A Bloody Mess
UPDATE 01/19/15: In what can only be described as a "bloody mess," more news about the December 15 fatal dog mauling of pit bull rescuer Rita Woodard was reported Monday. Police and animal control were called back out to the home where Woodard was discovered bitten, bloody and dead in December. At that time, authorities seized 17 dogs at Woodard's home that she had rescued. Authorities euthanized four pit bull-mixes they believed inflicted the deadly attack.1
For the Love of Strays, a rescue group that Woodard had fostered many dogs for, immediately seized upon the tragedy of her death by calling on the public to donate to their organization to ensure that four of Woodard's remaining dogs, called her "personal dogs" -- pit bulls and pit bull-mixes -- could find homes. All four were dog aggressive. For the Love of Strays has since deleted this post from their Facebook page, it was originally published on December 20, 2014.
On Friday, January 16, 2015 gunshots rang out at Woodard's former home. According to neighbors, two friends of Woodard's relatives had been staying at her residence caretaking two rescue dogs that remained after her death (the KIII-TV segment does not clarify if either of these dogs was amongst Rita's "personal" four that the rescue group was trying to adopt out). The two dogs attacked each other causing severe injuries, so the caretakers shot and killed both dogs.
Investigators said the two dogs were shot in the head and buried in the backyard. The carcasses of the animals were exhumed and bagged up by Animal Care Services. As the animal cruelty investigation continues, Animal Care Services will work with the police department about potential charges against the caretakers. Rita deeply cared for the many pit bulls she rescued and also acknowledged publicly on some of her Facebook posts that many were "DA" (dog aggressive).
This dangerous behavior is likely how she got killed -- she was trying to break up a fight amongst her multiple pit bull rescues. The animals then began attacking her. At her death scene, one dog (pit bull or otherwise) was so badly injured by the attacking pack of pit bull-mixes that it had to be put down. Just several weeks later, an animal cruelty investigation has been launched against the friends of relatives assigned to care for two dogs she had been living with at the time of her death.
"Rainbow Bridge" Update
On Tuesday, a day after KIII-TV aired this segment, we uncovered the identity of the two pit bulls involved in the animal cruelty investigation. The two dogs, Roscoe and Kaja, were indeed part of Rita's four "personal" dogs that For the Love of Strays was trying to place after her death. Notably, the December 20 post that For the Love of Strays has since removed states, "Roscoe does get along with Kaja." However, Rita was quite open that Kaja (the tree climber) was dog aggressive.
"That's my special baby Kaja Brat. Not allowed around other dogs." - Rita Ross Woodard, October 13, 2014, Facebook.com
On the KIII-TV Facebook post about the animal cruelty investigation, one of Rita's friends, Jennifer Lutz Pulver, comments about the two dead pit bulls: "They were her own dogs! Not fosters!" Pulver was a founding member of For the Love of Strays, according to a January 2010 newsletter. Pulver also worked with the rescue group at least through October 2013, according to her Facebook photo album, which lists her contact information on a fundraising flyer for the group.
The conversation about KIII-TV's recent news segment continues onto Woodard's personal Facebook page, where Alice Buttler clarifies the identities of the two dead pit bulls further. "I know that Rita welcomed Roscoe & Kaja at the Rainbow Bridge but she is super pissed about how they got there." Buttler also states that she wants to see a new photograph of Woodard's remaining two pit bulls -- Duke and Echo -- to ensure the dogs are safe and being taken care of properly.
"Bloody Mess" Summarized
For the Love of Strays rescue portrayed Roscoe and Kaja as two pit bulls that "got along" with each other despite Woodard saying as recently as October that Kaja was not allowed around other dogs. Woodard lost her life due to pit bull dog aggression and so have other rescuers who intervened to break up an explosive pit bull fight. Even after the loss of her life, in fact just a few days later, on December 20, the rescue group was peddling out four dog aggressive pit bulls.
