'Rehabbed' Pit Bull Attacked Just After Shock Collar Removed
Margaret Colvin died after being brutally attacked by a pit bull adopted hours earlier.
UPDATE 11/17/17: Five months after a woman was brutally killed by a pit bull her daughter had acquired from a rescue group hours earlier that day, authorities filed charges. Jamie Cochran, the 33-year old owner of Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, has been charged with 10 misdemeanors for importing animals without a veterinary inspection certificate, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. More charges may follow once the investigation is complete.
Prior to killing Margaret Colvin, 90, the pit bull, named Blue, had been returned to Forever Home due to his "reactive" behavior -- aggression and lack of impulse control -- which the rescue was aware of. Tia Walke, the previous adopter, said Blue attacked her adult nephew. She said back then, "I can't control him" and called the experience "very frightening." Before arriving at Forever Home, Blue had been on death row at the New York City municipal shelter for "biting people."
"She saw her mother disemboweled, virtually, and her mother's arm had to be amputated and her mother died." - Irv Blank, Linda Patterson's attorney
Forever Home did not disclose to Colvin's daughter, Linda Patterson, Blue's history of bites and aggression. Just seven hours after the dog arrived at Patterson's home wearing a shock collar, the animal viciously attacked and killed her mother. Three months later, Patterson filed a $5 million dollar lawsuit against Forever Home. Now finally in November, possibly all prosecutors can do is charge Cochran with importing dogs into Virginia without a veterinary inspection certificate.
History of Misdemeanors
Cochran is familiar with misdemeanors. Court records show that in April 2015 -- one month after the Commonwealth found "significant findings of noncompliance" at Forever Home -- Cochran was charged with 17 misdemeanors for inadequate animal care. Her partner Toni Enright was charged with 18 violations of the same nature. All charges were later dismissed. In 2013, Cochran and Enright pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor embezzlement charge, related to a former employer.
Failing to obtain a veterinary inspection certificate after importing a dog from another state is a Class 1 misdemeanor, the highest class in Virginia (§ 3.2-5902. Certificate of veterinary inspection required for importation of certain pet animals; examination; exceptions; penalty). Authorized punishments for conviction of this provision include, "confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both," states the Virginia decode website.
The police investigation into Cochran is "into its very last stages," the city prosecutor said Friday, indicating that more charges may be coming.
Finally, the most uplifting news is that Virginia lawmakers are working on legislation to regulate animal training centers due to the foreseeability of Blue's vicious attack. Just recently, State Senator Bill DeSteph said he was in the process of drafting regulations to ensure this cannot happen again. Hopefully, the legislation will center upon "rehabbers," rescues and training centers that claim to rehabilitate aggressive dogs. Senator DeSteph will introduce the bill next year.
08/24/17: Rescue Center Sued for $5 Million
Nearly three months after a rehomed pit bull brutally attacked and killed a 90-year woman, the victim's daughter has filed a lawsuit against the rescue center. Linda Patterson filed a civil lawsuit for $5 million dollars against Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Virginia Beach. The recently adopted pit bull, named Blue, attacked her elderly mother after Linda removed the dog's shock collar, about seven hours after the dog was delivered to the Patterson home.
Predictably, the lawsuit states the dog had a history of biting before the attack and that the rescue should have known the dog's history. A "trial by jury is demanded," according to the court filing. Prior to mauling and killing Margaret Colvin, the pit bull had been returned to Forever Home due to his "reactive" behavior -- aggression and lack of impulse control. Previous to arriving at Forever Home, Blue had been on death row at New York City Animal Care and Control for "biting people."
The most glaring "foreseeability" of this attack is that Blue was adopted to the Patterson family and required a shock collar as a condition.
The fatally attacking pit bull, with a slew of known aggression issues, was advertised by Forever Home as "playful, affectionate" and "gentle, goofy." Linda had even told Forever Home before agreeing to the adoption that the sole "deal breaker" would be "aggression." Linda did not even understand what the shock collar was for, until it was too late. She had initially thought the collar sent out signals like "sound waves," not blasts of electricity to shock and correct the animal.
