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

33 thoughts on “2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman, 49, Dies After Being Mauled by Her Two Rescue Great Danes in Warren County, Ohio

Please review our comment policy.

  1. Thank you so much for researching so thoroughly. Boggles my mind that anyone would continue to keep a dog that has repeatedly bit them. Maybe afraid to fail? How horrible to go home to that sight.

  2. “…This year, a wider variety of breeds have been involved in fatal attacks than usual…”

    In my experience, a wide variety of dog breeds are sometimes unpredictable and/or sometimes show sign of aggressiveness and/or are immediately actively aggressive.

    A wide variety of dog breeds severely maul and/or fatally maul. Dog aggression can occur if the dog is of any breed, or is properly fed, overfed or appears trim in accordance with its breed. Dog aggression can occur if the owner is or is not in any specific psych-social-economic-intelligence classification, or is/is not in any other classification.

    Dog aggression can occur anytime that any dog is physically present in the circumstances of the situation.

    • I agree completely. Pits are the main problem and are exponentially more dangerous than other dogs. However any dog can attack. The larger the dog, the greater the risk. Owners need to be aware of this. All dogs need to be leashed when in public. This is why ESA dogs on airplanes are such a problem. This is also why I do not like the trend of people bringing their dogs with them everywhere.

  3. Great Danes were bred for hunting wild boars. Wild boars are ferocious, ruthless killers. Most recently, they have been used as guard dogs, and mistaken for good family pets. It’s my opinion that a dog bred for such a task is not a good dog to have inside your home. Clearly, this woman had some problems, which may have contributed to her ability to make good decisions. This is especially true because the dog had been aggressive before, and no action was taken.

    People need to realize that euthanasia is perfectly acceptable. We can’t “save them all” because some of them can’t function in society. We need to value human life over animals. When I was a child, we had a cat that would scoot sideways across the house and attack me. I have an autoimmune disease, and my skin would become extremely infected and would not heal easily, so being scratched, bitten, and terrorized constantly was a risk to my health. Unfortunately, my parents had to make a tough decision. One day, my sister and I came home from school, and kitty was gone. While it was sad, and my parents still feel a certain amount of guilt for having the cat put down, it is OKAY. It actually would have been a disservice to that poor cat to pass it from home to home (we were its 3rd home already).

    • Exactly Mama Bear.

      People before Pets.

      Sometimes, due to poor breeding, physical or mental illness, a pet can’t be fixed. That is the sad part of pet ownership.

      Painful as it is, sometimes people just have to sack up and put Fido or Evil Kitty, down, for the safety of their family and community.

      All this shuffling sh*tty pets around rescues instead of euthanasia is causing massive problems for pet owners and everyone around them.

    • I have had Great Danes my whole life. There has been a recent rash of them hurting people due to bad breeding. They are great family companions, but require responsible ownership like any large powerful breed. The fact that they were hunters doesn’t make them aggressive towards people. Being guard dogs should mean they are especially good to their families which is what I have always experienced.

      The only dangerous danes I have ever been around were rescues or from bad breeders. Never buy a dane advertised as “euro” or from a breeder that breaks the color standards. Stick with “American” blood lines that have been breed for temperament first and are fully health tested. The breed is going backwards and losing the reputation as responsible breeders worked so hard to achieve. The breed standards in Europe are the same as here by the way. The “euro” thing has nothing to do with European counties. It is a marketing term for horribly conformed unhealthy dogs that will likely have behavior problems.

      As much as I love them, these dogs are a liability if they have to be rehomed after puppyhood. They are lovers and suffer great trauma when they lose their family. They should be put down if they have to be rehomed. I would never put one around my kids. The world has gotten too soft. Human life is more valuable than a dog’s.