Also recall that the director of For the Love of Strays, Melissa Rizzo, became a self-appointed "expert" after Woodard's death. Rizzo was highlighted in multiple news stories as gathering donations for Woodard's four "personal" pit bulls so that her group could adopt them out. Rizzo even went on camera to explain to the public how safe "large breeds" are and how she had "never heard about this happening before" -- a pit bull rescuer being killed by her own rescue dogs.
Rizzo is not an expert or even responsible. Woodard had 17 large breeds in her home at the time of her death, many of which were dog aggressive pit bulls. This was not seen as hazardous by Rizzo or anyone else working at For the Love of Strays. Coupling Roscoe and Kaja together, both dog aggressive, was an appalling decision as well. The truth is, rescue junkies like Rizzo are making extremely poor decisions about literally deadly animals with no oversight or regulation.
Now Rita Woodard is dead, along with two of her "personal" dog aggressive pit bulls that the self-appointed experts at For the Love of Strays were supposed to be keeping safe after her death. The only thing missing from this "bloody mess" now, since evolving into an animal cruelty investigation, are the self-appointed experts like Rizzo who refused to admit the dangerous temperament of these dogs or make the hard, but responsible decision not to adopt them out.
12/16/14: Medical Examiner Report
Corpus Christi, TX - A 64-year old woman was discovered dead in her home Monday night after being attacked by dogs she was fostering. The Nueces County Medical Examiner determined that Rita Woodard, also known as Rita Ross, died from a heart attack after multiple dog bites. Authorities believe five of the 17 dogs she had been fostering inflicted the attack. The same five also nearly killed another one her dogs during the attack; it was put down due to severe injuries.
The Medical Examiner released a report Tuesday evening stating that Woodard had died from coronary artery atherosclerosis after suffering multiple dog bites. According to Corpus Christi Police Department Commander John Houston, who supervises Animal Care Services, five of the 17 dogs found at her home are believe to be responsible for the attack. All five dogs will likely be euthanized. The video shows multiple images of pit bulls being taken away by animal control.
Many of the dogs -- presumably at the time of the attack -- were in cages. Four have already been turned over to an adoption group Woodard was linked to. The eight remaining dogs will be turned over to her son, who lives out-of-state. Woodard was devoted to helping unwanted dogs find "forever" homes and spent much time helping the rescue group, For the Love of Strays, who is already asking for donations to help care for the four dogs they took in after Woodard's death.
Late Evening Update
After publishing the initial post, we reviewed Woodard's Facebook page. Her photo album is filled to the brim with photographs of rescued pit bulls -- her profile image is of one of her pit bulls, rescued or otherwise, climbing a tree. This is not unique pit bull behavior. YouTube is filled with videos of proud pit bull owners filming their dogs climbing up and down trees. Back in August, Woodard noted on Facebook that two pit bulls, apparently under her care, had also escaped.
Woodard had at least 17 dogs in her home. No media reports so far have stated that this was unusual or against city code nor have they explained any relevant city codes. With 17 dogs in her home, her situation was indeed questionable -- that most of these dogs were pit bulls is worse. One of the pit bulls seen in the video was previously nursing, so part of the 17 dogs could have included puppies. Notably, the tan pit bull seen in the video also appears to be the tree climber.
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11/04/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Pembroke 'Dog Rescuer' Killed by Rescued Pit Bulls
08/17/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: 23-Year Old 'Dog Rescuer' Mauled to Death by Own Dogs
04/06/12: Week of Escalating Violent Attacks by Rescued and Adopted Pit Bulls
Her Facebook page shows that 99.9% of the dogs she rescued were pit bulls.
Yep, she had more pictures of pits on her FB page than I have attention span.
Pit Bull, the most loyal of all dogs, will happily kill and eat their rescuers.
Oh wait, maybe the ladder ate her.
In the comments on the tree pic, it says that the dog was up there "bird watching", but that she had climbed it one other time- to go after cat! Talk about a high prey drive! I wonder how many small animals that pit actually killed?
