "NO, is this a joke?" It had to have been. This doesn't happen to our family. This is something we see on TV and on social media. I threw on some clothes and drove the longest 20 minutes to my parent's house calling the cops on my way.

"He was a handsome Maine Coon, who had soul piercing emerald-green eyes with shimmering flecks of gold. He was a special part of our family for 10 years..."

Boomer was our family cat, but truthfully more so my dad's. He was a handsome Maine Coon, who had soul piercing emerald-green eyes with shimmering flecks of gold. He was a special part of our family for 10 years and came with an oversized personality. We would joke and say he was bipolar because one minute he was cuddling you, then in the next, looking at you as his second course. The stinker actually cornered me a few times growling and hissing. Luckily for me, he would eventually back off so I could execute my escape. However, those instances were seldom and when his PMS subsided, he was a huge furball of love. He was always an inside cat, but over the past few years had developed a love for being outside in the sunshine or captivated by the stars on a cool night. He was never allowed to stay out for very long, and our go-to method for luring him back in was his favorite treats. You just had to shake the container and shout "TUNA TREATS!" My parents battled with forcing him to stay in, which was a fight that wasn't always won. We just wanted him to be safe. Boomer never ventured far. We would find him either in the back behind our gate or right outside the front door. That's where he was when the tragedy took place. Innocently asleep on our front door welcome mat with his paws crossed.

My mom and dad heard a ruckus outside the front door and discovered a pit bull and boxer-mix attacking our cat. They were out LEASH-LESS with no owner. My dad began to shout and tried beating them off with his fists, a shoe, then my mom handed him one of those grab-it sticks that hardly fazed the persistent dogs. My parents didn't have anything substantial in reach to use in defense. They never imagined needing anything for this. My dad said whenever he got one dog off Boomer, the other dog would latch onto Boomer and the free dog would lunge at my dad. It was a tag-team attack. Those dogs were on a mission to do severe harm, and they weren't going to stop until they were satisfied. In the end, my dad sustained injuries to his hand, leaving it swollen and bruised.

"Both the mom and daughter were laughing about the situation! The girl gave me the finger, and while my dad was in the ambulance, she was clapping like it was all a joke."

Finally, a teenage girl came out from the house across the street and dragged the dogs inside. My mom proceeded to wrap Boomer up in a blanket to rush him to the ER vet. Unfortunately, he didn't make it out of the driveway. Our beloved kitty passed away. The entire vicious attack was caught on my parent's ring doorbell camera.

I pulled up to my parent's house as they were on their way back from our vet. I waited in my own personal pain bubble, as sadness forced its way through me like an unrelenting tornado. The constable arrived right after my parents. He knocked on their door, but cowardly no one would answer, even though we both saw someone peeking through the blinds. The constable said that was illegal. Although, in the end, they weren't cited for it.
About 20 minutes later, and after more police arrived, the teenage girl's mother drove up to discover they were house-sitting for the dogs' owners who were out of town. She stumbled over her "defense," accusing us of over exaggerating when she found out it was all caught on video. While showing her the footage, she announced something that shot a fire of anger through my veins. It was, "Well, It's just a cat!" she said. He was OUR cat!! They had zero remorse for what the dogs had done. Both the mom and daughter were laughing about the situation! The girl gave me the finger, and while my dad was in the ambulance, she was clapping like it was all a joke. We were not behaving in any threatening manner to deserve that heartless response.

The sitters were not ticketed for anything because they were not the owners. Plus, they claimed they didn't know how the dogs got out. Who cares how? The point is they were responsible for the dogs at the time, and therefore deserve to be held accountable for their illegal, irresponsible actions. We were advised to take them to court and file under the Dangerous Dog Act, so that's what we did.

"The judge was nice but he didn't read into our case. He didn't even look at the ring doorbell video. I thought I was in the twilight zone!"