In the hours following Colvin's mauling death, Forever Home issued a liability "denial" statement claiming, "none of us could have ever predicted this horrible event." Though drenched in the foreseeability of this violent attack, Forever Home kept issuing denials in its aftermath. Back in July, the rescue tried to end their lease at their Virginia Beach property. It is unknown what has become of the Forever Home operators, Toni Enright and Jamie Cochran, since that time.
06/07/17: Previous Adopter Speaks Out
On May 31, Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (FHRC) adopted out a 1.5 year old male, neutered pit bull named Blue. The dog arrived at the adopter's home wearing a shock collar. Seven hours later, its new owner, Linda Patterson, removed the shock collar. After doing so, the dog quickly attacked and killed Linda's 90-year old mother. WAVY-TV spoke to a woman who adopted Blue on April 22, but returned the pit bull to FHRC two days later due to its aggression.
Linda had told FHRC the one "deal breaker," in the terms of adopting this pit bull, would be "aggression." - Kerry Dougherty, The Virginian-Pilot
Tia Walke said Blue attacked her 26-year old nephew as soon as she let the dog out of its crate. The dog jumped on him, she said. "I had the leash and I was yanking and pulling as hard as I could to get the dog off,” Walke said. In a text message to FHRC she wrote: "I can't control him. And he's scaring me now." Walke described it to WTKR as a "very frightening experience." She quickly returned the dog to FHRC. A month later, the rescue adopted "reactive" Blue to Linda.
In our last update, we explained how "reactivity" and "lack of impulse control" can quickly escalate to dangerous "impulsive aggression," which is how Walke and Linda described both attacks.
FHRC responded to Walke and her nephew's experience by marginalizing the incident down to an "insect bite" and denying any culpability. After the horrific mauling death of Linda's mother, FHRC denied any foreseeability or culpability as well, despite the dog's documented history of aggressive behavior, including being surrendered to NYCACC after biting a child and thereafter multiple rescue groups using "code words" to describe Blue's dangerous "impulsive aggression" behavior.
On top of this, Blue was sent to Linda's home wearing a shock collar. According to a Virginian-Pilot article, FHRC described the collar to Linda as sending a "signal" to the dog by remote control. Linda thought it sent out sound waves, reports The Pilot. It was not until she took the collar off to recharge it that she realized the "signals" were jolts of electricity to shock (and correct) the dog. FHRC is quite literally drowning in foreseeability and culpability, yet they continue to deny both.
By the time rescue workers arrived, the woman's intestines were on the floor ... Her mother's arms were mangled. - Kerry Dougherty, The Virginian-Pilot
The Experts Respond
Multiple experts responded to this fatal dog attack, including pit bull expert Diane Jessup, who wrote on Facebook: "She [Linda] bought a breed she didn't need from a charlatan "trainer" [FHRC] who tried to suppress a dog's true character with shock, who got it from a facility [New York City Animal Care and Control] that didn't have the wherewithal to euthanize a dog that bites family members." Jessup added, "A 'rescue' that sends a dog home with a shock collar on ... Nuff said."
Pennsylvania-based behaviorist Ilana Reisner responded as well. We issue a fair warning to readers who may choke on her outrageous use of jargon terms: "impulsive, disinhibited, affective defensive aggression" and "toggle-switch like" aggression and "impulsive, rage-like aggression." However, Reisner also admits what behaviorist Alexandra Semyonova has long stated about temperament testing. Such tests "cannot prevent or predict explosive, disinhibited aggression."
On this same thread, trainer Victoria Harter states this is the fourth attack she knows about after FHRC adopted out a dog. "This is the 4th dog that FHRC has adopted out that has bitten someone, there could be more. I've also worked with several dogs they have adopted out that are supposedly trained and rehabilitated," Harter writes, "They do not disclose to adopters the history of dogs which is dangerous to the family. I am not at all surprised that this has happened."
