Please donate to support our work is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity organization. Learn more »

43 thoughts on “2019 Dog Bite Fatality: 4-Year Old Boy Killed by Pit Bull His Family Was Housing at Their Hazel Park Home

Please review our comment policy.

  1. It boggles my mind, how anyone would choose to “foster” unknown animals with children in the house! In particular, it’s crazy to me that they would allow a large dog to be placed in their home, let alone a pitbull.

    I’m about to say something that’s going to offend a lot of people:

    Typically, dogs end up in shelters because they aren’t very good dogs. Sometimes they end up in the shelter because of the death of their owner or other circumstances like animal hoarding. I’m willing to bet, that most dogs end up in the shelter because they are aggressive, or they pee all over the floor, or they chew drywall, or (insert problem). But, when is the last time you saw, say…. a golden retriever in your local shelter? I’m willing to bet it’s been a while, because your shelter is full of pitbulls. Because pitbulls weren’t actually meant to be civilized pets, so they’re pretty bad at it, and they make people want to get rid of them. It’s pretty a pretty simple concept to recognize, really. I wish more people would wake up and see this pitbull problem for what it is before they invite death and destruction into their homes.

    • Fighting breeds absolutely were not bred to be pets or working dogs. They were bred to fight.

      Strictly speaking, however, working dogs weren’t originally bred to be pets either. Just note that the characteristics being bred for weren’t straight-up unprovoked aggression, gripping kill bites & maul-to-death attack style.

      It isn’t that working dogs who don’t make good pets “just aren’t very good dogs.” They may be (and frequently are) excellent dogs. What they are is not suited for house-bound, largely sedentary lives.

      When people buy or adopt dogs with unrealistic expectations about the dog and their own lifestyle, yeah, this will frequently result in nuisance behavior. Sometimes that nuisance behavior will result in dumping or owner surrender.

      With *most* breeds, the mismatch of dog to household, while sad, is not a bloodbath. Pits are different. They don’t just bite; they maul. They do so without standard dog warning behavior and vocalizations.

      So while they are, technically, dogs, standard dog behavior that makes other dogs suitable for of the company of humans and other dogs, has been bred out of pits. And pathological behavior has been bred into them.

      It is pits that are not good dogs, because they have been genetically turned from dog to frankenmauler.

    • That’s partially correct. Today, it’s true. But not in the past. And that’s the recent past, as in up through the 1990s.

      Historically, shelter dogs were mostly the result of casual breeding – my spaniel got loose and had a passionate romance with my neighbor’s collie. Short time later, a litter of spaniel/collies – genetically sturdy from cross-breeding, mentally and emotionally advantaged as being from breed types developed to be partners with humans in non-violent activities, and socialized effortlessly as they were raised in the kitchen with the kids from infancy. When they landed at the shelter at 8 weeks, they were typically wonderful prospective pets. The problem was that there were more of them than available homes. So we spent decades telling everyone to sterilize their pet dogs to end the carnage of euthanizing healthy, adoptable dogs. It eventually worked.

      Today, the casual breeding of pet dogs is pretty much extinct. The majority of dogs being bred are owned by a) puppy mills and b) pit bull owners. The former breed for profit and the latter for profit and ego, but both neglect the genetic and social health of their animals, creating a high probability of physical and temperament problems. When those litters end up in a shelter or rescue, they’re not the result of stable family dogs, and it shows – these are the dogs who have anxiety issues, who overreact to minor stimuli, who bite, who kill other animals.

      But the shelters/rescues won’t admit things have changed. They keep beating the same drum – sterilize your healthy family pet – with the new line about how pit bulls are the awesomest and you should adopt one or two today.

      The result has been horrific and predictable – shelters across the US are expanding to take in more and more dogs, almost all pit bulls, and expanding their services to include intensive rehab activities.

    • I worked in a shelter for 5 years as dog team captain. I never saw a golden retriever. We always had pits, mixes, german shepherd etc. They were terrible, apathetic and aggressive. But boy ow boy did they market the shit of them on the website etc. Fatal mistakes waiting to happen.

    • I wrote this comment before my morning cup of coffee, so please excuse my grammatical errors.