  4. Clearly it’s rare for a Great Dane to be involved in a fatal mauling. Wild Boar hunter or not, generally they are pretty mild mannered. Unlike Pit Bulls, most dogs will give clear signs if they have aggressive tendencies. That’s even true of most Rotties or German Shepherds, breeds which have been involved in quite a few fatal maulings. It could be due to medical conditions, or possibly a previous or current living environment, but clearly there were signs here and the behaviour of the owners, including the lack of care of the dogs, may have contributed. Pit Bulls on the other hand don’t show their hand so most people’s response to a fatal mauling is something like this “He was the sweetest thing ever, until he ate my baby.” So please, let’s not get over the top about dogs who clearly showed there was a behavioral problem in advance. The owners here should have been looking for possible medical or environmental issues and if there were none, then they should have done something with the dog, or dogs, sooner. Pit Bulls on the other hand…often there is no advance warning so it’s best to avoid them completely.

    • Yes, Great Danes are very vocal and have very animated facial expressions just like Scooby Doo. You know how they are feeling at all times. My Dane that recently past after 11 years had a very guarding and protective personality. I saw that in him as he grew up and took precautions accordingly. He would have taken a hail of bullets for my kids. Dude was fearless and suspicious of people he didn’t know. If he ever would have shown any aggression towards my family he would have gotten put down. You can’t play around with this stuff.

  5. That dog’s laundry list of problems should have made her a candidate for euthanasia long ago, not for sending her into the home of any human. “Saving them all” is leading to the horrific and painful deaths of human beings instead of the reasonable, responsible and humane deaths of vicious and problematic dogs. People may wonder why she kept the dog even when it had bitten her husband. This is probably for the same reason she “rescued” it… she was more tenderhearted toward saving dogs than toward protecting the people in her life (including herself). And in the “rescue” mentality, you only get a dog if you’re going to give it a “FUREVER HOME,” right? You don’t admit it’s too much to handle, and you sure don’t get it humanely euthanized even if it bites people. That would take away all those heroic feelings that people seem to be seeking when they get these troubled dogs!

    The dog Caitlyn should have been put to sleep long before being passed on to become another family’s problem. Yet even in the previous owner’s advertisement for the dog, it tells how she is such a loving Velcro dog, and would be a great dog in the right home with the right people. What exactly does that mean? So is the victim to blame for not being the “right person” for this wonderful dog? Or is the original owner to blame for not doing the right thing when Caitlyn first bit someone? Or is the rescue who advertised her to blame for promoting a dangerous large animal?

    Looking at the rescue shows their mentality on this. “Save Rocky the Great Dane Rescue and Rehab” was named IN HONOR OF a Great Dane which was (in their words) “irresponsibly and needlessly” euthanized because it bit the owner’s boyfriend, despite every effort of the rescue warriors to save it after the owner surrendered it to an animal shelter to be put down. (Thank goodness the owner had the sense to do so, or Rocky might have become a killer Great Dane also!) Sometimes euthanasia is the ONLY responsible thing to do. If Caitlyn had been euthanized by her first owner as she should have been, Mary Matthews would still be alive. If Caitlyn had not been promoted by the rescue organization, Mary Matthews would still be alive. And if Mary Matthews had taken the dog to be euthanized the first time she bit someone in her household, she would still be alive.

    But because multiple levels of people thought it was kind to keep a vicious, sickly, troubled animal alive… Mary Matthews is dead.

    • You’re so right. This obsession with “saving them all” is out of control in this country. Dogs like Caitlyn the Great Dane should have absolutely been euthanized long ago.
      When did saving mutilated, deformed, sick, aggressive, and just screwed up dogs become the right thing to do? And the worse the issue, the more these “rescues” are lauded and made out to be saviors.

      “This is Fluffy Pants! He was kicked in the head by a draft horse at 8 weeks old. He was almost euthanized by his owner, but we stepped in and saved him! After $25k in surgery, he’s had half his brain removed, he’s blind, incontinent, and only walks in left hand circles, but he’s such a fighter! With the right loving home and a lifetime of medication and medical intervention, he’ll live a long life!”

