Dog Shipped Out-of-State
UPDATE 03/19/15: Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron has agreed to allow the pit bull that killed a man to be shipped to an out-of-state pet sitting and rescue organization that was recently given verbal and written warnings for kennel maintenance violations. South Hills Pet Rescue and Rehabilitation Resort, located in Union Township, Pennsylvania,1 serves "all breeds, with all needs," according to its website and adopts out animal-aggressive pit bulls like Gopher.
Gopher's Info: "Not good with dogs, and not good with cats."
If a picture is worth a thousand words then check out the South Hills "rehabilitation resort" facility. This is apparently where Sheba, the fatally attacking pit bull, will be housed, allegedly rehabilitated then likely put up for adoption. TribLive.com reports that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement inspected the property on Tuesday, according to a report online, and issued verbal and written warnings for multiple kennel maintenance violations.2
The warden “observed some of the wire that connects fencing to fence post in individual kennel area to be sharp and sticking out, kennel fencing pulled and damaged, materials used to repair damaged fencing had sharp edges, broken kennel latches, dividers between kennels becoming separated, damaged guillotine doors and cables, plaster board walls needing repaired,” according to the report. - TribLive.com, March 19, 2015
Co-owner of South Hills Pet Rescue and Rehabilitation Resort, Ashley Rittle, who owns the business with her husband, said that about 50 dogs are currently being kept at the "picture is worth a thousand words" property. Rittle blamed the dogs for the damage to the kennels, saying that dogs suffering from separation anxiety cause the damage. Rittle also asked for donations, expressing, "we're not millionaires" and "we're really asking for help from the communities."
Last but not least, in 2012, a judge in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which is adjacent to Washington County, spared the life of a dog that killed an infant. Part of the terms included that the dog be shipped to an out-of-state rescue. The shipping of dangerous dogs to out-of-state jurisdictions to avoid liability has its ironies doesn't it? Herron made an unwise decision regarding Sheba. But hey, the pit bull that suddenly inflicted a fatal bite is not his problem any longer.
Prosecutors and attorneys representing the interests of Helo the husky agreed today that the dog could be sent to an out-of-state animal sanctuary from which it cannot be adopted ... Helo will be transferred from a shelter in Monroeville to the facility next week. Attorneys declined to give its name or location, citing concerns for the safety of the dog and its handlers. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27, 2012
03/13/15: Death by Dog Bite Injury
On Friday, Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said that a preliminary autopsy report shows that a man who was attacked by a pit bull on Sunday in East Wheeling died as a direct result of the injuries he sustained during the attack. The dog attacked Roy Higgenbotham, 62, as he tried to assist his roommate David Wallace, 63, who had suffered a fatal heart attack. The dog bite injuries severed Higgenbotham's radial artery near his left wrist directly causing his death.
Despite earlier reports indicating that autopsies would be performed on both men, an autopsy was not performed on Wallace. Also, despite Ohio County Dog Warden Doug McCroskey allegedly indicating to "would be rescuers" of the fatally attacking pit bull that he had authority over the fate of the animal -- purportedly even appearing on a radio show, saying so publicly -- this role falls to City Manager Robert Herron due to the nature of the attack and the city's vicious dog ordinance.
City Manager Robert Herron will have final say on whether the dog will be given to a family member or destroyed.
Herron said because the dog is not registered on the city's vicious dog registry and because of the attack on Higgenbotham, he has jurisdiction over the fate of the dog. The Wheeling Intelligencer, March 13, 2015
On March 10, Tamara Lightner, whose relationship to the victims is unknown, made the following claim in a Facebook post. The typos are her own, as are her many claims. We highlighted the suspect and "wishful thinking" portions. Police continue to investigate if this same pit bull was involved in a previous attack several weeks earlier in the same neighborhood. Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball said that a female victim was bitten on the leg and required medical treatment.
