An uncle of the Eastpointe boy who was killed Wednesday by the family pit bull urged parents to "get rid" of pit bulls so they or their children don’t become the next victim of a fatal attack. "There’s no good to come out of these dogs," Terrence Lovejoy said during a news conference held at the Eastpointe police station. Like many other victims, he also added, "[This] does not have to happen to anyone else." The family had raised their 5-year old male pit bull from birth, Lovejoy said.
Lovejoy said his brother and sister-in-law, who are in their 40s according to police, have been married about 17 years, and had tried for years to have a child. He said, "God blessed" them with a son. They were preparing for his first birthday party on May 3. Lovejoy described the attack in the following way: "The dog "didn’t growl, didn’t bark," just walked over and grabbed the child, who was standing on a bed," reports the Detroit Free Press. The boy's father shot and killed the dog.
The father used a registered 45-caliber handgun. He also had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, police said. The father fired eight shots at the dog, police said. Lovejoy said the pit bull was kept in the house and was familiar with the couple and the child. Lovejoy called the attack "a sneak attack the dog did on my nephew." Eastpointe Police Lt. Leo Borowsky said the case remains under investigation. There is no record of the dog attacking anyone before, he said.
No Warning Signals -- Just Attack
Documented evidence shows that due to selective breeding practices for the purposes of dogfighting, pit bulls attack "unpredictably" and often fail to communicate intention prior to an attack. Specifically, there may be no growl, bark or direct stare -- just a "surprise attack." Please read page 133 from The Ethology and Epidemiology of Canine Aggression, by Randall Lockwood. This evidence was used to uphold the City and County of Denver's pit bull ban.
In addition to a lowered threshold for attack and higher pain tolerance in many fighting animals, selection for fighting has apparently resulted in the disruption of normal communications in individuals from recent fighting lineages. Under natural conditions, the aggression of wild canids is held in check by a detailed set of postural and facial signals that clearly indicate mood and intent (Fox, 1971a; Schenkel, 1967) In addition, aggressive encounters are normally ended rapidly, when one individual emits the appropriate ‘cut-off’ behavior, such as infantile vocalizations (whining, yelping) and submissive displays (Fox, 1971b). Dogs from fighting lineages have been under selective pressures that suppress or eliminate accurate communication of aggressive motivation or intent. It is to a fighting dog’s advantage for its attack to be unexpected. Many accounts of such attacks on people not that the incident occurred ‘without warning’. Similarly, once initiated, such attacks are often not ended by the withdrawal of the opponent or the display of the species-typical submissive behavior. Combat involving fighting dogs can continue for several hours and separation of the animals may require the use of a “parting stick” to physically pry the animals apart. - Randall Lockwood
- "One City's Experience Denver: Why Pit Bulls are More Dangerous and Breed Specific Law is Justified," by Kory A. Nelson, Municipal Lawyer, (2005)
- "Dog Bite Prevention for Law Enforcement Officers and Other First Responders," by Randall Lockwood, PhD, Tawzer Dog Videos (2004)
- The Care of Pit Bulls in the Shelter Environment," by Leslie D, Appel, DVM, ASPCA (2004)
- "Do's and Don'ts Concerning Vicious Dogs," by D.A. Clifford, DVM, MPH, PhD, AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust (1993)
04/23/09: Fatal Attack Investigation Unfolds
Police have not identified the 11-month old boy who was mauled to death by his family's pit bull or the child's parents. The attack occurred in the 22000 block of Nevada about 2:45 pm Wednesday. Neighbor Ron Baumgartner, 57, said he was home when he saw the police speed up to the house. "I saw her with her head in her hands, going berserk," he said of the child's mother. He added that she stood on the porch and screamed, "The dog got the baby by the head, by the head!"
Baumgartner, a longtime resident of the area, said the couple -- whom neighbors refer to as Earl and Felicia -- rented the house about a year ago. He and other neighbors said the couple was told they couldn't have children, so they were excited when they learned Felicia was pregnant. "It was a miracle child," he said. He also said that the couple "watched that kid like a hawk." I can't believe that dog got near that child, Baumgartner said. Police continue to investigate the boy's death.
The Detroit Free Press article depicts a "Beware of Dog" sign on the couple's fence. According to the city's online code (Section 610-11), pit bulls are declared "vicious." in Eastpointe.
04/22/09: Father Shoots Dog After Attack
Eastpointe, MI - A family's pit bull fatally mauled a 1-year old child and the boy's father killed the dog, officials say. Eastpointe Fire Chief Danny Hagen said the only way they were able to get the dog to release the (child) was to shoot the dog. The dog locked onto the kids head, Hagen said. The child's father used a handgun to shoot the dog when it attacked the baby. Police Detective Lt. Leo Borowski said the dog was not licensed in the city. The incident is still under investigation.
The names of the boy and his father have not been released. It is unknown if charges will be filed.
04/01/09: 2009 Fatality: 7-Month Old Boy Killed by Grandmother's Pit Bulls
03/31/09: 2009 Fatality: 2-Year Old Boy Killed by Pit Bull in Luling, TX
09/09/08: Top Dog Experts Fooled and Surprised by Pit Bulls