      What I was really trying to drive home, is the fact that people don’t try to get rid of the best dog/cat/bird/hamster they’ve ever owned. You can assume that most animals that end up in shelters have some sort of major behavioral problem. Pitbulls make up the vast majority of shelter animals because they were never intended to be used as human companions. In my opinion, they can’t even be classified as a “working dog” because the only purpose they serve is death. They end up in shelters because they suck at everything except for violence and aggression, they are generally entirely too energetic, and hard to handle/train. There is literally no use for the pitbull in civilized society, hence the reason they wind up in shelters more than any other breed.

    • Rottweilers and pit bull dogs should never be pets. All the Siberian Huskies to my personal list after knowing a family who had their six-year-old boy torn to pieces by their pet Siberians. Lot of dogs bite, any breed, but most dogs don’t kill like these breeds

  2. The rescue needs to be sued. Until they are held financially responsible for these attacks they will keep reselling dangerous dogs.

    • I’m thinking from the statements in the article about this foster situation being “a kind gesture to help out a friend” that this dog did not come from a rescue organization. The term “foster” is bandied about these days almost as quickly as “rescue” and often has nothing to do with any actual organization or group. Watching a friend’s dog because they can’t keep it any more due to XYZ? Congratulations, you’re fostering! Getting a dog off Craigslist? Congratulations, you just rescued it!

      Language MATTERS, and we need to stop this ridiculousness of making the process of getting a dog, or even temporarily keeping a dog until a home is found, sound like it is some noble and heroic deed. Because instead of being reasonable and thoughtful about what dogs they are bringing into their homes, people are being made to think that they are doing the ultimate good deed if you foster or rescue. And this is while actually researching and purchasing a dog from a breeder is made out to be a horrible thing worthy of shaming. In many circles, showing a picture of a new puppy bought from a breeder only gets snide remarks about how there are lots of great dogs in shelters waiting for homes. No, there are mostly pit bulls in shelters and they are there for a reason.

      Such a devastating lesson for this family. Sometimes the best “good deed” that you can do is to never put your children into a dangerous situation. But if all they have ever heard is about “misunderstood nanny dogs” then why would they ever hesitate to bring a pit bull into their home? They simply believed the widespread lie. It is almost certain that the owner of this dog who talked them into “fostering” it said “it would never hurt a fly” or some similar line. And that dog owner probably believed it themselves. That’s why education is so important!

      • Agree, this is not a foster dog from a rescue, though it just as easily could have been. My thoughts go out to the family of this innocent child, and owner of the dog. I am sure they bought into the hype about how great these dogs are. So incredibly sad. I can not imagine the guilt all parties are going through. Michigan is not faring well this year.

      • Yoder, absolutely right on all counts. This “rescue” thing has gotten ridiculous. A lot of it is ego-driven. People want a story (or overused term “narrative”) about their poor, misunderstood pit/pit mix rescue or any rescue dog for that matter. Dogs end up in shelters for many reasons. Sometimes they’re just bad or unsafe animals. I’d have no problem going to a breeder to learn the lineage of what I’m bringing into my home. No, it won’t be a big, dramatic story to make myself look “heroic” but I’ll know what I’m getting. So many of these horrific attacks involve dogs that have never shown aggression. Pits are one of only a few breeds that will attack children and old people without provocation.

  3. Frankly, I hate the whole “adopting/foster” language to begin with.

    I *own* a dog. As such, I am responsible for it, throughout it’s life.

    If I adopted a child, one day it would grow up and I wouldn’t be responsible for it.

    I *am looking after* a friend’s/rescue/whathaveyou dog. As such, I am responsible for it, within limits, for as long as I have it. Those limits are the agreement I made with the dog’s actual owner.

    It’s also a massive insult to adoptees and foster children. They can’t be owned, they aren’t pets, and you can’t just euthanize them or dump them back at the orphanage or wherever, when they get too hard to handle.