The hearing for Boomer was on Valentine's Day, a celebration that will never be the same again. It's supposed to be a time of love and joy, instead it brought us pain and fear. The house-sitters were not present. Just the owners of the dogs, who brought an inconsiderate, cheeky lawyer. On our side, it was the three of us -- my mom, dad and myself -- and we brought our truth. With the judge's request, we discussed things privately to come up with an agreement. Of course, the dogs' owners were apologetic. Preaching it was out of the dogs' character, they're very sweet, trustworthy around kids, have never gotten out before and will not get loose again. They also apologized for the repulsive behavior the house-sitters inflicted, and said they would not be allowed to watch the dogs anymore. Their biggest concern was the dogs being declared dangerous. They would have to invest in some hefty extra fees and follow a lot of strict rules. For example, implanted microchips, having to be walked with a muzzle and a bright collar that says a "Dangerous Dog" on it. They must be on a leash at all times and be kept in an enclosed secure area preventing escape. In addition, they could not take the dogs to a public park.

The owners wanted to come up with a deal in exchange for my family to stop pursuing the case any further. This brings us into the final steps of justice for Boomer. My parents were contemplating moving from their home of 27 years, which was not their first choice. My mom just wants to feel safe and not have to worry when taking their dog Gizmo out. So they wanted to put up a wrought iron gated fence along their property. Their lawyer offered $1,500 the owners would pay towards a fence. I spoke up and said, "NO. That's pointless!" Suddenly, their lawyer was interested to know who I was!

My parents came back with a final offer, which also included paying for Boomer's cremation and the rabies shot my dad had to get. If they did not agree to take our final offer, my parents would move forward with the Dangerous Dog declaration. In conclusion, the dogs' owners took the deal. It wasn't much; Boomer is priceless. They got to bring their dogs home from a mandatory hold, while we went home to no Boom Boom. If you ask me, they got off incredibly lucky.

"I'm so furious that due to their careless actions of not properly containing the dogs, he will forever have that traumatic image in his head of this soul-crushing event."

My heart literally breaks for my dad. He is devastated. Boomer meant so much to him, and they had an incredible bond. He would lounge on his chest, watch TV together and nap. Wherever my dad was, his partner in crime followed. He could always put the biggest smile on my dad's face, especially when he needed it the most while recovering from his cancer treatments. I'm so furious that due to their careless actions of not properly containing the dogs, he will forever have that traumatic image in his head of this soul-crushing event. He will always think, and wish, there was more he could have done to save his best friend. Painfully there just wasn't. The heart wrenching part is that this was easily preventable. Boomer's story may be over now legally, but emotionally it's just beginning. We will miss you, and love you to infinity. To make heaven the perfect resting place for loved ones we adore, God made sure those pearly gates contained a kitty door.

-Megan Gravenstein
justice for boomer pit bull attack

Family fights for Justice for Boomer after beloved cat is brutally killed by two unleashed dogs.


Despite the dramatic video footage of the attack, the true trauma, panic and helplessness to save Boomer experienced by Megan's parents are only partially witnessed. You hear more of this depth in Linda Gravenstein's voice when she talks about being afraid to go out to her own car after the attack. As Megan states, the legal aspect of Boomer's attack is now over, but the emotional parts are just beginning. "To be mauled to death like that. It's just not right," Ray said about Boomer.

Related articles:
11/19/18: Mother Shares Story After Rescue 'Lab-Mix' Bites Son in the Face During Visitation...
03/18/16: Thank You Letter: Experienced Dog Trainer Shares Attack Story & Professional Opinion

2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Attack, Kill Owner While She Visited Her Dogs in Bite Quarantine Facility

bite quarantine pit bulls kill
Johana Villafane, 33, died after her own pit bulls attacked her in Irving, Texas.

Vet Issues Statement
UPDATE 03/27/19: The veterinarian at O'Connor Animal Hospital, where Johana Villafane was brutally killed by her two pit bulls on March 23, and where the dogs had been staying in quarantine after a March 15 bite, has a released a statement. Dr. James Kang, DVM, stated Villafane's dogs were so aggressive his staff could not walk them and told Villafane the clinic could not keep her dogs due to their aggressive behavior, unless Villafane herself would walk them twice a day.

Dr. Kang's statement, however, must be weighed against another revelation. On Tuesday, London Pinder, a North Texas college student, told media outlets she was almost killed by a dog at the O'Connor Animal Hospital 15 months ago while working as an intern. A pit bull she was trying to put a leash on suddenly pinned her down and latched onto her neck. The dog nearly hit an artery. Pinder filed a dangerous dog report with Irving Police, but only got an apology from Dr. Kang.