~~And this is the kind of dog she wanted to put into her community. Pits crazed enough to climb trees to attack! FFS, only nutters would think this is cute??~~
For this reason, I am not one bit sad about her demise. She was a serious hazard to her entire neighborhood and anyone dealing with her. SO GLAD an innocent didn't die over her nutter ways.
I do think she had the best of intentions, but that means nothing when you are putting lives at risk.
17 dogs in a home? Many of them pits? Can you imagine that? They claim her neighbors liked her but I will never believe that. It had to be loud and stinky. And dangerous. What a freaking nightmare to live by.
And everyone is all worried about saving the remaining dogs, FFS. Any pits she has should be PTS ASAP. That they weren't involved is only because they were caged.
Add more to the list of shelter dogs that have killed, its growing by leaps and bounds!
Uh oh Dogs bite- they are already getting mad about your post!
NOTHING IN THIS POST SAYS ANYTHING BAD ABOUT HER!!! I came to re-read it, because I could not figure out why this person wants it removed, and finds it so "disturbing". There is nothing here but factual info, and her very own pics. How this is "disturbing" is beyond me.
Her death is disturbing.
The fact that she had so many pits is disturbing.
That she left loved ones is disturbing.
But this story? Not so much.
Off FB "I just saw a very disturbing article on the internet about our beautiful friend Rita…………..I don't know what to do or how to get it off and was hoping one of her friends will know what to do. The address is from a blog on dog bite . org/2014/12-texas-dog-rescuer (/this is only part of URL)… Im so upset Im not sure if any of what I just wrote makes any sense"
The truth is disturbing to people who live in a delusional world where pit bulls can be magically turned into lap dogs, every one of them.
Comments pulled from the Facebook post at For the Love of Strays — who instantly asked for donations to take over the care of four of Woodard's dogs after her death. The comment by Lorrie Harris nails the misguided mindset that breaks health codes and public safety laws and qualifies as animal hoarding by most humane societies.
As far as not knowing what happened, the ME explained exactly what did happen. She was attacked and bitten by her own dogs and fostered dogs THEN suffered heart failure. A neighbor who called the police said the scene was horrific: "There was blood everywhere and the (back) door was wide open." – Danny DeRamus
The first video from KIITV said that she was discovered at about 6:30 pm Monday and several of the dogs were "feeding on her remains." The notion that any of these dogs helped the woman is totally false. The attackers also attacked another dog that was loose in the house; it was so severely injured it had to be put down.
Anne Williamson Such a tragedy, but I would like to know why do u suppose she was attacked? And why was she permitted to have 17 dogs?
Lorrie Harris In our world, 10,15,17 dogs is NORM! As long as their needs are met, they're in a clean environment, they're taken care of, don't question the number of dogs!!!!!
Ashley J Ramsey RIP ); I am so saddened by this news. So frustrated at not knowing what really happened.. The ME has made their statement, but I know though that those dogs loved her. No one will ever really know what happened… My heart goes out to her family and our community. And the sweet fur souls that are suffering because of this.. ):
Nicole Neuroth I was shocked to see my friend Rita on the news this Wednesday 12-17-2012. I immediately called her phone and her son answered. I knew for sure at that moment that it was true about her death. I'm so sorry for her untimely death. To rush in to protect her babies only to have them turn on her in their fighting frenzy and cause her death. She loved all of her rescued dogs. RIP Rita you will be remembered for being a very kind and dependable hard working woman.
Jane Ritter RIP Rita! I chose not to believe the media on this. I chose to believe the dogs were probably trying to help her after she had a heart attack. Wish I could take a dog, but will be leaving town and could not do that to animals that need attention right now.