  4. Yes, it is an absolutely different relationship and I wish it didn’t have the same language.

    I know foster families and adoptive families of ACTUAL HUMAN CHILDREN and to use that same language for a dog is just demeaning. I feel the same about calling dogs “siblings” to human children. And I once saw a lot of confusion generated when a person wrote about a pit bull attacking their “son.” All the photos they provided were of a mauled dog, and commenters asked how their son fared in the attack since there were no photos provided of a human. Turns out that the “son” in the story was the dog. I love my three dogs and my many other pets (parrots, ferrets, etc), but I am their owner and not their parent. We de-value human life in this generation and lift dogs up as the noblest and best of creatures. I see tons of memes with sentiments like “I trust dogs more than any person” and “dogs are better than most people I know” and “dogs are better than people because they will never break your heart.” That kind of thinking is dangerous. They are animals and always will be despite what labels we attach to them.

    • Yes! It started with “fur-baby,” and morphed into my dog is my child. Now, my grandchild. Ugh. I think good dogs are wonderful companions, but this is nuts. It’s appalling to learn that families of victims are attacked after the death of a loved one IF they say anything negative about the breed. To put a dog’s life above a human’s is indeed dangerous thinking. Beyond that, my mother was terrified of dogs, and there are people allergic to dogs. I resent these memes that imply if you don’t like dogs, there’s something wrong with you. I’m noticing people are replacing human relationships with pets because they don’t talk back. Yikes.

    • I meant to add that the “dogs will never break your heart” meme is particularly false. Every dog featured on this page of fatalities has broken someone’s heart when it killed a beloved family member… or in those last moments when the owner was fighting for life against his or her own pet. This mother who was stabbing the dog with a knife while he destroyed her child, this sister who had to call 911 even as her baby brother was being mauled to death, the former owner of the dog who is now burdened with the knowledge that their sweet “unaggressive” pit bull has inflicted suffering on a family which was trying to do them a favor… all these are hearts broken by a dog. In the case of pits and other bully breeds, broken hearts are just part of the harsh reality. And that’s something that creative wording and fanciful flower crowns won’t change, because it’s in their DNA.

  5. “… a dog that was said to have never shown aggressive behaviors.”

    There is always a first time for all unpredictably dangerous animals. When will people stop forcing unpredictably dangerous animals upon their children and on other people?

  6. Also, half the people who say “never shown aggression” are clueless.

    I’m out today and a brindle pitbull on one of those useless anti-pull harnesses is *dragging* a woman down the street while barking and lunging at my dog, half a block away. Can’t count the amount of dimwits with dogs behaving like that who have said to me, “my dog’s just excited, s/he loves everybody”.

    It was one inch of nylon or a dropped leash from doing damage.

    When it kills a poodle or mauls a child she’s likely to say, “He was never aggressive before”

    That’s why I never believe the self-reporting.

    Now this poor family has lost their child because some deluded individual told them their dog was perfectly safe to dog sit, for.

  7. On February 13, 1945, in Los Angeles, a 35-lb “pit bulldog” named Woof fatally mauled a 21-month-old girl, Marguerite Derdenger, in the presence of the girl’s mother. The dog attacked without warning after the child hugged her mother. The parents (dad was away in military service at the time) had owned the dog for five years. The child had known and played with the dog her entire (very brief) life.

    Mrs. Derdenger requested the dog to be euthanized.

    Three days after the fatal attack, the following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph:

    A “pit” bulldog belongs to a strain of dogs which have been trained for centuries to fight each other in bloody battle to the death in a dog pit.

    Around this pit, or arena, inhuman humans, more brutal than the brutes that they brutalized, assembled to gratify an evil lust for blood and rejoice in the suffering and death of the wretched animals they had trained to cruelty and ferocity.

    Today dog fighting is forbidden by law, but its sadism and evil blood lust still persist in various forms.

    Indeed dog fights are still held secretly in hidden cellars.

    And other equally sadistic crimes against miserable animals are still perpetrated behind the closed doors of laboratories into which the public is never allowed to look.

    Small wonder that pit bulldogs have inherited the ferocity of their masters, who trained them to brutality.

    No pit bulldog should ever be made the companion of a child.

    Parents should heed this warning.

    There are plenty of dogs trained by gentleness and kindness to protect children and which will sacrifice their own lives in their loyalty to their humane masters.

    — Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, Feb. 16, 1945, p.1. (Entire editorial was printed in boldface)

  8. I frequently walk through San Francisco, and a frequent sight is a small fragile looking woman walking a huge ugly muscle bound pit bull. When I back off to let them pass, the owners will say something like, “He’s friendly”. Argh!

  9. A parent’s worst nightmare. How unbelievably heartbreaking. Another beautiful little person destroyed by a pit bull.

    Nutters love to blather on about how you should never leave a child alone with a dog. How many times have children (and adults, for that matter) been killed by pit bulls while the parent or guardian is RIGHT THERE with the child, just like in this case? There is nothing they can do to stop the vile beast from mangling and mutilating their child until they’re lifeless. Stabbing, punching, cutting, hitting, screaming, beating, tasing, biting, pulling, shovels, bricks, car bumpers, lead pipes, fire extinguishers…you name it. These methods have all been used against an attacking pit bull, and children still end up dead. Even wild predators will back off when they realize they have a real fight on their hands.
    If this poor mom is anything like me, she fought like hell to save her child and she would have died to save him. I can’t even imagine what the mom and big sister are dealing with. Trying to do a good deed for a friend, and she loses her child as a result. Unreal.

    My condolences to the family of little Benjamin. My heart also goes out to the first responders who witnessed the aftermath. So utterly horrible.

  10. This is such a horrible tragedy, and it happened due to ignorance. First of all, I do NOT believe that this dog should have had any access to this child. How could any parent be sure this dog was safe around his/her child? Secondly, people need to understand that about 90% of the time people are giving incorrect information when they say their dog will/will not bite.

    I saw a pit bull years ago that had seriously mauled and permanently crippled a twenty year old man. Did the dog’s owner tell me about that and muzzle his dog to protect my staff and me? Of course not. He left this dog in an exam room with grade school children. The reason I knew about the attack was because a staff member knew about it and told me.

    I have GSDs. Would I bring home an adult GSD and chance it attacking a child when I first got it? Of course not. I would want to spend many hours with that dog in order to assess its temperament. Why do people just assume a dog won’t attack a child?

    • If they were watching the dog for a friend, the friend probably told them how much the dog *loooves kids* and how gentle and safe and goofy etc. etc. the dog is. This woman isn’t a pit nutter; she’s someone who apparently listened to and tried to help a friend, and lost her son because of it.

      The pit propaganda spews out lies 24/7, and chief among those lies are “They’re just like any other dog,” and, “It’s all how you raise them.” There are lots of good people out there who have never owned a dog, or haven’t owned one since they were kids, and don’t understand the difference between a pit and a normal dog; they don’t understand that pits aren’t like the dogs who filled our parks and streets and homes twenty years ago, where you could be reasonably certain that your child could walk up to any random dog it had never met and be safe, or where the fact that a dog had been a pet in your friend’s home for two years meant it was a good, safe dog. People just assume a dog won’t randomly attack a child because such a thing was unheard of before pits started invading our neighborhoods, and are still unheard of when we’re talking about any breed except pits and their mixes.

      Good people can be unaware of the difference, good people can believe their friends, and good people can fall for the nutter lies without being irresponsible or deserving of your scorn.

  11. God, this is just heartbreaking. I’m looking at the mother’s FB page and it is clear that that little boy was so very loved and taken care of. There is NO pit nutter crap on her page; there’s not even any Rescue Angel memes or anything. This woman was not a nutter, she was not a Save ’em All True Believer or even, it seems, one of those “I love animals more than anything ever” virtue signalers. Her YouTube is full of kiddie videos and music videos; not a single “Watch my pitbull lick people! See, pits aren’t dangerous!” video among them.

    IMO–based just on whatI’ve seen on her page and a few of her friends’s pages–she’s not someone who devotes big chunks of her time to animals/thinking about animals/talking about animals at all. I honestly don’t think she was aware of the risk she was taking bringing this dog into her home.

