Maria Ruiz, 77-years old, died after being attacked by four pit bull-mixes in Phoenix.
Failed to Impound
UPDATE 07/14/21: Returning to the question of the role of animal control, Maricopa Animal Care & Control, the latest news report from KPNX addresses the two previous occasions MCACC responded to the home of Alejandro Hernandez. On July 6, four pit bull-mixes belonging to Hernandez escaped his property again and fatally mauled 77-year old Maria Ruiz while she sat on her porch. Hernandez has since been charged with one count of felony negligent homicide.
The most recent visit by MCACC was April 2021, after a neighbor reported that Hernandez' dogs were running down the street trying to bite people. MCACC captured the dogs and loaded them into a truck to impound them. But that never happened. Apparently, Hernandez' mother begged to have the dogs back and that all dogs were "safely returned to her." Despite the rarity of fatal dog attacks, we often see this behavior by animal control departments prior to a fatal dog attack.
"He was fully aware that his dogs were vicious and also that the security of the yard he kept them in was completely inadequate." - Prosecutor
First of all, why wasn't Hernandez' mother also criminally charged? Secondly, why didn't MCACC impound the dogs in April? The role of animal control being a type of "sympathetic social worker" to irresponsible dog owners -- in this case the owner had four pit bull-mixes with a history of aggression and escaping a property with "completely inadequate" security -- played a distinct role in Ruiz' death. Ruiz' family members are now questioning this dereliction of duty by MCACC.
Instead of impounding the "pack of dogs" in April, MCACC released the dogs to his mother with full knowledge that the owner (and his mother) had "completely inadequate" fencing on their property. A proactive, public safety response would have been for MCACC to impound the dogs, cite the owner for all relevant violations, charge the owner impound fees, and not release the "pack of dogs" back to the owner until the "completely inadequate" security problem had been resolved.
We emphasize "pack of dogs," because for thousands of years mankind has known of the dangerousness of "pack mentality" in canines, even the "Dummies" book series addresses this aggression issue. Returning a single dog with known vicious propensities back to a property with "completely inadequate" security is bad enough. Returning a pack of four powerful dogs with a history of escaping and aggression to this same inadequate condition is reckless and negligent.
07/07/21: Owner Charged with Felony
Phoenix, AZ - A 77-year old woman is dead after being attacked by four dogs, police said. Police were dispatched to the area of South 6th Street and Broadway Road just after 7:00 am for reports of a woman being attacked by dogs. When first responders arrived at the scene, they found Maria Elisa Sebastian Ruiz in critical condition. She was transported to a local hospital, where she later died of her injuries. Ruiz was on her own front porch when the dogs attacked her, police said.
Phoenix police said the dogs were not "provoked" before the attack.
The dogs were described at "Staffordshire terrier-mixes," which is another euphemism for pit bull-mixes. It's unclear if this description came from the owner, Alejandro Hernandez, 33, or Maricopa County Animal Care & Control. The MCACC adoption page shows plenty of dogs labeled pit bull-mixes. Hernandez is being charged with one count of negligent homicide. Police said Hernandez told them his dogs had escaped multiple times in the past, and that they had bitten neighbors.
MCACC had also warned Hernandez in the past about his dogs escaping. He was instructed on at least one occasion to fix a gate to secure his dogs and was also issued multiple license warnings. Negligent homicide is a Class 4 felony in Arizona. The first offense carries a 1 year minimum prison sentence and a maximum 3.75 year sentence, according to an Arizona criminal defense attorney's website. The dogs were taken into custody by MCACC; one is being tested for rabies.
Family members want the dog owner held responsible. The victim, known as Elisa Sebastian, was sitting on her porch when the four dogs mauled her. Elisa, who was named after her grandmother, would not show her face on camera. She said when they tried to confront Hernandez about getting his dogs under control, he became hostile and threatening. "One of my uncles would tell him that his dogs were loose and everything, and all he wanted to do is fight and take out guns," she said.
"I just want the guy to pay for what he did to my grandma," Elisa said. "If the dogs were tied up or anything, this would not have happened. She would still be living. She would still be out here." MCACC was first called to his home in February 2020 after five of his dogs were loose -- he was issued seven license warnings at that time. In April 2021, MCACC was called out again when two of his dogs were loose. Hernandez was told at least once to fix a gate to keep his dogs secure.
A number of dog owners have been charged with negligent homicide after their dogs killed a person. In some states, however, negligent homicide is a misdemeanor. Arizona statute § 13-1208. Assault; vicious animals; classification, would also apply to this recent fatality (Section B), but that is only a Class 5 felony. We are thrilled that police and prosecutors went with the higher charge. If convicted, perhaps Hernandez will also have to pay restitution to the victim's family.
01/15/21: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: 9-Year Old Boy Killed by Two Pit Bulls in Arkansas
03/09/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Woman Killed by Neighbor's Pack of Dogs in Texas
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.
Antisocial people choose dangerous predator canines as pets because they know that the predatory canine will most likely maul other people, not themselves. Sadly, most often, they are correct. The fact that predatory canines are selected as pets because they mostly attack other people, is what makes them evil, in addition to dangerous.
I’ll be honest, I’m pretty inroverted, and anti social, and I own cats, a tiny mix puppy, and a weener dog lmao. I wouldn’t own a pit bull. Even if some of them are decent, it is NOT worth the risk whatsoever. If a kid, or older lady like this ever got injured, I’d never forgive myself
RIP, Elisa Ruiz. Condolences to the family. So sad this lady died so painfully and it could have been prevented if the laws concerning negligent dog owner as high risk dogs like pit bulls were more strict.