06/03/17: A 'Foreseeable' Attack
After reviewing a wealth of information, it is clear that a violent, unpredictable attack by this dog was "foreseeable." We hope the Patterson family sues Virginia Beach-based Forever-Homes Sanctuary, Inc., also known as Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (FHRC), after the dog killed a woman just hours after the rescue rehomed it. FHRC is a reckless dangerous dog rescue that has been "saving" death row dogs for years and is no stranger to legal troubles.
In a 2012 article, The Virginian-Pilot describes the two founders, Toni Enright and Jamie Cochran and the birth of their operation that saves "misunderstood" dogs. Enright said the two met while working at Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach: "It was chaos," Enright said about their beginnings. "Our dogs didn't get along. They were tearing stuff up," she said. "Another one kept biting me. And my pit -- he was the kind that was going to wind up in the newspaper one day."
The two self-describe as "disciples of Cesar Millan" and that his "pack-based philosophies struck a chord." - The Virginian-Pilot, July 1, 2012
Back then, the duo operated out of Knotts Island, North Carolina and lived in a double-wide overflowing with dog beds, crates, supplies and a mob of dogs. Enright described the trailer as a "ghetto." The gist of the 2012 story is that after The Lexus Project, a New York-based legal group, persuaded a judge to release a 5-time biter, named Alchemy, the dog was sent to the pair. But before reaching their rescue "ghetto," the dog attacked one of The Lexus Project attorneys.
Also at that time, Enright and Cochran where charged with felony embezzlement after their former employer, Owl Creek, claimed the pair outfitted their rescue with dog supplies taken from the clinic, reports The Pilot. We do not know the results of those felony charges. One does not need to in order to understand the "mentally ill mindset" of two young women bent on "saving" dangerous dogs from humane euthanasia through their "self-proclaimed" talents of magical rehabilitation.1
In March 2015, after the rescue moved to Virginia Beach, the Commonwealth of Virginia notified Cochran of "significant findings of noncompliance," including failing to obtain emergency medical treatment for a dog and transferring an unsterilized dog to a "private business" that breeds dogs.
History of Killer Rescue Dog
On Wednesday, the Patterson family adopted a male pit bull from FHRC, named Blue, for $20 after responding to a Craigslist advertisement. Previously, Blue had been a death row dog. Last December, Pennsylvania-based Animals Can't Talk Rescue (ACT) "pulled" Blue from New York City Animal Care and Control. The dog was on death row for biting people. A fundraiser states Blue, who needed "socialization and impulse control," would be sent to FHRC if funds were raised.
My name is BLUE. My Animal ID # is A1098430. I am a male white and brown pit bull mix. The shelter thinks I am about 1 YEAR. I came in the shelter as a STRAY on 12/02/2016 from NY 10029, owner surrender reason stated was BITEPEOPLE.
In addition to Blue needing "socialization and impulse control" training, the fundraiser by ACT states Blue "has been through a lot. His behavior -- too -- was cause for concern. He seems to react badly to loud noises and sudden movements." The fundraiser attempted to raise $10,000 in order for Blue and Lexie, another dog pulled from death row in New York City, to be trained and housed by FHRC. In this online effort, they fell dismally short, raising only $10 after 71 shares.2
On February 4, ACT delivered Blue to FHRC after a "whole bunch of donations." In an April 21 update, they state, "He will be ready for adoption in about a month." Apparently, the FHRC gals (Cesar Millan disciples) needed four months to "rehabilitate" Blue, including the heavy use of shock collar training. Just days later, we see Enright, Cochran and two other FHRC devotees walking a pack of 16 large dogs down a residential street, as if posing for a Reality TV show.
The Fatal Pit Bull Attack
On May 31, just hours after Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center delivered Blue, shock collar and all, to the Patterson home, Blue explodes with impulsive aggression. The victim's daughter, Linda, told The Pilot she was in the backyard with the dog, when she removed the shock and canvas collars. At that time, she also realized she had been locked out of the house. She knocked and called out to her mother, but she had fallen in her room and could not get up.
