Frederick Shew, 70-years old, was violently killed by his mastiff on April 11 in Portland.
Mastiff Kills Owner
Portland, OR - On June 15, it was reported for the first time that a 70-year old man was brutally killed by his mastiff in April. On the night of April 11, police were called to the Southeast Portland home of Frederick Shew, where he lived with two housemates. One of Shew's housemates, Kenneth Miller, told The Oregonian that after he went to bed, he heard a loud thump outside his door. He then found the massive dog latched onto Shew's neck and shaking it "like a ragdoll."
The burly beast was an intact 2.5 year old male mastiff, named "Thor." Miller estimated the dog weighed 160 pounds and that Shew weighed less than 100 pounds. Miller was able to wrestle the large dog away from Shew and put the animal in his room. Miller called for his housemates to wake up and bring towels to try to stop the bleeding. One housemate called 9-1-1. "I was beating the dog off him" and trying to help save Fred," Miller told The Oregonian. "I was just too late."
"He was sitting there and blood was shooting out of his neck ... He bled out right in front of me. His last words were 'Don't call 9-1-1.'" - Kenneth Miller
Miller speculated that Shaw did not want 9-1-1 called because Miller did not want his dog taken away. Shew had purchased the mastiff for $3,500 as a 4-month old puppy two years earlier. Yet, the dog had become dangerous, according to Miller. A month before Thor killed Shew, Thor "about took my nose off my face," Miller said. Before that incident, Thor "bit me through my hand," he said. Those two biting incidents were not reported to authorities until the day after Shew died.
Yet, Miller complained that Shew refused to neuter the dog or to enroll him in obedient classes. "He couldn't even walk the damn thing, he was just too strong," Miller said. It's unclear how a housemate (who designates Shew as a "family member" on Facebook) could bear living with such a brutish dog, which could conceivably be classified as a bullmastiff or South African boerboel, as well as, a mastiff. When medical responders arrived at the home, they pronounced Shew dead.
Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) did not arrive to seize the dog until the next day (apparently, there is no night duty officer at the department). While Miller and his roommate were attempting to lift the dog into the MCAS truck, the dog slipped away. They eventually recaptured it and hoisted the massive dog onto the truck. Shew's daughter gave county officials permission to euthanize the dog. And that was the end of "Thor," the mastiff, bullmastiff or boerboel beast.
MILLER stated on April 11, 2020 around 2200hrs, he and his girlfriend went to bed. MILLER stated he heard a "thump outside my door and the dogs right there shaking his [SHEW] neck like a ragdoll". MILLER stated "all I could see was blood shooting out of his neck". MILLER stated he was able to get the dog off of SHEW by twisting the collar enough to choke the dog. MILLER then secured the dog in his bedroom. MILLER said "All Fred's doin' is sittin' there bleedin' to death. And I'm trying to [yell to others] "get some towels! Wake up! Get some towels! "I'm trying to stop it, but it just didn't, it didn't work that way". MILLER stated SHEW was still speaking at this point, but was bleeding heavily. SHEW died at the scene and was confirmed later by medics … MILLER also stated that "Thor" bit him about a month ago, resulting in a significant injury to his nose, and then also bit him on the hand a few months ago. None of this was reported. - Incident Report, Multnomah County Animal Services, April 12, 2020
It is devastating what Frederick Shew suffered in his final moments. It is devastating what Miller and the other housemates witnessed and now have to live with for the rest of their lives. It is alarming that the Portland Police Department did not issue a press release after this extremely violent attack. It is alarming that Miller and The Oregonian hint that a mere neutering job would have solved this dog's escalating aggression, which resulted in "Thor" executing the killing bite.
In the Incident Report, Miller calls this dog "King Mastiff." It is unclear if "King" is a kennel name. If you know the breeder or seller of this dog, please leave this information in comments or send us email at any of the addresses on our Contact Us page. Your identity will remain confidential.
06/02/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Two Family Neapolitan Mastiffs Kill 11-Year Old Girl in Georgia
04/17/18: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: South African Boerboel Breeder Killed by One of Her Dogs
05/05/09: Alexandra Semyonova: Heritability of Behavior in the Abnormally Aggressive Dog
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.
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?
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.
Once he’s lost that much blood his brain was no longer capable of rational thought. He was in shock and wouldn’t be aware of his eminent death. Dying in real life from this kind of trauma isn’t like a movie death where they know that they are dying and give a deathbed recitation! Adrenaline kicks in dulling the pain and the brain just is no longer functioning and he probably was unaware of the severity of the injury so there’s that to be thankful for. I think most people underestimate the power and dangerousness of a dog like this and there are far too many websites extolling the virtues of these “gentle giant’s that don’t need much exercise”. So an ignorant old man ends up with this giant bear of a dog who kills him. I blame whoever sold it to him, his own family for not stepping up after the 2nd vicious attack and of course all the ignorant people who know nothing about these dogs yet write garbage to make a profit. Kind of like the pit bull nutter who says well my dog hasn’t killed anyone so I’m an expert on pitbull behavior!
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.
The type of dog for people with more money than brains.
See my comment. I think the guy had pre-dementia which contributed to poor executive function.
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.
* 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.
Wolf hybrids and pit bulls actually do not have that much in common. They definitely show you what’s on their minds, especially when it’s killing someone’s baby farm animals. I’m sure they all have different temperament depending on the percentage of what type of dog and then the animal itself. I owned one not by design but from being in Alaska in the 70’s and having an unintended litter. I worked hard to socialize him, he was spayed long before puberty. Once we moved from Alaska to Montana keeping him in a pen and other animals safe became harder. Yet he let kittens crawl on him, never growled at cats but killed the neighbors little dog which they refused to keep out of our yard and away from his cage. He’d also killed a lot of chickens but he never attacked a horse, because wolves aren’t insane and they don’t take on big animals alone. While he’d have loved to have a baby calf or goat, he never got to them because he was easy to read when his prey drive kicked in and I was able to control him despite being a teenage girl who weighed less than a hundred pounds. But I wasn’t old or weak because I had to buck hay bales in the summer and feed animals all winter so I was not an old man! And he was far from a pit bull. I don’t think owning wolf hybrids is a good thing all of the litter mates we’re euthanized by the vet at birth because they were wolf hybrids and my parents wouldn’t have them going to people. He wasn’t killed because the vet didn’t think he looked like he had wolf. He was wrong and of course killing a teenage girls dog wasn’t something my dad could do. So we controlled his environment..he never bite a human though even a trespassers. He stood on his chest and growled at him until we got home but he never attacked anyone. Of course after that he went into a cage unless I had him on a leash or in the house. But people should not breed wolves and dogs it’s cruel and stupid and it was made illegal in Alaska to own them. Which I fully support wolves are wild animals not pets! I loved him but I wouldn’t ever have purposely breed him or support anyone who does! I prefer cocker spaniels and border collies!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s all very sad. But I do hope you don’t stop reporting on the deaths that you are able to find at least because I don’t believe anyone else is and without information like yours more people will become victims! At least some people still research the dog breeds before they get them and their are evil careless people out I the internet saying things like “pit bulls make great service dogs for children with autism” ! Even Purina pet foods tool to match you to your perfect dog tell parents that pit bulls make great family dogs with young children (whose parents want their faces ripped off) because they have good life insurance policies on the kids I guess. So please don’t stop reporting because it’s more difficult. As local newspapers go under you’re website may well be the only place to ever find any news about this!