    It’s easy to say she should have been, and if this truly was a “foster” or “rescue” situation I would probably feel differently, but all I’m seeing is a busy, pretty warm and likable person who agreed to do a favor for a friend, and accepted that friend’s assurances that it was a perfectly safe favor to do. How many of us here would refuse to pet-sit for a friend, if/when that friend had safely owned that dog for some time and promised us it was “great with kids” and such?

    Maybe the mom could have done more research. Maybe she should have known. But I don’t think either of those are serious enough failures that she deserved what happened or that she should be blamed for it.

    I’m heartened by the GoFundMe, where Benjamin’s aunt (who set up the page) says, “We have learned that we are far from alone in our struggle, as diligent and loving parents from all walks of life have suffered this catastrophic loss under similar horrifying circumstances.”

    I take that to mean they were indeed unaware of the dangers pit bulls pose or how high their annual death counts are…and that now they know, maybe they will speak up about it. They could reasonably say that the lies of the nutters are largely responsible for this sweet little boy’s death, and I hope they do decide to help prevent this from happening to any other family by sharing their story (when they are ready).

    • Your compassion, and thoughtful take on this tragedy is appreciated. I agree, we must never become the rabid, hatefully people that attack victims. Education is a powerful tool

      • Thank you. And yes, this poor family will be getting enough viciousness and insults from the nutters, they don’t need it from us, too. I can totally understand the urge, when you are as aware of the issue as we are, to wonder why this was allowed to happen, but we need to remember how very swept-under-the-rug these deaths (and the truth about these dogs) are.

        I just personally hope that maybe this family–as I hope that all of the families of victims–will find this page, and decide to reach out for support. I’d hate to think of them finding it and seeing comments blaming them for doing what they thought was a nice, safe thing to do (for all we know they didn’t even know what the dog was, and were told it was a “lab mix” or something), especially when they have suffered a loss they will never recover from.

        My heart just breaks for them.

    • I totally agree that compassion and education are what is needed to help people see the reality of the pit bull epidemic. These two elements are in sharp contrast to the tools of the pit bull pushers… they must resort to bullying and misinformation because the truth is not on their side. And this is why they attack anyone who disagrees with them, including their “own” when tragedy strikes. Anything goes (in their eyes) as long as their precious breed is not just accepted but actively endorsed as being the best of dogs. I think that with social media and websites like this one, the truth will come out and more and more people will have their eyes opened to the dangers of these dogs. But it can’t be done effectively with the same low tactics they use, such as victim bashing and name calling.

      I believe that Benjamin’s family has the potential to become a voice of reason in this battle. It was a heavy, heavy price… but good can come from such loss and other lives can be saved.

      • Exactly. We need to be better than the pit pushers, because we fight for the victims and the safety of all.

        And I too think their story could make a difference. I hope they eventually find the peace they need to tell it.

    • Extremely heartbreaking story. Undoubtedly the mother was completely ignorant that a pitbull dog is not like a normal dog. Many people still are, if they have not been personally affected or had a tragedy in their community. I had small children, and had no idea that a particular dog breed could be so dangerous, until their was a tragedy in my local community. I didn’t personally know the family, but having a child the same age, I deeply felt for them and what they were going through. Then as more news came out, and I started to do research, it was depressing to learn this wasn’t just some random, unpredictable event. A pitbull attack is very predictable–sure not all pitbulls will attack, but being around a pitbull is a deadly gamble. Too many people are still ignorant of this.

      • Sadly there is so much disinformation out there that many people who are inexperienced with pits think they are “goofy love-a-BULL wiggle butts and the bestest dogs ever”.

  12. So sad another innocent child will never grow up, and suffered a painful, scary, and completely preventable death. Read some of the comments on the go fund me page. People should realize that just because rescue groups and TV shows say this breed is great to “rescue “, it’s not true and they should be held accountable for spreading lies and misinformation. If gun manufacturers are held liable for mass shootings, then pit promoters should be liable for these childrens deaths

  13. And why do people keep searching for a “reason ” the dog attacked.? The reason is the dog was a pit bull, it needs no reason to do what it was bred for centuries to do, kill other living things. Retrieving breeds, retrieve, collies are bred to be companions and herd, etc, pit bulls are bred to kill, end of story.