Linda took a hammer and smashed a window pane to get back inside her home. She was on her way to her mother's room when Blue rushed by her and pounced on her mother, which Linda described as initially being playful. Seconds later, Blue began mauling her mother's arms, abdomen and thighs. Linda swung the hammer at the dog -- other news outlets report she banged the dog with a skillet -- to no avail. Then the dog turned on Linda, biting her in the upper arm.
"I’ve had animals all my life and I have never seen an animal act like that. It was horrible," Linda said. "I’ll never forget that sight." - The victim's daughter
13News Now reports the elderly woman underwent multiple surgeries Wednesday night, including an arm being amputated. She died of her injuries Thursday morning. Attempts to explain the pit bull's explosive unpredictable aggression range from the elderly victim shouting at the dog, "Get the heck off me," which might have riled the dog up, according to Linda, to the dog only ceasing its brutal attack after the victim, who was being horrifically mauled, "stopped screaming and crying."
As animal behaviorist Alexandra Semyonova has explained in the past, selecting for impulsive aggression, as dogfighters did, created an utterly disproportionate response: "It’s also not realistic to pretend that impulsive aggression is not pathological. The environments (the fighting pit, the baited bull, the escaping slave) for which these behaviors were selected as an adaptive response are so extreme that in fact there is no appropriate context for these behaviors in normal life."
Rescue Denies Foreseeability
This brutal mauling death shows just how disproportionate this pit bull's response was, which allegedly began as "play" and turned into a catastrophic mauling claiming two victims. Blue was advertised to the Patterson family as "playful, affectionate" and "gentle, goofy." Yet all three animal groups, FHRC, ACT and NYCACC, knew the dog had been on death row for biting people and had "impulse control" and "bad reactions" (or reactivity) -- often code for "impulsive aggression."
Dogfighters specifically selected for reactivity that quickly escalates to "impulsive aggression," which is exactly how Linda described the attack.
Yet, the most glaring "foreseeability" of this attack is that a dog, allegedly rehabilitated by FHRC, was adopted to the Patterson family and required a shock collar as a condition. This type of dog should not be adopted to anyone, but an experienced trainer who desires a constant "project dog" with continuous management. Linda did not seem to have any experience with shock collars, as evidence by the fact that she took it off because she thought the collar "seemed to be tight."
No matter how the dice is rolled, Blue was a problematic pit bull -- far beyond the help of any narcissistic "disciples of Cesar Millan," who live in a Reality TV fantasy of their own making. The Patterson family should feel lied to because they were lied to by this rescue. We hope the victim's family sues FHRC into oblivion, forcing them to stop all rescue operations for good. In fact, they should sue the whole chain of them, including ACT and NYCACC, as each lent a helping hand.
Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center's Denial Statement
We send out our deepest condolences to the Patterson family who adopted Blue. Blue went through our 3 month board and train program, and was a favorite amongst all of the staff members and volunteers. Blue loved other dogs, and didn't know a stranger. He never showed any aggression while at our training facility, and passed his final evaluation with flying colors before being adopted out to the Patterson family. Trainers spent yesterday morning checking over Blue's new home and going over training with Blue's new owner. There were 2 other dogs in Blue's new home, who Blue immediately bonded with. We do not know what events transpired in the moments before this tragedy occurred with Blue's owners mother, and none of us could have ever predicted this horrible event. We are devastated for the Patterson family and our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
As noted by our commenter, K-Hart, "These rescuers need to be held liable" for their "mauler peddling ads." Such ads regularly use "code words" for aggression to hide this behavior from the public and greatly minimize -- if not totally erase -- any mention of aggression. There is no such thing as "proof of rehabilitation" either, especially in the area of "impulsive aggression," by self-appointed experts, whose claim to fame is self-described as "disciples of Cesar Millan."
