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27 thoughts on “2020 Dog Bite Fatality: 'Mastiff' with History of Aggression Killed Portland Owner in April; No News Release from Police

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  1. This is the second dog death to go unreported for a period this year.

    It’s really concerning that dog deaths are not being reported. Isn’t it legally required?

    Is this because of the pandemic, or some other reason?

    I wonder if there are more dog fatalities out there, still unreported. I really hope not.

    • I think it’s because of the Cult of Dog. They’ve infiltrated animal control agencies and much of the news media.

      These cultists don’t dare say anything negative about the Almighty doGs. And we’re living — and dying — with the results.

      • I disagree that that is the cause of the silence from PDs in the cases Soph is referring to.

        There may be some kind of omerta. Or it may be just laziness? preoccupation with other duties during a very weird event?

        But if it were omerta due to Cult of Dog, why now? and why not all over in much larger numbers?

        Unless and until someone comes up with pretty convincing evidence that there is some widespread non-reporting from PDs on DB fatalities going back for years, then I’m not going to assume that lack of evidence constitutes evidence. Only evidence is evidence.

        • Dogs are heavily used in police work. Do a search on this site’s coverage of the Geiger case.

          Cop with an IED of a K-9 that attacked and killed a man who was trying to defend a lady who also was being attacked. And the cop was acquitted on all counts.

          • What the heck does that have to do with “Cult of Dog” being the cause for unreported deaths, esp. in conjunction with this case of Shew & Thor?

  2. It’s hard to imagine the sort of broken mentality which would have the owner of a dog tell his friends “don’t call 911” while the dog is KILLING HIM. How do people get to this state of denial in trying to hide the truth… that the dog is too much for them to handle, that love didn’t tame the beast, that their judgment must have been wrong in choosing such an animal?

    It’s also hard to imagine that a 100 pound man in his late sixties could ever think it is wise to purchase a dog which will soon outweight him by more than half again. I was a very hale, physically strong young woman weighing about 190 pounds in my late teens working as a caretaker for eight German Shepherds and four Akitas, and there is NO way I could have fended any of them off if even one had decided to attack me. I could easily sense their power and the physical advantages they had over me despite them weighing less than I did. So to picture an elderly man who is outweighed by 60 pounds trying to get free of this dog Thor… it must have been horrific.

    I’m thankful the daughter had the sense to let them destroy this dog. It was too late for her father of course, but could save someone else.

    • Ability to control one’s dog, esp. when it’s a large, powerful breed, is not, strangely enough, a required qualification for adopting a dog or getting a puppy from a breeder that will grow into such a dog.

      Thus, the only real restraining factor on people getting way more dog than they can handle is the owner’s realism and sense of responsibility. Unfortunately, the dog world is thick with lion tamers. Too many owners are just not realistic about how much dog they can control.

      When I adopted my GSD mix, I specifically adopted *down* on the size scale and got a 48-pounder instead of a full-size, purebred German Shepherd. I love German Shepherds. Always have, always will. I just can’t take the risk of getting a purebred that’s too big and too strong for me.

      Even with an incredibly well-disciplined dog, which GSDs can be, there will always be a risk of those black swan events. Rather than set myself, my dog or someone else or their dog or cat up for potential tragedy, it seemed more sensible to me to get a real mid-size model. I can love a 48-lb shep mix just as much as I can love an 84-lb purebred.

      BTW The roommates were in serious danger with that dog as well. If there was going to be a fatality, the least worst outcome is what happened — the owner killed by his own dog.

      • I wondered at the choice of getting this dog… At the time, he was 68 years old and he picked a puppy with the expected potential to weigh more than him as it matured. He also decided not to get the dog neutered. Since my mid-30s, anytime I have thought about getting a dog, my mind always goes to size and leash pull, especially of a teenage dog. Due to some of my own joint problems and having met numerous people who got significant injuries from leash pulls (shoulder injuries, pulled to the ground and landing on the knees or outstretched hands, tweaks to the hips, knees, low back) and from a dog jumping on them or running into them (again, landing on the knees / outstretched hands, significant knee injuries of ligaments and menisci, hip injuries), I know I would never get a dog that could cause such an injury. My thoughts are that this man had some degree of mild cognitive impairment or pre-dementia at the time of purchase. I would like to be surprised that a breeder would consider selling a pup like this is a senior citizen who has roommates (rents?) but I know better.

