The Animal Foundation "Vetted" and Adopted Out the Dog
Susan Sweeney, 58, was killed by a mastiff-mix she adopted three days earlier.
Shelter Dog Kills Adopter
UPDATE 10/09/18: On October 1, around 11:40 pm, a Las Vegas man came home from work and discovered his wife of 26 years dead, mauled to death by the family's recently adopted dog. Susan Sweeney, 58, was alone with the mastiff-mix at her home in the 5000 block of River Splash Avenue when the animal fatally attacked her. Sweeney was declared dead at 1:05 am Tuesday. The coroner's office ruled the cause of death a mauling. The manner of death was an accident.
The 3-year old male mastiff-mix was adopted to the family three days earlier by The Animal Foundation, which claims to be the "highest volume single-site animal shelter in America," on their website. The dog was 83 pounds, not large enough to be a mastiff-presa canario mix, as stated by city officials. The Foundation released a statement saying, it "did not have any information regarding the dog’s prior circumstances that would have led us to believe that he was unsafe."
One day before the family adopted the mastiff-mix, her husband posted photographs of the dog on Facebook. He also asked about the breed, "Question is never had this breed before so anyone out there know anything about them please share." Certainly, it never occurred to him that his question held "life or death" consequences. Unfortunately, it truly is a "life or death" decision every adopter accepts -- knowingly or not -- when adopting a dangerous dog breed from a public shelter today.
Notably, during the news coverage, a bright, colorful Best Friends Animal Society transport van was seen in The Animal Foundation's parking lot. Best Friends is the largest promoter of reckless no kill policies, which places "save rates" an order of magnitude higher than public safety.
10/05/18: Woman Killed by Own Dog
Las Vegas, NV - A 58-year old woman was killed on October 1 by a recently adopted dog. Today, the Clark County Coroner identified the victim as Susan Sweeney. The cause of death was ruled a dog mauling. On October 1, Las Vegas police were dispatched to a home in the 5000 block of River Splash Avenue around 11:40 pm after a family member called saying a woman appeared to be deceased. The family member told police they had only had the mastiff-mix for a few days.
The victim's family recently started a GoFundMe page. "This GoFundMe will cover the funeral expenses for our beloved Susie," states the page. Sweeney leaves behind two children and a husband of 26 years, states the page. According to her husband Patrick's Facebook page, the couple adopted a 3-year old male mastiff-mix on September 28 from an unspecified shelter. The dog literally attacked and killed her three days later. The shelter facility has not been identified.
The husband also posted on September 6, saying that his family dog had recently been laid to rest. "All those dog lovers know the emptiness after the fact and to say I miss him and love him so much doesn't say enough but I know he will always be with me," Patrick said. This may have been why the couple decided to adopt a dog a few weeks later. That should have never been a "life or death" decision, but it is today when you adopt certain dog breeds from a rescue or shelter.
Sweeney's mauling death marks the fourth deadly dog attack this year by a recently adopted or rehomed dog. Three of these fatalities involved rescue pit bulls. Sweeney's death also marks the seventh dog bite fatality in 2018, where the animal fatally attacked its owner. Five of these owner fatalities involved pit bulls, one fatality involved a dogo argentino and Sweeny's death involved a mastiff-mix. So far in 2018, at least 24 Americans have been mauled to death by a canine.
An update by KTNV News around 4:15 pm Central time, states the dog is mastiff-presa canario mix. It was adopted from The Animal Foundation, which is the "highest volume single-site animal shelter in America," according to their website. Las Vegas Animal Control said the dog's behavior was assessed before it was adopted. For over a decade, The Animal Foundation operated the city's municipal shelter (Lied Animal Shelter). Apparently, the nonprofit still maintains this contract.
The Animal Foundation released a statement to KTNV News about Sweeney's mauling death:
"The Animal Foundation has recently learned that a woman who adopted a large dog from our shelter lost her life as the result of an apparent attack from the same dog. At the request of her husband, the dog was humanely euthanized after the conclusion of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s investigation. The Animal Foundation did not have any information regarding the dog’s prior circumstances that would have led us to believe that he was unsafe, and while this dog was in our care his behavior did not raise any concerns. There are no words that can appropriately convey the deep sadness felt by The Animal Foundation. Our sympathies, thoughts, and prayers are with this woman’s family in the wake of their heartbreaking loss."
The Animal Foundation now joins a growing number of shelters that adopted out a dog that killed a person. In September, the Logan County Pound (WV) allowed a rescue to "pull" a death row pit bull, which quickly killed its new owner. In 2017, the Kent County Animal Shelter (MI) and El Paso Animal Services (TX) were the origins of dogs that each killed a child. In late 2016, the New York City municipal shelter allowed a rescue to "pull" a death row pit bull, which killed its new adopter.
In April 2016, the San Diego Humane Society adopted out a pit bull-mix that struck down an infant. In 2015, the Jackson-Madison County Pound (TN) adopted out a rottweiler that instantly killed its new owner. Also in 2015, the Asheville Humane Society adopted out a pit bull that killed a 6-year old boy three weeks later. Asheville Humane used the "state-of-the-art" temperament test, SAFER, to test the dog, which cannot measure unpredictable aggression nor can any temperament test.
- The Animal Foundation's statement after fatal mastiff attack
- Forever Home Rescue's statement after fatal pit bull attack
- San Diego Humane Society's statement (in part) after fatal pit bull attack
- Asheville Humane Society's statement after fatal pit bull attack
Animal behaviorist Alexandra Semyonova wrote an analysis of shelter dog assessments in September 2016: Behavior Testing Shelter Dogs -- A Summary of Where We Are Now
10/03/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Adopted Two Weeks Ago Kills Woman in Maryland
06/10/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: 6-Year Old Boy Killed by Rescued Pit Bull in Pennsylvania
01/15/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: New Family Pit Bull Kills 3-Year Old Girl in Oklahoma
09/20/16: Shelters Candy-Coat Dogs with Aggressive Behaviors to Increase 'Save Rate'
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.