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.
I would not want a mastiff or a presa canario in my home, especially not around children. Do these people do ANY thinking at all? Any research before they pick up a large, unpredictable shelter reject? The large, dangerous power breed fetish strikes again.
I don’t really think it’s fair to blame the victims. If you tell the truth about certain dog breeds being dangerous then you immediately get attacked by a bunch of screeching harpies who make these dogs their religion. This makes it hard to properly educate people. Then on the other side of it you have so-called dog experts saying how they are sweet and kind and just like any other breeds and even nanny dogs. This is obviously going to lead to tragedies like this.
They likely trusted that their pet had actually been tested for temperament in a reliable way and took the shelter’s word for that. I would blame the shelter and the dangerous dog worshipping hoards more than the people who adopted based on the biased information they were able to get.
Sometimes the first time people really realize that not all breeds are the same and that treating a dog well won’t make them safe is when they get mauled.
If only there were a way to hold the irresponsible shelters and dangerous dog worshipers liable for the deaths and maulings.
Yeah one of the husband’s friends even posted on his wall that these types of dogs were friendly and good with kids. With “friends” like that who needs enemies.
That person probably didn’t know any better either though. Perhaps they do now. I hope so and I hope they learned not to present dangerous dogs as safe.
It’s heartbreaking to go back on the husband’s facebook wall and see the post about their anniversary and how he was looking forward to 26 more years with his wife, etc.
I think he should sue them for wrongful death.
Well, there is. It’s called BSL. As in, Breed-Specific Litigation.
I hope that the Sweeney family has a good lawyer. Because there are some big, juicy pots of gold for him or her to go after. Animal Foundation, I’m looking right at ya. Best Friends Animal Society, you too.
It’s not possible to accurately temperament test psychopath suicidal dogs, dogs intentionally created to be calm and sweet right up to the moment they become game-insane, when instinct to attack meets opportunity to reach a victim. Good mauling dogs attack and fight to the death over nothing, on mutant man-made instinct alone.
It’s not victim blaming, it’s facing reality. They guy himself is quoted below “never had this breed before so if anyone out there know anything about them please share”. It takes about 60 seconds to find out breed information using an online search engine. Here’s what I found: ” The Presa Canario is not an appropriate choice for an inexperienced dog owner. First-time dog owners and people who have had only “soft” breeds such as retrievers, spaniels, or toy breeds need not apply. In the wrong hands, the Presa is dangerous. Two Presas killed a woman in San Francisco in 2006. This dog is large, powerful, intelligent, and headstrong.” At some point I think we need to look at the failure of personal responsibility as well as the shelters failures.
That FB post by the husband has a lot of foreshadowing in it….”never had this breed before so if anyone out there know anything about them please share”…. and “hope he is great indoors and not tear everything up.” Well, Patrick, that is the problem with shelters pushing these agressive breeds on unsuspecting people, they do “tear everything up” when they “bite” (maul is more appropriate for what they do).
On more thing, “brindle mix” is something my local news website is using instead of saying pit bull. He mentions this as part of the breed and I suspect this is how the shelter had it labeled since he doesn’t know anything about this breed.
I read an article calling this dog a mastiff/ presa canario mix. Presa’s are what killed Diane Whipple.
Presa Canarios were, like pit bulls, bred for dog fighting. I’m sure they still are.
I checked out the Animal Foundation website. They have mostly pit bulls and other fighting breeds. However, they do not list them as such and just have them listed as what colour they are. Many are just strays that were found in the street. Nice.
I see. They probably don’t want their shelter statistics reflecting the truth here: a massively disproportionate number of shelter dogs are pit bulls. Sensible people also aren’t going to want a pitbull so they have to hide what the dogs are. It’s also crazy how many of those dogs are strays. Who would want a stray fighting-breed dog without knowing anything about it? Yikes.