      • Some GSD females don’t weigh much over 48 pounds. The advantage of getting a purebred dog from a reputable breeder is that size and temperament are more predictable. Getting a mixed breed puppy, unless you know the actual cross, leaves you with a puppy that could get much bigger or display temperament issues of that breed.

        The shelters are full of pit bulls and pit bull mixes. What is the temperament like in a German Shepherd x pit bull? I don’t know, but I suspect some of the animal aggression would appear.

        • Purebred GSDs are not that common in shelters; petite female purebred GSDs are rare.

          My dog is a German Shepherd – tri-color Border Collie mix. Fantastic temperament and intelligence. He was 2 yrs old when I adopted him.

          Believe me I steered clear of anything with a boxy face regardless of what the label said (because shelters lie).

          No pits, no puppies were my #1 and #2 rules during my search. No puppies because I was not equipped to raise one, and also because you can inadvertently end up with a pit mix that way.

  3. People force dangerous canines on themselves. From there the problem radiates to anybody in the vicinity who becomes at risk of the threat. In this case, the problem manifested itself at the starting point. Good thing the problem didn’t spread to other people. There are two things that people are thinking: first: It’s so exciting to own a dangerous canine. Second: I know that I don’t want my dog to hurt anybody, so therefore, it won’t, because it will obey my thoughts. After all, it is my dog, and therefore we share the same brain.
    The last thing that happens right before death: the blanket of denial is violently stripped away. Next, it is officially reported as a tragic accident of unknown cause. What really happened: A dangerous canine did what it was bred to do. Number of reported deaths, and number of reported severe maulings: I would say that is about one fifth of the actual number of deaths and severe maulings. Take the official number of these cases, multiply by 10 and then divide by two. That should give a number that is much closer to actual reality. The problem is that local powers do not want the real numbers to be known to the public. Local powers do not want the public to be aware of just how much risk really exists.

  4. Soooo…

    The owner can’t walk the dog. (Thus frustrated, bored and under-exercised huge dog locked in a confined area forever) and refuses to learn HOW to manage the dog.

    He paid thousands of dollars for the dog but refused to pay a few hundred dollars to learn how to use the tools needed to train a dog that’s stronger than he, is.

    The dog eats him. I don’t even know where to begin with that.

    In an odd sort of way I kind of “get” the idiot pitbull owners. Pitbulls are cheap and readily available at shelters. Many don’t have the few hundred extra dollars to pay to learn to train them. It’s no excuse but in a weird way, it’s understandable. They buy into the nanny dog hype.

    But this?

    * shakes head *

    • Pibbles are as common as dirt. Even the extremely expensive pibbles are still pibbles. Some people want a more exotic killer dog. This gentleman was willing to pay $3,400 for the experience. Whelp, the dog killed him, all right.

      Buying a $20 admission ticket at the zoo and jumping into the lions’ den would have been cheaper.

      • ‘Tiger King’ sensitized a lot of people to the whole exotic big cat ownership and breeding culture. I know I’m not the only one who sees parallels with the muscle dog/killer dog community.

        • There are direct, obvious links between the attraction to owning exotics and the attraction to owning dangerous dog breeds. Tia Torres of Pit Bulls and Parolees was originally into wolf hybrids, and I suspect the same is true of other pit bull advocates.

        • Oddly Packhorse, I thought the same thing as I watched “Tiger King” too.

          The mentality of some of them reminded me of people who owned pitbulls and refused to see that they aren’t pets–but animals with a genetic code that human programmed to be as dangerous as possible and that’s not fixable.