  14. I still cannot accept the death of this child. If the breed of dog brought home had been a different one, this child would be alive and playing.

    There is no place in a civilized world for dogs that viciously explode and kill. The mother of this child was present at the time of the attack and still could not save her son. What does that say for the breed? She could have saved her son if the breed had been different. So terribly sad for all involved.

    About the only other thing I will say is that the child might have lived if the mother had used a break stick, a gun, a knife, or cervical constriction effectively. That would have had to have been pre-planned. Who plans for a dog murdering a precious child?

  15. These people sound like the kind who would have made sure their child wore a bike helmet, but sadly didn’t know enough to keep a bloodsport dog out of their house. Ignorance of pit bulls kills.

  16. I just read the medical study file “Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit” which is linked above. The “graphic” warning should be heeded… it is hard to see, with a decapitated infant and other photos of horribly mutilated victims. The pictures speak for themselves, and the descriptions of the attacks show that these were unprovoked attacks and were mostly perpetrated by family dogs. I know it would be impossible to do, but I wish that these photos and stories could be made mandatory viewing for those who defend this breed. I’m sure they would cry “fake news” but this is a study which was published in a medical journal.

    Sadly, at the end of the study the author says that a variety of factors leads to these maulings, and does not seem to lend enough credence to the genetics of the breed itself. But even so, it is a credible and matter of fact study.

    If more people saw the gruesome truth, I think there would be far fewer willing to defend this breed or take them into their homes. When people read a headline which says “child dies from dog bite” this is certainly not what they picture. It is impossible to defend the dogs which caused these horrific injuries as being “scared” or “protective.” These are animals which have been bred to kill their victims at any cost, and to inflict as much damage as possible. Humans created them for vile entertainment, and humans need to put an end to the propagation and defense of them now. If people knew the reality of the kind of damage they can inflict WITHOUT WARNING OR PROVOCATION, you’d see far fewer deaths like young Benjamin. Do you think this attentive, caring mother would have brought an animal capable of inflicting such damage into her home if she had known the reality of the danger to her children? But the truth is hidden, covered up by falsehoods, blatant misinformation and thousands of pictures of babies draped across their parents’ pitbulls to show how loving and sweet they are. Those pictures show a singular moment in time when the dogs didn’t attack. The photos in this medical study show a moment in time when they did follow their breed instinct. They are the last photos ever taken of these children, because their lives were snuffed out simply because someone wanted a pitbull as a pet.

    • And the pit bull didn’t just decapitate the baby. Pieces of the baby’s head and flesh were found in the dog’s stomach. The dog partially *ate* that baby’s head. Vile, vicious creature.

      Yes, the report draws a very weak and muddled conclusion, mumbling about maybe genetics plus conditioning (“these animals are quite often trained to protect, fight and guard”). The ludicrousness of the latter speculation should be readily apparent. What kind of training results in a dog that kills tiny kids and infants — when no threat is present? And if it’s training, we would be seeing the same or nearly the same rate of child killing by guard dog breeds like GSDs and Dobies. Which we don’t. Because of course it *isn’t* the training. Or the lack of training. It’s genetics.

      As for what uninformed people picture when they hear about a fatal mauling by pit bull, I don’t think they picture anything really. It’s disturbing to think about, so they don’t. And even if they tried to, nothing in their frame of reference about dog attacks would suggest scalping and dismemberment. This is the sort of stuff straight out of a horror movie. Unfortunately, it’s not a movie.

      • There is one case where one of the mangled children was struck by a policeman’s bullet while the cops were trying to stop the dogs. Look how little damage the bullet did compared to the pits.

    • hidden? you’re kidding, right? as in, hidden in the plain sight of repeated national news stories detailing pit bull attack after pit bull attack on both people and other animals? hidden in the plain sight of both national and local movements to ban the breed? stop excusing the willfull irresponsibility of this kind of behavior.

  17. I live in that city and that breed WAS banned. We have a city Council member that is a pit bull advocate and the ban is gone now. She is also involved with the city Animal shelter. There have been several dog fighting rings very close to this town too, I will not walk around town unless I have mace because of these vicious dogs. I need some information on how to get the ban back. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *