Most Powerful Images Came from Social Media
Photographs of six fatally attacking dogs in 2015 obtained from multiple sources.
DogsBite.org - In 2013, we began the tradition of publishing breed identification photographs of fatally attacking dogs when available through news reports, law enforcement or social media websites. Of the 35 total recorded deaths last year, 16 fatalities, 46%, had breed identification photographs, down from 57% last year.1 Predictably, the majority of the images depict pit bulls, pit bull-mixes and their close relatives, along with the second top killing dog breed, rottweilers.
Of all dog bite fatalities with identification photographs, 44% (7) were captured by news media, 38% (6) were supplied by animal control or sheriff's departments and 44% (7) were located on social media pages of the dog's owner or family members. Four attacks also had images in two categories. The most powerful images came from social media and included a mother calling her pit bull a "Big Baby," a victim and her pit bull and a pit bull dubbed "The beast" doing bite work.
Photographs Are Supplemental
The identification photographs are a supplement to the extreme number of multi-sourced news reports that we collect for each fatal dog attack victim and are listed on our Dog Bite Fatality Citations pages. Though we are still collecting news reports for 2015 -- there will be criminal trials, autopsy report information and more -- so far we have collected over 615 citations for 35 victims. We invite you to glance over the 2015 Dog Bite Fatality Citations page to review its length.
News reports pertaining to fatal dog attacks -- with or without identification photographs -- are nearly always multi-sourced. This means that multiple parties have identified the dog's breed including, but not limited to: animal control officers, police officers or sheriff's deputies, other public safety officials, the dog's owner or family members, witnesses and even veterinarians. The images are often greatly helpful, but are also just one component of the overall information available.
Growing Impact of Social Media
Though images obtained from social media in 2015 did not increase from last year, several of them carried significant impact on social media. The image of 25-year old Nicole Cartee sitting with her family pit bull of 10-years, which later killed her, captured the public's attention. This past week, after 9-year old Tyler Trammell-Huston was killed by his older sister's three pet pit bulls, the Facebook images of his sister snuggling with her pit bulls went viral on Facebook as well.
The viral images usually share the element of a family pit bull that unpredictably turns violent, attacking and killing a family member.2
In 2015, three cases would have had the wrong breed identification or no breed attribution had it not been for social media and our investigative research: the deaths of Malaki Mildward, Lamarkus Hicks and Barbara McCormick. In two of these cases, both children, we were also able to track the lineage of the fatally attacking dogs to their sire and dam. We first accomplished this in 2014, after the death of Mia DeRouen, using the dog owner's Instagram account and a pedigree website.
More photos of varying sizes are often available at the indicated full blog post link for each victim.
2015 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs
Post Publication Identification Photographs
Breed identification photographs discovered after the publication of this post on January 14, 2016. These photographs are not included in our overall analysis; they were unavailable at that time.
2After a pet pit bull of 8-years killed its owner on Christmas Day in 2014 in Portage, Indiana, the image of 40-year old Edward Cahill posing with his pit bull also went viral on social media. Cahill's mauling death by his family pit bull was "so clear cut," the coroner declined to do an autopsy. "There’s no reason for me to spend $2,500 of the taxpayers’ money on something so obvious," Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris told reporters.
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence'...
01/07/15: 2014 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/03/14: 2013 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org