I notice in the article they call a dog a “Staffordshire Terrier.” I know those are related to pit bulls, but purebred Staffordshire Terriers are quite rare. I suspect they call pit bulls “Staffordshire Terriers” because most people are familiar with pitbulls but may not know what a Staffordshire is.
Of course, the American Staffordshires are just pit bulls with a different name.
This dog looks EXACTLY like a fake service dog that a local homeless couple is always dragging into businesses and public places in my town. They could be littermates, it is so close. They call it a “boxer/mastiff”. It wears a silly little generic “service” vest and everything.
English Mastiff and other Mastiffs are over a hundred pounds for a female much larger for a male to over 200 lb this dogs must be Mastiff Pitbull mix that’s why they use the word brindle so unsuspecting people think it’s a breed and not a Pitbull..The dog that killed her was a healthy weight of 83 lb.Presa Canario mastiff mix would be over a hundred and 30 lb.II think the new strategy is when people get killed by pit bulls they have the dogs listed as other breeds to change the statistics of pit bull deaths.
I have a Mastiff as in English Mastiff! They are by far the most peaceful of the Mastiff breeds! A small English Mastiff female would be 130 plus pounds. My female got to almost 200 lbs before cancer! I wouldn’t at all be shocked if the attacking dog was a pit mix!
It looks more like a family member’s pitbull than a mastiff to me.Either way, you’d think that you would want to see the parents to assess genetic temperament before buying a dog, or any animal.
I had to put down my beloved English Mastiff , I had him since a puppy. He was raised with love , at 14 months he started ripping into his other pack members whom he had been raised with and loved . Then he went after my 81 year old mother who he also had known since a puppy. This dog was beloved, raised in our home . I adopted a Fluffy Mastiff who was huge , and had been abused and starved. He is my Angel, healed my Heart
I watched a short “Inside Edition” segment on this story found on YouTube which had the audio of the 911 call. Reading the comments there is infuriating. The level of ignorance is hard to even grasp. Most people commenting say that the husband must have killed the wife, that there’s “no way” the dog could have done it. Part of their distrust is because the husband sounds calm in the call… I heard a man barely keeping it together.
Some even speculated that the husband killed the wife and then covered it up by pressing the dog’s teeth into her to make it look like the dog had bitten her. (They seriously said this!) It makes me wish that in some cases photos of the body could be published to show the actual devestation of an attack like this. It might open some folks’ eyes to the reality of a fatal mauling.
Ignorantly, many others just can’t believe that a dog which “only weighs 80 pounds” could possibly kill an adult. Some go so far as to say that this lady could have “easily” fought the dog off. Do people really have no inkling of the speed, power, tenacity and brute force of an attacking dog? A much smaller fighting breed could have easily done the same.
I can only imagine the regret this husband must live with every day for having brought home this dog.
It looks like a big pit bull to me.
Is that what all mastiffs look like?
It has the butt crack forehead,beady dead looking pig eyes and the muscled up jaws of a pit.
These shelters and “foundations” that push fighting breeds on unsuspecting families need to be sued and stripped of millions of dollars every time a deadly attack happens. That would make them change their ways.
People have no idea that shelters barely test dogs for aggression, that these tests can’t be relied on anyway, because the way this dog behaved with a trainer for 5 minutes doesn’t give you any idea about how it will behave with you and your children for the next decade; that more often than not people who work in those shelters are unethical dog worshipers who value dogs more than people; that if you try to research breeds online, your search results will take you to one of the countless websites bought and paid for by the same “foundations” and run by the same dog worshipers. Just because something is called a foundation and has an official sounding name, it doesn’t make it reliable.
I understand that shelters, unlike “foundations”, are part of the government, and people generally trust the government, however, there’s obviously some catch there too. Maybe it’s said somewhere in fine print that shelters are not responsible for any damages, but people don’t know that and see shelters as reliable and trustworthy.
Maybe if they get sued a lot, at least they’ll replace those fine print warnings with large and visible disclaimers hanging on walls, so naive people who want to “adopt” a dog will at least have some food for thought when they come to shelters.