The psychosis continues on the KZTV Facebook thread:
Christina Cowan Westerkom WTH IS WRONG WITH YOU KZTV? THE WAY YOU PUT YOUR TITLE OF YOUR STORY? CHANGE IT AROUND TO MAKE THE ANIMALS LOOK BAD? MAYBE THOSE DOGS WERE TRYING TO WARN HER WHAT WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN? MAYBE THEY WERE TRYING TO GET HER ATTENTION AFTER SHE HAD THE HEART ATTACK? THE NEWS MAKES ME SICK…
And here we go.
Steven Trevino If there was a female brown/brindle pit mix, with two white front socks, it wouldn't surprise me. I adopted that dog earlier this year and had to give it back because it was extremely aggressive and attacked my other dog and wouldn't easily come off her. I risked being bitten pulling it off. Rita took her back and they kept trying to find her a home, even labeling her as "good with other dogs"…
This response to a factual article doesn't make much sense to me, either. It's much like the response by the nutters to the art display that was a tribute to dog bite victims. I still don't know what they were protesting. There was nothing in the display that was debatable. All of the people represented had died from dog attacks, many by pit bulls. The only reasonable protest to this would be to protest that these horrible attacks had actually occurred. To protest such a display because it tells the truth and honors victims is stupid/inhuman/cruel/illogical.
This poor woman's death needs to be reported and commented upon. She sounds like she was a nice person. I want to believe she was just misguided and didn't realize the lives she was endangering. The blame lies not only with her and the dogs that turned on her, but with every person who helped convince her that these dogs would make good, safe pets. Perhaps this death strikes a little too close to home for them and is in danger of toppling the tower of lies they must believe to remain nutters.
Another volunteer. I'm happy it wasn't a child or innocent neighbor. If this woman could speak, she'd probably be ok with the fact that her own dogs killed her, she died doing what she loved…
Rita was not doing good. The people and pretense who were enabling her were not doing good.
Instead, they were doing nothing but hoarding and dealing in dangerous dogs, and putting people and animals at risk so they could tell themselves how wonderful they were and engage in egomania.
They were makimg things worse for all involved and even those pit bulls too, but their brains are too clouded to see it.
They got other pets badly injured injured, perhaps killed many, and she and her friends didn't even care.
They just wanted to keep trafficking.
Other friendly dogs went without homes while they worshipped dangerous dogs and caged them for long periods.
The house was overcrowded.
They knew they were rehoming aggressive and dangerous dogs that would kill, and they just didn't care.
This was a situation that Corpus Christi should have dealt with. This was a situation her neighbors should have been taking to the courts, because they were in danger every day.
This buyers who were sold these dangerous dogs and had them attacking in their homes should have been filing lawsuits and complaints, because it was only by chance that one of them didn't attack and kill a small child
None of the people involved in this pretense rescue cared. They would have then blamed the victim.
There needs to be licensing and inspections for these operations, because they are dangerous to all. They need to be evaluated.
The number of dogs in this home was out of control. No one should ever have been releasing dangerous dogs to her or anyone else for that matter. Her inability to handle pit bulls was blatantly obvious. By encouraging that dog to climb trees, for example, she was treaching it to scale fences that would have kept an average companion dog out.
But the dogs themselves were in a bad situation too and being kept caged and overcrowded and one woman is completely unable to properly deal with this many dogs, never mind pit bulls which even adult dog fighters have trouble handling and keeping under control with more people involved.
The pretense rescue that kept giving dogs to her when this situation was already bad contributed to her death. They share responsibility. Whatever animal control department that was giving dogs to her or this rescue is at fault.
More than likely, to try to maintain the pretense of No Kill, they were dumping dogs into these bad situations just to clear them off the record and pretend they got adopted, and maintain their own pretense and artificial records.
This is not rescue.
It is trafficking fighting dogs.
Those comments. Scarily naive and delusional. They would be funny if the whole scenario wasn't so dangerous and sad, involving the death of someone who believed the lies and insisted on spreading them like a deadly virus. I will have to say that while I was reading the comments provided from FB, I was picturing a bunch of dogs trying to perform heart surgery.
