Dade County, FL - In what may be one of the earliest recorded cases of an adult fatally attacked by dogs in the U.S., Doretta Zinke was brutally killed by a pack of pit bulls May 16, 1945. Headlines of the grisly attack covered hundreds of newspapers. Florida authorities were horrified by the attack. They acted fast by arresting the owner of the dogs, Joe Munn, and killing the dogs. These events occur 10 days after Germany surrenders unconditionally in World War II.
Death due to a violent pit bull attack was widely known by Americans in 1945.
05/18/45: 9 Dogs Attack and Kill Woman
Miami, Fla., May 17, -- (AP) -- Federal, state and county investigations were launched today Into the death of Mrs. Doretta Zinke, 39-year old lecturer and war defense plant worker, who died within 90 minutes after a mass attack by nine bull pit terriers.
Joe Munn, 43, of Hialeah, owner of the dogs, was subjected to lengthy questioning in the Dade county Jail where he is being held on a charge of manslaughter.
Leon Shaffer of the state attorney's office, said he had found "several discrepancies" in Munn's story of the strange episode -- believed to be one of the few recorded cases of an adult human being fatally attacked by dogs.
Stripped Nude by Attack.
Terribly mutilated from head to foot but still conscious, Mrs. Zinke was found at 8 o'clock last night by two army air force enlisted men. She was lying, stripped nude by the attack, in a lonely field near the army transmitter station outside Miami Springs.
"Dogs! Dogs!" the woman whispered when the soldiers asked what had happened.
Mrs. Zinke, whose husband is said to live on Long Island, N. Y., retained consciousness long enough to dictate a will leaving everything to her son, Sergeant R. M. Zinke, who is stationed at Mitchel Field, LI. Constable W.M. Hudson of Dade county said he had found stocks and bonds worth at least $20,000 among the woman's possessions.
Dogs Held in Pound.
Questioned about the dogs today, Munn was quoted by police as saying: "They are a bad strain. They must be destroyed." Tonight the dogs accused of the brute killing were held in the Miami pound awaiting their fate.
Police said it was not immediately known whether Munn customarily permitted the dogs to roam at large in the fields, but declared several complaints had been lodged against the owner on charges that his dogs had attacked children.
Police Justice Henry L. Oppenborn set a bond of $5,000 for Munn and ordered a preliminary hearing for him tomorrow. An autopsy was also ordered on the victim's body.
Associated Press, "9 Dogs Attack and Kill Woman," Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO, May 18, 1945.
05/19/45: Dogs That Killed Woman Are Shot
Miami. Fla., May 18. -- (AP) -- A pack of 26 bull pit terriers, some just two months old, paid with their lives today for the fatal attack by nine of the dogs on Mrs. Doretta Zinke, 39 years old. globetrotting lecturer, here last Wednesday.
Constable W. M. Hudson of Dade County did an examination of the stomachs of four of the terriers revealed the presence of "balls of human hair, unquestionably belonging to a woman."
Pieces of leather, identified as parts of a woman's shoe, were found in the stomachs of other dogs in the pack which set upon Mrs. Zinke and terribly mutilated her in a mass attack.
It was not necessary to get a court order to carry out the execution of the entire pack of dogs. Owner Joe Munn, 43, of Hialeah, who cried "Oh, my God!" when he saw what his terriers had done, willingly gave permission.
Barked and Snarled.
"They are a bad strain, they must be destroyed," he told police.
Fifteen of the older dogs were shot. The dogs barked and snarled, but made no attempt to attack the executioners.
Eleven small puppies were removed in a big clothes basket to a Miami veterinarian's gas chamber and put to death. Meanwhile, the humane society received hundreds of telephone calls from people asking that the society intervene in the killing of the animals.
Humane officials said they were carrying out the order of authorities who with disinterested veterinarians deemed the dogs of the "most vicious type." Prior to the attack on Mrs. Zinke, they had been accused of attacking other people within the past week.
Munn valued his kennel at $1,000. He said he bred the dogs to sell and denied they had been used for pit fighting.
Munn remained in the county jail under $5,000 bond on a warrant charging manslaughter. An inquest has been set for Monday. County Prosecutor Robert Taylor said he would decide what to do after weighing the evidence.
Associated Press, "Dogs That Killed Woman Are Shot," Joplin Globe, May 19, 1945.
The confusion of the "pit bull" name is evident as early as 1945. The dogs are called: pit bull terriers, bull pit terriers, pit terriers and bulldogs throughout the various articles. Part II will cover the trial of Joe Munn, which takes place one week after the fatal attack.
12/29/08: Part III: Doretta Zinke, 39, Killed by 9 Pit Bulls (1945)
12/07/08: Part II: Doretta Zinke, 39, Killed by 9 Pit Bulls (1945)
11/29/08: Part I: Doretta Zinke, 39, Killed by 9 Pit Bulls (1945)