          After all, not all lions eat people, either–but enough of them do that we don’t allow them to live in civilized areas.

  5. To the issue of why dog attacks go unreported, I think a large part of this is the long history of what can only be described as the “normalization” of dog violence. As the old press bromide goes, “Dog Bites Man” is not a news story. The acceptance of the inevitability that dogs will attack and bite other living creatures goes hand in hand with the rationalization of dog attacks as “provoked” — as though we should all embrace our status as mere objects in the dog’s world. Objects who should watch our step with our betters if we know what’s good for us. Explanations for aggression like self-defense, territoriality, resource guarding, or “the dog wasn’t raised right” tend to obscure the larger issue of human beings welcoming powerful, unpredictable animals into their lives in a trade of companionship for risk. That can only be accomplished with a bit of self-deception, no matter how sweet and lovable the dog appears to be.

    Recent horrific, unreported cases like this one, and the killing of 2-year-old Brice Sanders in Stockton, California, threaten the fiction that “man’s best friend” comes with no significant cost. Certainly, that’s the last thing animal shelters with tons of dogs to unload onto the unwary public want to see publicly challenged.

    • It’s one thing for dog BITES to go unreported to the authorities.

      It’s quite another for dog-bite DEATHS of humans to go unreported by the authorities to the public.

      My impression is that the first category is pretty common.

      My impression is that the second category is not. That we have seen two just this calendar year is … very unsettling. Whether a pattern is establishing itself is too early to tell based on just two data points. I certainly hope this is not the case.

      • There have been more than two this year. We won’t know exactly how many are unaccounted for until CDC Wonder releases 2020 data.

        Unreported/late reported deaths March 26, 2020 to June 3, 2020

        Roger Kirk, AR – Zero, no police news release
        Frederick Shew, OR – Zero at the time, no police news release
        Roxie Parker, LA – Zero, no police news release
        Brice Sanders, CA – Zero at the time, no police news release
        Sharon Baldwin, TX – Coroner office data release, no police news release
        Katie Amos, IL – Coroner office data release, no police news release

        In March, we placed an announcement on the 2020 page.

        “In mid March, most of the nation went on lockdown due to the coronavirus, which has become a singular local and national news media focus. We expect media reports of dog bite fatalities for the remainder of 2020 to drop by at least 75%. The only reliable way to obtain 2020 dog bite fatality data is to wait for CDC Wonder Database data, which will not be available until 2022. CDC data will only contain the number of individuals killed by dogs during 2020.”
        https://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2020.php

        • Thanks for the info.

          What constitutes a “report” or “reporting” these days? Police and coroner are one level. News media another. Do you consider your site a reportage site? Would social media be considered reportage?

          I’m not trying to argue, just to figure out how we are defining and quantifying reportage or lack thereof. Fred Shew’s death was reported on oregonlive.com yesterday (June 15th). Yup, extremely late, since the attack & death happened back in mid-April. But this is still a reported death, if a new media outlet is counted as a reporting entity.

          What I’m trying to determine is whether the number of these deaths whose accounts are emerging from sources other than police & coroners is something unique to 2020, or whether any previous years had similar phenomena.

          • Much of this is in review right now, as we are being forced to consider whether or not we should continue tracking dog bite fatalities. At the end of 2019, we collected 15 years of generally uninterrupted dog bite fatalities. We knew in December that 2020 was going to be a difficult year, and that 2019 could be our last year of collecting this data, but that is because of the contentious upcoming election (which you can see in 2008 and 2016 dog bite fatality trends here, that dip when the administration changes) and ongoing media trends. We never imagined coronavirus on top of this. But here it is. We will not know CDC database results until at least 2022 either.

            The levels we have defined:

            Police level –
            Police issue a news release to local media. This is standard practice.

            Coroner level –
            Some coroners have public databases. That is how a reporter first caught wind of the Fort Worth death. It’s just cause and manner of death, the patient’s name, along with the important coroner case number. Thus, a reporter or our nonprofit can then FOIA police for the incident report. Not all incident reports are granted, but they are most often granted to news media. All of this work is required because police did not issue a news release to local media.