For those following Sheba. Humane Officer Doug McCroskey was on Steve Novotney's show tonight. The conversation really shined some hope down on Sheba and her fate. Doug talked about his first encounter with her. When he arrived she was behind an entertaintment stand in a bedroom. She never put up a fight with him and he walked her out to his truck. He says she is eating and does growl occassionally likely due to fear. She does not act aggressive. He stated if a family member wants her he would most definitely consider releasing her to them. Rescues have also contacted him something he too is not oppossed of. With that a paper releasing them from liability would need signed of course. There is no time frame on her fate and he isnt looking to rush family as they have been through a lot. Sheba has not had any encounters in the past as far as aggression goes. Before this she was a very happy loved dog whose world was shattered in a matter of minutes. As far as the victim it was noted he did not appear to have been mauled..he had 2 bite wounds(unsure location). This just leaves me to wonder if she was the cause of death ultimately... Tamara Lightner, March 10, 2015
03/10/15: “Revival” Slaps to the Face
The Washington Post reports new information, including that it was a few “revival” slaps to the face by Roy Higgenbotham that launched the dog into attack mode. Apparently, Higgenbotham did not even have a chance to administer CPR to his roommate David Wallace before Wallace’s pit bull attacked him. After kicking in the door to the home, police arrived to Higgenbotham screaming for help as the dog attacked him and a woman hiding from the dog on the roof of the home.
After kicking in the door, officers went to an upstairs bedroom where they observed the victim on the floor of the bedroom being attacked by a white and brown pit bull with blood all over its face,” Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball told The Post. “The dog came towards officers in an aggressive manner and then hid in a corner of the room. - The Washington Post, March 10, 2015
Kimball also said they believe the same pit bull may have attacked a pedestrian several weeks ago on the street, though he added no further details. Wheeling has an ordinance that classifies pit bulls and several other close breeds as “vicious.” The owners are required to carry a $100,000 liability insurance policy and keep the dog properly confined. This fatal attack, however, occurred inside of a home and the pit bull attacked a man well known to it who also lived in the home.3
Meanwhile, a local no-kill shelter is trying to save the attacking female pit bull. Webark Estates writes in a recent post, “We have contacted Best Friends Animal Society in Utah to ask them to step in and save this poor dog at the pound in Wheeling, WV.” Most of the commenters clamour the dog was, “just trying to protect his owner” and it was “only doing her job.” Beth Patsch chimes in, “She has always been a sweet, shy girl that loved those men to pieces and they adored her.”
Which certainly explains the dog's “fatally attacking” behavior on Sunday.
It is unknown what will happen to the pit bull named Sheba, especially now in light of a possible previous attack by the animal. At this stage, with both autopsy results still pending, the cause of death remains unclear as well. Kimball states in The Post article that the only other person in the house at the time of the attack, the woman who later fled onto the roof to escape the dog, was in the room when Higginbotham was attacked. Both other witnesses to the dog attack are dead.
03/10/15: Sorting Out the Fatal Attack
Yesterday, we began following the local paper, The Wheeling Intelligencer, which partly operates behind a paywall. Yesterday’s article was open to all readers, but with that came confusion regarding the “first” and “second” man, which victim was either? Reading it one way leads one to believe that the pit bull attacked both men. Reading it another way, the dog only attacked one man, but both men suffered heart attacks. It seems the latter scenario might be what occurred.
DogsBite.org and other victims’ advocates wrote to the Intelligencer last night asking them to clarify the “first” and “second” man for these reasons. This clarification is now found in the first sentence, as well throughout today’s article. As of March 10, the “second” man is the aid-giver who was attacked by the pit bull and the “second” man may have also suffered a heart attack. So it appears both men suffered heart attacks, but only the “second” man was attacked by the dog.
Police Sorting Out Fatal Dog Attack in East Wheeling
WHEELING - Police have released the names of two men who died Sunday in Wheeling - one from an apparent heart attack, the second from being attacked by a dog as he tried to save the first man.
McKenzie said he could not confirm whether the second man was killed by the dog or suffered a heart attack after the dog attacked him. He said an autopsy will be done on both bodies to determine the causes of death.
A woman who identified herself as a relative of one of the victims said the second man died of a heart attack after the dog attacked him.- The Wheeling Intelligencer, March 10, 2015
Police ordered autopsies on the “first” and “second” man to determine cause of death.