      We all know that Fluffy Pants, Caitlyn, and all the screwed up animals like them should be humanely euthanized. Humans are so arrogant and cruel to keep these animals alive to suit some need to feel important or altruistic. Putting animals through multiple surgeries, medications, prosthetics, and whatever else, is wrong. I love my dogs, but if their quality of life is gone, how dare I keep them alive because I’M the one who can’t let go?
      The amount of money spent “rehabilitating” dogs that should have been humanely euthanized is staggering. Thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. Dollars that could help decent animals, or even better yet, hungry or sick children.
      Dogs like Caitlyn need to be culled for the sole reason that human lives come first. Our emotions should never come into the equation. Emotions muddy the water and make proper decision making harder.
      Anyone who has ever had to make the decision to euthanize a pet knows how painful it is. It’s not easy, but it’s sometimes a hard fact of pet ownership. And sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.
      (Sorry for the long winded post.)

      • My opinions of pet rescue and adoption places is surely not grand. They really are only focused on numbers and guilt you if you call them out. My family rescued a larger dog. Went to visit the dog, took our 9 year old dog and son with. Tried to do everything right. We got home and things seemed off. The dog destroyed a metal crate, would go crazy over water, and became increasingly aggressive. Out of fear I’d come home to my 9 yeast old dog dead or one of us attacked, we returned the dog to the rescue. They tried to guilt us to take her back, we didn’t try hard enough to make her family and a whole list of crap they said. I demanded my money back as they falsely gave us a dog that was nothing they said…. and turns out she was only at the rescue for 1 week before we got her. They wouldn’t refund because “she was so sweet”. With out explanation we were mailed a refund 3 weeks later. Rescuers are more caught up on numbers and money and the people that they are give dangerous animals to. Some animals really can not be placed in homes safely.

        • What? They didn’t give you a refund when you returned the dog?

          If I’m not mistaken, businesses are required to provide prompt refunds. Perhaps the laws are different where you are, I don’t know.

          If this organization has any sort of business licensing, you might want to let the licensing agency know what happened to you. This could lead to the revocation of the organization’s license.

  6. Amen! Such an honest look at a deceptive, self-serving practice of trying to save them all. And the astonishing cost in money and lives of such a mentality. Euthanizing a animal IS hard, and should be hard, but no sleep should ever be lost for an animal losing it’s life to keep another animal or human alive

  7. Agreed with the above posts. I also think some who “rescue” are suffering from Munchausen By Proxy (MbP) type mental illness. They NEED more suffering, sick, abused, tortured pets in order to give their lives purpose.

    When I suggested to one woman that we simply stop the breeding of THE best dogs for killing dogs and fatally mauling horses, a look of terror appeared on her face.
    It was the fear, “if I don’t have countless abused tortured pits to try to “rehabilitate” and “save” what would I do so my life has purpose?”

    Asking them to stop the breeding of fighting dogs is like asking MbP moms to stop poisoning their kids.

    • Good comparison to that mental illness! Notice that in conversations or in pictures posted online one of the first things some of these people say about their dog is that it’s “rescued.” As if they’re waiting for applause for their heroic deed. Compete virtue signaling at the expense of the dog’s happiness and everyone’s safety. What would they do without dogs which need saving? And I think that is why one usually sees deeply troubled people with these deeply troubled dogs. They can’t fix themselves, but they can “help” a dog and that makes them feel better about their own difficult lives. It’s a sad situation that puts everyone at risk when the dogs in question are dangerous, just so someone can feel good about themselves. It’s cruel to their families and neighbors, and it’s ultimately cruel to the animals they claim to love.

      • Because they’ve lost the plot.

        Having a dog is a *relationship* and these people are sold a bill of goods that if they take home Hannibal Lector, enough love will stop him from being a psychopathic cannibal.

        Yes, a pet can bring a great deal of joy into a troubled life. But it has to be a *stable* pet that’s brought home with the full knowledge of how to make a companion animal, relationship, workable.

        If they brought home a well bred poodle mix, a stable working dog or a dog that matches their needs, both might be the better for the relationship.

        I’ve seen some pretty messed up people do really well with a good dog. The difference was–the animal was temperamentally sound and generally given to them by someone with good judgement rather than a weeping cookie waver sobbing over “furbabies”.

        Does that sound harsh? Sure. But the bodies are piling up around us, here.

    • Excellent analogy. I think it’s one thing to care for a beloved pet if it has veterinary issues but to seek out special needs animals, especially when they have aggression issues speaks to a very neurotic need imo.