Part of Dr. Kang's statement:

She brought 2 dogs for rabies quarantine in our office on March 18th 2019. I examined the 2 dogs at the time of admission. The male pit bull terrier was friendly, but the female pit bull terrier seemed to be scared as well as frightened. The next morning, our staff could not walk them in the backyard due to the dogs' aggressive behavior. We called the owner and told her that we could not keep her dogs in our hospital for quarantine due to their aggressive behavior, and the dogs will only be able to stay at our hospital unless she is able to walk them. Their family came to the office, twice a day, walking their dogs for a whole week without any incident.

Johana came into our office at 11am on Saturday, March 23rd 2019 to walk her two dogs.

She let them out in the backyard at 11:10am. We were very busy taking care of clients and patients all morning that we were unable to hear any noise or screaming that occurred in the backyard. One of our receptionists saw her laying in the grass in our backyard at 11:45am. She called 911 immediately for assistance. We were trying to reach her, trying to rescue her but were not successful because the two dogs were guarding her. Paramedics came in at 11:50am but could not get to her until the police arrived at 11:52am. The police discharged their weapons and shot the two dogs, then the paramedics attended to her and took her immediately to Parkland Emergency Hospital.

All parties involved in this sordid tale appear to be hopelessly clueless about dangerous aggression issues and the "select few" types of owners -- behaviorists, trainers and game dog breeders -- who could ever reliably manage such aggression. Villafane obviously did not fit the bill nor did any employee at Kang's animal hospital. Pinder, who was a teenager at the time, said staff members only had a "broom" available to fight off the pit bull that was clamped onto her neck.

911 Call Released

On April 1, CBS 11 published the 911 call made by an employee of the animal hospital. She states, "The dog bit her owner; she's on the floor." Over one minute into the call, the dispatcher is still trying to understand how urgent the call is. Finally, at 1:16 there is an indicator by the caller, "She's full of blood." At 2:25, dispatch asks, "What kind of dog is it?" She replies, "Pit bulls -- they're big." The dispatcher then realizes there are two pit bulls involved and wraps up the call.

CBS 11 reports there is surveillance video of the deadly pit bull attack. Police will not release the video due to its graphic nature, unless the Texas Attorney General requires it. A source also told CBS 11 the attack lasted 31 minutes before anyone at the animal hospital became aware of it. Now consider the statement by the caller again, "The dog bit her owner; she's on the floor." After a sustained mauling of 31 minutes by two pit bulls, Villafane would have been unrecognizable.


03/25/19: City Shelter At Capacity
Because the Irving Animal Shelter was at capacity for quarantine space, Johana Villafane, 33, boarded her two pit bulls at an Irving animal hospital, where the dogs fatally attacked her during a visit Saturday. The city-operated shelter would not have allowed her to visit during quarantine, police said. Villafane died after being mauled by her two pit bulls at the O’Connor Animal Hospital in Irving. Her two pit bulls had been ordered into quarantine after biting a man eight days earlier.

On March 15, the dogs escaped their property and attacked a man in his 20s, Public Information Officer James McLellan said. That night Villafane met police and animal control officers at her home on Windmill Lane. She was issued citations for having dogs at large and for not having rabies tags, McLellan said. The bite required her dogs to be quarantined for a 10-day period. Because the Irving Animal Shelter was "at capacity," Villafane was provided other alternatives.

Neighbor Grant Dickey, who spoke out earlier, clarified the length of time Villafane and her family had moved in -- about a year earlier. Dickey said he had several encounters with her dogs since then, including when the dogs broke through his fencing (on a previous occasion) and pushed through his back door, which apparently was not latched fully. Dickey took this photo of his damaged back fence after the March 15 incident, which involved a young man being bitten.

The dogs were about a year old, according to Public Information Officer James McLellan. The dogs are described as a black-and-white male pit bull, named Oliver, and a brown-and-white female pit bull, named Delfina. The police description matches the two pit bulls seen on a family member's Facebook page. The severity of injuries inflicted on the man in his 20s remains unknown. The Facebook fund for Johana Villafane has exceeded $15,500 in two days.


bite quarantine pit bulls kill

Two pit bulls that killed their owner while in bite quarantine for an attack eight days earlier.


03/24/19: Previous Biting Incident
New information has been release about the previous biting incident that caused both pit bulls to be ordered into quarantine. On Saturday, while 33-year old Johana Villafane was visiting her dogs in quarantine at a private animal hospital, the dogs fatally mauled her. The attack occurred when Villafane took them for a walk in an enclosed area behind the building. The first biting incident involved her pit bulls eating through a neighbor's fence and escaping into the neighborhood.

"A whole bunch of police and animal control people showed up to my house," Grant Dickey said. "They had seen the pit bulls going in and out of the hole that they made in my back fence and asked me if they were my dogs," Dickey said. "I said 'no, it's the neighbor's dogs. They broke through into my yard earlier.' And they said, 'well they bit somebody when they got out." Dickey said the dogs were "friendly, but aggressively friendly if you will. Jumping on you," Dickey said.

It is unknown who the first bite victim is or the severity of injuries the person suffered. Villafane's pair of pit bulls was a male and female. Previously, Public Information Officer James McLellan told WBAP the female pit bull was pregnant and attacked along with the male. Neighbor Rick Warner stated Saturday that Villafane and her family were new to the neighborhood on Windmill Lane. In 2018, 25% of all fatal attacks involved a dog or person new to a household (0-2 month period).

03/23/19: Pit Bulls Kill Their Owner
Irving, TX - A woman is dead after being attacked by her own pit bulls outside of an animal hospital. Police officers shot and killed the dogs. Johana Natalie Villafane, 33, was transported to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where she later died. The attack occurred outside of O'Conner Animal Hospital, where the dogs were being held in quarantine after a bite earlier this week, Irving Police said. Animal hospital staff allowed Villafane to visit the dogs while they were in quarantine.

Animal hospital staff told police the pit bulls attacked her when she took them for a walk in an enclosed area behind the building, reports NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. An employee found her unresponsive with severe dog bite injuries. The dogs would not let animal hospital staff, fire or police officials near the victim. Police were forced to fire on the dogs, killing them. Irving police confirmed both dogs were pit bulls. Police are characterizing the attack as a "tragic accident."

The attack occurred about 11:45 am Saturday. Fox 4 News spoke to Irving Police Officer David Dickinson. "The dogs were involved in an incident earlier in the month in which they bit someone," Dickinson said. "They were here at the animal hospital being quarantined per regulations. She was attending to the dogs, coming up to the dogs, and it’s my understanding that she was walking the dogs when the event occurred." We expect significant news coverage in the coming days.

Previous Biting Incident

Police have not released details about the previous biting incident, but neighbors offered clues. Rick Warner, who lives down the street from Villafane, said he saw a marked Animal Services vehicle at Villafane's house recently. "Lights were flashing the entire time it was down there," Warner said. "We didn't know why, we didn't ask why, we didn't go down to find out why." Neighbors said Villafane and her family were new to the neighborhood on Windmill Lane.

Multiple news reports state the pair of pit bulls was a male and female. The Public Information Officer for Irving Police, James McLellan, told WBAP the female pit bull was pregnant and attacked with the male. Investigators will be looking into how long the pit bulls had been part of the family and whether they were adopted or raised from puppies. Villafane was a wife and mother of two children. A photograph on her husband's Facebook page shows the two family pit bulls.


bite quarantine pit bulls kill

Irving Police Officer David Dickinson gives press conference after pit bulls killed their owner.

bite quarantine pit bulls kill

Johana Villafane died after her pit bulls attacked her during quarantine for a previous bite.

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google State Map: Texas Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Join Texas Dog Bite Victims' Advocacy - Join our Texas email list to stay informed

Related articles:
02/02/18: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: 22-Year Old Woman Dies in 'Grisly Mauling' by Own Pit Bulls
08/11/13: Father of Pregnant Pacifica Woman Killed by Her Pet Pit Bull Writes Letter


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: Two-Year Old Boy Mauled to Death by Two Roaming Rottweilers in Fresno, California

roaming rottweilers kill Jaysiah Chavez fresno
Jaysiah Chavez, 2-years old, was killed by two roaming rottweilers in Fresno.

Child Identified
UPDATE 03/25/19: A young boy killed by two roaming rottweilers in Fresno on Friday has been identified. Jaysiah Chavez, 2-years old, was attacked by the dogs while alone in front of his home about 11:00 am. His grandmother rushed outside to save him and was also bitten. The boy's grandfather was able to stop the attack by hitting the dogs with a pipe hose. The dogs were located a few blocks away and taken into custody. Earlier reports said the boy was one-year old.

The rottweilers escaped through a gaping hole under the owner's fencing. Theresa Davis, who lives next to the rottweilers, said the dogs had a history of digging themselves out. Davis told ABC 13 she discovered the newest hole a few days ago. She said she repeatedly voiced her concerns and even placed a garbage can over the newest hole. Davis said she had called animal control in the past. Central California SPCA said they have no record of complaints on the dogs' owners.

Friends have started a GoFundMe to help the family: In Loving Memory of Jaysiah

03/22/19: Police Press Conference
Fresno, CA - A 1-year old boy is dead after being attacked by two rottweilers in southeast Fresno. His grandmother was injured trying to save the boy. About 11:00 am Friday, police responded to a home in the 5900 block of East Kaviland Avenue. Officers found the boy in critical condition and began CPR on the child. He was transported to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to Lt. Mark Hudson with the Fresno Police Department.

The investigation determined the boy wandered out of the family's home and into the front yard where the rottweilers attacked him. Other children in the home alerted the grandmother. She rushed outside and saw the two dogs attacking the boy. When she tried to get the dogs off the boy, the rottweilers attacked her, Hudson said during a press conference Friday. The boy's grandfather was able to get the dogs off the boy and his grandmother. The dogs then fled, Hudson said.

"It took the grandfather also coming out of the house to hit these dogs with the hose to get them to release the child." - Lt. Mark Hudson

The dogs were captured and taken into custody by the SPCA. Police continue to look for the owners of the two roaming rottweilers. "We do have officers in the neighborhood right now knocking on doors, seeing if anyone knows of these two dogs," Hudson said. Fox 26 reports the owner of the rottweilers was later located and relinquished ownership of the animals. Both dogs will be euthanized Friday afternoon. The owner said the dogs "dug under the fence" to get out.

Rottweiler Owner's Property

Footage from ABC 13 shows the property where rottweilers lived and a gaping hole under the owner's fencing. Investigators say the dogs dug a hole under the fence Friday morning, ran through a neighbor's yard, crossed Sunnyside and ended up in the front yard of the 1-year old boy. Theresa Davis, the next-door neighbor of the owner of the rottweilers, recognized the dogs on TV right away. "These dogs have been in our neighborhood for eight or nine years," Davis said.

Davis told ABC 13 the dogs have a history of digging themselves out. "Primarily on the back fence. They've come out the side gate of this property. And then recently, we discovered that hole a couple of days ago," Davis said. Fresno animal control claims they have no record of complaints on the rottweilers' owners. Davis said she repeatedly voiced her concerns; she even placed a garbage can over the recent gaping hole. Davis said she had called animal control in the past.

No criminal charges are pending against the rottweilers' owners. Because in Fresno, it's acceptable for a pair of large dogs -- rottweilers no less -- to repeatedly dig out from under a fence, roam the neighborhood and maul and kill a child who is in its own yard. Central California SPCA (CCSPCA), who provides animal control services to the city, told ABC 13 the owners have agreed "not to adopt" or to have any dog "that is considered dangerous" for the next three years.

roaming rottweilers kill boy fresno

ABC 13 footage shows a gaping hole under the owners fence where the rottweilers escaped.

roaming rottweilers kill boy fresno

The pair of rottweilers seen in quarantine after killing a 1-year old boy in Fresno, California.

roaming rottweilers kill boy in fresno

A small memorial for Jaysiah Chavez, who was mauled to death by two roaming rottweilers.

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: U.S. Fatal Rottweiler Attacks By State

Related articles:
03/22/19: Fatal Rottweiler Attacks - The Archival Record - DogsBite.org
12/18/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Rottweilers Kill Grandmother, Injure Two Grandchildren...
05/07/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Baby Killed by Family Dog While Under Her Grandmother's Care


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.