From left: Joe Munn, Charles Smallwood, Doretta Zinke, Jennifer Lowe.
Dade County, FL - On May 16, 1945, Doretta Zinke was savagely killed by a pack of pit bulls in the state of Florida. Headlines of the grisly attack covered newspapers across the county. Authorities seized and killed Joe Munn's 27 dogs. Deputy Sheriff Mark Richardson testified that Munn admitted he had been raising fighting dogs and that he knew the dogs were vicious. Munn was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in jail. He served one year and was released on parole.
Ten years later, we learn that he continued to raise dangerous bulldogs. In 1955, two of Munn's dogs bolt out of his dry cleaning establishment and attack a senior citizen's dog. Harry Smalley, 73, tried to save his dog, and by doing so, got injured in the attack. Munn tells reporters that the recent attack was "something that happens once in a million years." This is after his previous set of dogs killed a human being, bit children and attacked horses and their riders.
In the lifespan of Munn, how many people and pets did his dogs injure or kill? This is a question that can't easily be answered. Based on his track record, however, we can presume quite a few. Dog laws didn't effectively deal with Munn in the last century and few laws do in our century today. In the mass majority of cities, "repeat offending" owners of dangerous dogs are free to buy and breed these animals after multiple serious and even fatal attacks.
In the 2007 deadly attack of Jennifer Lowe, the dogs had previously been deemed dangerous. Knox County animal control said they "routinely" checked on the dogs owned by Charles Smallwood. Jennifer Lowe, 21, suffered the grave misfortune of being left alone in his house with the dogs. She paid with her life. After the attack, authorities killed Smallwood's 5 dogs. It was not long, however, that rumors sprung up saying Smallwood had purchased brand new pit bulls.
The only unique aspect to the 1945 fatal mauling is that Munn was convicted within days of the crime and actually served one year in jail.
04/03/55: Man Tells Cops 'Killer' Dogs Attacked Him
MIAMI, Fla., April 2 (AP) -- Harry Smalley, 73, complained to police today that a bulldog belonging to Joe Munn bit him severely Thursday.
Munn, 54, was sentenced to five years for manslaughter in 1947 because his pit bulls bit Mrs. Doretta Zinke to death. Munn served a year and was released on parole.
The dog owner said the newest incident was "very unfortunate; something that happens once in a million years." He said only one of his two dogs was involved.
SMALLEY DECLARED that he was walking his own dog Patsy, when Munn's animals ran from his dry cleaning establishment and attacked the leashed canine. Smalley tried to drive them off, and said one of the animals bit his arm and finger.
Passersby took off their coats and beat the dogs off, it was reported. Smalley was treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital and released.
Mrs. Zinke was literally torn to pieces May 16, 1945, by a pack of pit bulls. Fifteen of Munn's dogs were ordered shot after that incident.
Associated Press, "Man Tells Cops 'Killer' Dogs Attacked Him," The Charleston Gazette, April 3, 1955.
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)