  8. While folks have been commenting on the less than great idea to save them all, I have a comment to make. Some dogs, when put on corticosteroids, become quite aggressive. This aggression could be only animal aggression, only human aggression, or both. The breed I have seen affected the worst by this is the Golden Retriever. I saw one vicious Golden Retriever on emergency that was highly obedience trained, shown, and titled in AKC obedience classes. This dog was clearly dangerous. So what was the solution? I instructed the owners to take him home, put him in a secure area, don’t give more corticosteroids, and wait until he returned to sanity.

    I consider it very important to remember this occasional side effect from corticosteroids. If a dog has to be kept on corticosteroids and reacts this adversely, euthanasia may be the only solution. Often, there are other choices; and saving a dog with an adverse drug reaction is quite reasonable.

    • Some dogs, when put on corticosteroids, become quite aggressive. This aggression could be only animal aggression, only human aggression, or both.–@Rachel

      Very good point to consider.. Rarely do I hear anyone bringing up the effect of medications or vaccines on the behaviour of some of these dangerous dogs… I always wonder if some of these vaccines given to the dogs are increasing their aggression?? Like the deal with Cocker Spaniels & explosive anger after getting certain shots.. Perhaps the Rabies shots or others may be affecting them badly?
      Then, I remember that many Pit owners aren’t taking them to the vet & they still bug out so, it’s more likely it’s simply hard-wired into their very blueprint and these maulings will happen whether or not any outside environmental events are in effect.. DNA is destiny.. Making the deeds inevitable for the breeds. Hugs & obedience training be damned.

  9. Wow, this just gets more and more bizarre. How many dogs did this lady have coming and going out of her home?

    I’m shocked that the attacking dog isn’t Caitlyn, which had the previous bite history. Hard to fathom having brought two different volatile Great Danes into a home. No wonder the husband wasn’t a fan of them.

  10. As other people have noted, there has been a change in mentality. I used to work at a public animal shelter. Unstable, unpredictable dogs were euthanized. And you can get unstable dogs of any breed. At that time we did not adopt out pits for that reason.

    In the 90’s I first met the “behaviorists” People who have more empathy for animals than people and it became a crime to euthanize animals like that black great dane.

    • I’m all in favor of being kind to animals. However, we live in human society. That’s why I think we must put the safety of humans first.

  11. Thank you, Colleen, for the update on this news item. Everyone is scratching their heads on this one, trying to figure out how this happened. Everyone except a select few, that is; those few who figured out how this could have possibly happened: There was a human being, and a dog in close proximity.

  12. I’ve been thinking about this case and it just occurred to me that Mary may not have called 911 for help not just because she may have been inebriated, but because she knew that once she was seen with such bad injuries, the dogs might be taken from her. Her insistence on keeping a violent dog which had bitten before shows that she had been willing before to put keeping the dog above protecting people. She may have been hoping that she could stanch the bloodflow, clean it up, and that no one would ever have to know. That just struck me as a possibility and if it is the case, I find it to be achingly sad that a person would value a dog more than herself.

  13. Wow, so with the updates, if what Caitlin’s owner says is true and her dog wasn’t fed for 6 days, then it is likely that murderous dog (Bo?) has also been neglected/abused in the home. The whole situation is messed put. All too often, the people least able/willing to properly take care of pets, are the same ones who want to “rescue” them all.

  14. From the description of the house I have to wonder if Mary had called for help instead of trying to treat herself that perhaps this story would have had a happier ending for her and her loved ones. She left blood trails all over the house, required multiple clothing changes and never called for help. This is heartbreaking on so many levels! We have owned several Great Danes and only one who I truly worried about biting. She never bit anyone but there was just something about her! I never allow my Great Danes to be out and about when my grandchildren are here or when we have guests though. Even with the great disposition our present one has she is a really big dog with big teeth and you just never know with any dog. The dog that concerned me was a harlequin Dane, a color very popular and I have often felt that the breeder was possibly more interested in getting the color and could have been breeding dogs that lacked the temperament that is desired in a Great Dane.

Leave a Reply

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