03/09/15: Victims' Names Released
Wheeling police have released the identities of both male victims. David Wallace, 63, and Roy Higgenbotham Jr., 62, both of Wheeling, died Sunday night at a home on 14th Street. Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger confirmed that one of the victims was attacked by the pit bull, but the cause of death of both victims is still being investigated. According to at least one neighbor, a woman in the home escaped through a second floor window to avoid being attacked as well.
Regrettably, WTRF News, along with a stunned brother and next-door neighbor are characterizing this dog’s violent attack as a “misunderstanding” despite one man apparently being mauled to death by the dog and another person fleeing out of a window in fear of her life. There was no “misunderstanding,” this is just another horrific pit bull attack resulting in human death. Pit bulls regularly rise to the level of explosive, deadly aggression under far less stressful circumstances.
Patsch, who lives directly next door and witnessed the woman fleeing from the second floor window Sunday night, said the female pit bull “was always wonderful.” The two men were roommates and had owned the attacking pit bull since she was “tiny, tiny and never a problem.” They had owned the dog’s mother as well, which died last fall, Patsch said. The incident resulting in two deaths continues to be investigated by the Wheeling Police Department Detective Division.
New Information Released
The Wheeling Intelligencer, the local newspaper, sheds more light on this attack, but also adds confusion. Predictably, the pit bull was not registered as required by the city’s vicious dog ordinance. But the real whopper -- presuming the “first” man was rendering aid -- is that the pit bull possibly attacked both men. Sgt. Gregg McKenzie said he could not confirm at this time "whether the second man was killed by the dog or suffered a heart attack after the dog attacked him."4
At about 5:00 pm Central time, the Intelligencer updated their article and included information about the dog’s owner and which of the men had been rendering aid. “The dog's owner was identified as David Wallace, 63, of 131 14th Street, East Wheeling. The man who was performing CPR when he was attacked by the pit bull was identified as Roy A. Higgenbotham Jr., 62, of Wheeling,” states the paper. Confusion still remains, however, about which is the “second” man.
03/09/15: Pit Bull Kills Man
Wheeling, WV - A pit bull attacked and killed a man who was trying to save the dog owner’s life, according to Wheeling police. Lt. Phil Redford said that police believe the dog’s owner suffered a heart attack. When another man in the home tried to resuscitate him, the pit bull attacked and killed him. Police had to force their way into the home late Sunday, where they found both victims. It is unknown if the dog also attacked its owner. Wheeling declares pit bulls prima facie vicious.
Paramedics and Firefighters
Protocols vary across jurisdictions, but there are examples on this website where paramedics and firefighters are forced to stay in their vehicles as a human life slips away because one or more attacking pit bulls is still unrestrained near the victim and police have not yet arrived to remove the animal. These protocols exist for a good reason. No further information has been released about the East Wheeling fatal dog attack. Ohio County Animal Control placed the pit bull into quarantine.
2We looked for this report on their website and could not locate it.
3The dog was contained, but it was not registered with the city nor would it seem likely that it was insured.
4It is also possible, given the uncertainty of who the “first” and “second” man refers to, is that both men suffered heart attacks. If the “second” man is Higginbotham -- who rendered aid -- and also suffered a heart attack, these two statements make more sense, (1)“McKenzie said he could not confirm whether the second man was killed by the dog or suffered a heart attack after the dog attacked him” and (2)“A woman who identified herself as a relative of one of the victims, said the second man died of a heart attack after the dog attacked him.” Otherwise, only one man suffered a heart attack and the dog attacked them both. Police ordered autopsies on both victims.
01/08/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Maryland Man Mauled to Death by Family Pit Bull
12/30/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Portage Man Mauled to Death by Pet Pit Bull on Christmas Day
12/10/14: Detroit Man Suffers Catastrophic Injuries in Violent Pack Attack by Pit Bulls
08/01/12: Triggers: What Prompts a Pit Bull to Attack?
11/08/10: Officials Must Stop Ordering Dogs Deemed 'Dangerous' to New Jurisdictions