            Late reported media level –
            The Stockton death would not have been reported by The Record had we not shared our information with them. Reporter was a little ruffled by the whole thing since he has developed longstanding relationships with police, etc. However, that was also a night of chaos in the city. It’s unknown how The Oregonian got her tip — but it likely did not come from police or coroner. She had to request the animal shelter records just like we did.

            No reported media level –
            The Roxie death and Arkansas death were not reported anywhere except social media. In fact, the Arkansas county sheriff ignored our FOIA request. Roxie’s case was a bit exceptional because the obituary said she died due to a dog mauling (rare), providing fairly “absolute” confirmation. There will never be police, coroner or media confirmation in Arkansas case. We have a FOIA out in Roxie’s case, but it is on hold until July (autopsy results can take a long time).

            DogsBite.org level –
            The goal of our level of reporting is to have confirmation of death from #1 police or coroner #2 media, which nearly always contains both parts of #1. Local media have far greater contact (and relationships with) local police than we do. This is why we always provide our information to them first, as a first step. If that fails, like in the Arkansas death, we confirm the case through a family member.

            This year, there are 9 outstanding deaths of 23 (cases we have reported on, but information was so thin and poor, or lacking breed info, we have to pursue via FOIA). That is nearly 40% of all cases. I’ve never seen it this bad before. The normal rate is 10%, so it is 4 times higher this year. There are 5 cases this year where police released some information, but not breed of dog involved. There is no reason for it either. In every one of these cases, the dogs were quarantined.

            This year, there seems to be a failure of police to release information like I have never seen before. This is combined with the fact that newsrooms across the country are down by 50% and even 75%. Many have shut down entirely too. The shrinking media has greatly been increasing over the last several years. With the coronavirus on top of that, the situation only worsens. There is not one single source to point to. It’s a combination of factors.

  6. We submitted a records request today to obtain the animal bite report and any records pertaining to the dog’s registry/pedigree, “papers”, along with person or entity that sold him the dog. Given the steep price point, the dog could also be a “designer” American bully mutt. Depending upon the designer mixture, some of these dogs take on strong mastiff characteristics. We’re less concerned about what the mixture actually is — more concerned about what Shew thought he was purchasing.

  7. I’m surprised, but not surprised at the same time. Since April was when things were still pretty crazy and 99.99% if the news was just VIRUS 24/7, I’m not too shocked that this wasn’t talked about when it happened. But my gosh, it’s now the 3rd week of June. It’s terrifying that this news wasn’t released by the end of April at least.

    Everything about this is horrifying. 70 year old with a huge brutish dog that showed aggression, that he didn’t want to train and didn’t want 911 called when it mauled him. It’s insane. I can’t imagine why anyone would act like that with a mastiff of all things. I’m curious to know more about what led this man to do that. I am glad that the daughter had the dog put down.

  8. 4 months is a little unusual as a puppy adoption/purchase age. They typically are sold around 8 weeks (2 months). Generally, if a breed is in enough demand that the breeder can charge $3500, the puppies sell out quickly. Many breeders pre-sell puppies, so a litter is completely sold out before they’re even born. I wonder what wrinkle was involved here.

    And I wonder what flavor of mastiff this is. I’d be very surprised if it’s the English Mastiff, the AKC breed with by far the best safety record of the mastiff breeds.

    Breeding and sale of known dangerous breeds needs to be regulated because of things like this man bleeding to death while pleading with a friend not to betray his pet to authorities. People and dogs are natural companions, we created them to bond easily with us and us with them. It should be criminal to sell people animals which they will naturally love but which will also pose a serious threat to life.

  9. We did get the FOIA on this case. There was no other information about the dog that was not already included in the media article, except that Miller called it a “King Mastiff.” It’s unclear if “King” was a kennel name, but it could be. Paying $3,500 for this dog means Shew was likely under a contract NOT to neuter this dog.

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