In their Denial Statement and web advertisement, Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center claimed they never saw aggression while at the same time supposedly rehabilitating Blue for behavior problems that are described with "code words" for aggression: “needing socialization" and "lack of impulse control" and bad reactions to "loud noises and sudden movements.” In other words, they claimed to rehabilitate a dog of negative behaviors they now say they never saw.
Simultaneously, their web advertisement describes a practically perfect dog, which required the new adopter to use a shock collar for correction.
The other arrow needs to be shot through city and county funded shelters that release death row dogs with documented aggression to unregulated rescues and rescue transporters en masse across the country. Blue was an owner surrender by the ripe age of 1 after lashing out at a child. By the ripe age of 1.5 years old -- when pit bulls reach sexual maturity and the bite, hold and shake trait typically kicks in -- he unleashed an unbridled attack on an elderly woman, killing her.
06/01/17: Rehomed Pit Bull Kills
Virginia Beach, VA - A pit bull adopted out by Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center viciously attacked an elderly woman the same day it was adopted. Police said the attack happened Wednesday. Police were dispatched to a home on Bunker Hill Lane in Pembroke Manor about 7:30 pm and found the victim with life-threatening injuries from the dog mauling. She died Thursday morning. Police said the dog is a 1-year old pit bull terrier, weighing 50 pounds.
Investigators said the dog attacked the woman after she fell on the floor (See: fatal pit bull attack of 86-year old Bessie Flowers. Her daughter's pit bulls killed her after she tripped on the dog bed last year). The woman's granddaughter told 13News Now the attack was "gruesome" and lasted about five minutes. She also said the family adopted the pit bull on Wednesday; the day of the attack. The pit bull showed no signs of aggression "until they took the shock collar off," she said.
The web advertisement also states the pit bull is male and that "all dogs will be spay/neutered and up to date on vaccines when adopted."
The granddaughter also shared with 13News Now the web advertisement for the dog: "Good with dogs, Good with older/considerate kids only, Good with adults, Does good in the car, Leash trained, Crate trained, Plays fetch, Likes to play with toys, Obedient, Playful, Affectionate, Eager to please, Intelligent, Even-tempered, Gentle, Goofy." Which is why the dog was wearing a shock collar? The dog is currently in quarantine at the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center.
Liability "Denial" Statement
The Virginia Beach-based rescue group subsequently released a liability "denial" statement to 13News Now that essentially blames the adopting family: "We do not know what events transpired in the moments before this tragedy occurred with Blue's owner's mother, and none of us could have ever predicted this horrible event," it reads in part. The news group reports the Patterson family is considering obtaining an attorney and taking legal action against the rescue organization.
It remains unclear if the rehomed pit bull was delivered to the home with the shock collar or not. What is clear is that in March 2015, Jamie Cochran, the president of Forever-Homes Sanctuary, Inc., was sent a notification letter by the Commonwealth of Virginia after "significant findings of noncompliance" were discovered at the rescue located at 4937 Broad Street. One of them was adopting out a dog unsterilized to a "private business" whose business is BREEDING dogs.
The Virginian-Pilot documented a deeper disturbing history of this rescue group back in 2012.
Also, General District Court records show that in April 2015 (one month after the Commonwealth found "significant findings of noncompliance" at Forever-Homes Sanctuary, Inc.), Cochran was charged with 7 misdemeanor violations for BRD/GROOM failure to provide care and 10 misdemeanor violations for inadequate animal care. Toni Enright was charged at the same time with 18 misdemeanor violations of the same nature. All of the General District Court charges appear to have been dismissed and were likely related to the failed inspection.
2It was 71 shares as we wrote this update. By the time we finished, it was 170. Obviously, sharing this fundraiser has taken on new meaning since the fatal pit bull attack due to the role it plays in the dog's known behavior.
01/31/18: Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited: Pit Bull Petition Is Too Late. I Already Quit.
09/20/16: What's Behind the Click and Bait Web Advertisements of Aggressive Shelter Dogs?
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05/05/09: Alexandra Semyonova: Heritability of Behavior in the Abnormally Aggressive Dog