Some super nutter actually said that at least one of the pitties was a CRP Therapy Dog (Not CPR,but CRP) and they were trying to HELP her. Their delusions know no bounds. There was blood because they were scratching trying to get her up. I agree with the previous poster-glad they killed her and not the neighbors. This is way too many dangerous dogs in one very unsecured environment.
When ego is louder than instinct. . .
All these pit bull people continue to play blame the victim. A cruel thing to do, but it's easier than reevaluating their stance. They will NOT be wrong about these dogs. They will NOT admit defeat. After all, they have that special, magic ability to truly understand what these dogs need. Obviously the victim wasn't special enough. It has to be something she did wrong. Like maybe wore the wrong shade of lipstick or hummed a tune that was unpleasant to their delicate sensibilities.
I'm reading her Facebook page and OMG they seriously think she died from a heart attack. I cannot believe these people can vote or drive or reproduce or own dogs.
The group this woman worked with and took dogs from knew their pit bulls were aggressive and are still selling these aggressive dogs.
After this happened, in very self-aggrandizing move to profit from their failures and cover it up, a leader of this group had the audacity to latch on to a very gullible reporter and try to distract from the fighting breed issue and throw all large breed dogs under the bus and claim it was a "large breed problem." She then tried to sell this organization to the public, and tell them to come to them for training in how to handle "large breed dogs."
After their dogs had just killed one of their own. They have no ability to handle these dogs, but the sales spiel is disgusting
Proposterous, and a terrible cover up of fighting breeds and their inability to handle these fighting breeds. Other rescues in the area posted messages online showing that For the Love of Strays knew there was dog fighting going on at this woman's house and that these dogs were dangerous, and they were hiding it and trying to sell those dogs.
For the Love of Strays demanded that some of Rita's dogs be turned over to them and look what is happening.
Only a lawsuit will stop this insanity and prevent more people from being killed.
Look at the dangers they are still trying to dump on the public, and the completely delusional sales chatter like the therapy sell.
They also cage these dogs for years, one since 2013.
This isn't humane and it is dangerous, and there now is a fatality to prove it.
This cruelty investigation needs to extended to this entire group before the next fatality.
Why is it that lawsuits bring more fear than the very real likelihood of their "pet" savagely killing?
They don't want their "family members" confiscated.
Lawsuits are very expensive to defend against. That's why more of them need to be filed.
I lived in CC and was volunteering in rescue at the time. CC has disproportionate amounts of stupidity and nastiness in the "rescue community ". Irresponsible hoarders that use tragic circumstances to line their pockets and do very little good overall. The official rescues are at war with each other and they rip any critics to shreds online. With some distance and perspective, I can say I've never been around more toxicity, ever. With a few exceptions, the rescue community in that city is irrational and dysfunctional. The area shelters PTS thousands of dogs every year and this is why! Energy is spent on individual cases and individual egos and the greater good is completely ignored. Corpus is beyond hope in so many ways, and the way a community treats the animals among them is a great indicator of their humanity. They treat people the same way.
One other thing: pit bull culture and dog fighting is HUGE South Texas. I do not hate pits and am familiar with several wonderful pits. That said, I have several rescue dogs and won't own a pit myself. I like easy dogs. The pits and mixes that are in rescue in Corpus are the cast offs of the culture and the fighting rings. THAT is where efforts need to be concentrated. Break up the pit clubs and fighting rings. They are associated with gang activity and need to be decimated. Put the bully breeders out of business. Start prosecuting people who get pit puppies to chain in their yards. Prosecute those who dump and abandon them as soon as they become hard to control (because not one minute was spent training them). Law enforcement in Corpus is completely apathetic to animal issues in general. They claim to be overwhelmed. That is why the "rescues" have so much clout. Law enforcement has none. If they would just even concentrate on the dog and cock fighters, they would uncover the worst elements of the community really quickly.