It’s good the dog owner was charged with a higher degree federal charge, but this won’t bring the victim back, so we still need more preventative laws.
So Mr. Hernandez told police that his dogs had escaped multiple times and had bitten neighbors. Yet, somehow, he still owns the dogs??? Doesn’t anyone else see the problem here?
Same thing happens down here in Tucson. Right now, I’m dealing with a situation where a neighbor’s pit bulls have escaped repeatedly.
In two instances, these dogs have attacked people who were just walking along, minding their own business.
After one of these attacks, animal “care” took the dogs away. And three weeks later, the owners got the dogs back.
We neighbors see the problem, all right. It’s getting officialdom to actually DO something to solve it.
I feel your frustration here, Quiet, I do. It’s playing out here in Ontario, right now.
I’ve been seeing more pitbulls here lately, with stupid owners. Seriously stupid owners. Because their dogs can be removed for the offence of not wearing a muzzle in public if over 7mos old and if apprehended, cannot be rehomed–in other words they’re so stupid the dog will be euthanized if taken into custody for breaching the muzzle law. Yet they persist in running their untrained dogs face-first into everyone else’s dog on the sidewalk and claiming, “it’s friendly” ( I have a really rude response to this) and risking an insta-kill of their own dog…even if they don’t give a snarf about anyone else.
And we’re not talking about young street kids, here–we’re talking about well-heeled individuals who are doctors/lawyers and people who *should* have enough sense to be able to read a statistics chart.
Another senior citizen might be alive today if authorities took their responsibility towards the public, seriously. But no, they act like it’s a court of law where *dogs* are entitled to a legal defence instead of whether or not an *owner* can control their own *property*.
Let’s see how fast authorities show up if your toddler runs down the street then murders another toddler with a brick to the head and see if your toddler gets “a day in court”…more likely they’ll be out the door with the authorities before you can ask, “where’s Waldo?” and you’ll be charged.
But somehow, pibbles are owed chances to engage in public dangerousness for some reason I can’t possibly fathom.
Wait a minute. Doesn’t Ontario have BSL?
If it does, then that BSL could really use some enforcement.
Yes, we do, Quiet.
Big brouhaha on Reddit/Facebook right now because someone let their pitbull loose in a dog park and it murdered a cockerpood. People there got photos of the owner and the dog.
So I suspect there will be a backlash for the next couple of months if it hits the news. Let’s see if the muzzle sales go up along with enforcement.
There shouldn’t be any pitbulls *left* after all these years since it’s illegal to breed, buy, sell or adopt them here.
And for all the pitbull advocates that say “BSL doesn’t work” we only had two deaths-by-dog this year and *both* were illegal pitbulls according to what I read–even though the adoption/buying of dogs during COVID increased the dog population, dramatically.
My, oh my, do I have to edit the FB comment from above. My edits will be in () with sarcasm font:
FREE ALEJANDRO AND (victim’s family) SUE ANIMAL CONTROL (not Alejandro because is not his fault)! my heart is broken for everyone involved. Alejandro is a good (33-year-old) kid and comes (came, not comes) from a good home (I have no idea what went wrong). If animal control would not take the dogs after SEVEN citations (even though these happened all at one time due to his negligence), then who was Alejandro supposed to give them up to? (Certainly, he couldn’t take the pibbles to the vet to be put down!) It’s not easy to just get rid of Pitt bulls (well, it is with a bullet).
My heart weighs heavy for Maria and her family mourning 😭 this whole situation is so sad 😭
i thought animal control was supposed to confiscate/seize problem animals and euthanize them-them claiming to be at capacity is no reason not to take problemtaic to the public dogs for euthanization-im not understanding how they can refuse to control animals threatening the public -also once a dog has created an issue with the public (neighbors) then the owner should lose rights to the dog – and there probably isnt a law preventing animal control from doing just that-im thinking the authorities and staff in animal control departments just refuse to do anything to protect ppl or control animals once they leave their owners property-but seems like that is EXACTLY what they re supposed to do
when and whydid euthanization of agressive dogs become such a taboo? that whole way of thinking is a big part of the problem in this country
The reason they don’t have any room is because they’re trying to adopt out miserable pitbulls who have been living in their shelter for the past two years–that nobody wants, eating up resources and cage space while being flooded with more unadoptable pitbulls every day.
While other breeds of dogs and mutts have become as rare as hen’s teeth, there’s an overwhelming number of pitbulls. It’s time to admit that their spay and neuter outreach is *not working* because in a decade, the number of pitbulls should have been reduced dramatically, and hasn’t even made a dent in the pitbulls population.
If pitbull lovers loved pitbulls they’d clear out this generation of those who are even remotely aggressive and spay/neuter the rest.
They’d rather see them bred indiscriminately and caged for life than do the humane thing and gently euthanize them. It’s a far better death than many carting dogs got when they were no longer societally useful.
***correction. The pitbull attacked the cockapood outside the cemetery gates of Mount Pleasant.
i know right? i KNOW they dont keep cats for 2 years-the cats are probably euthanized within 3-4 months if not adopted
I agree. I have seen healthy cats euthanized for space after being there for only a few days whereas that breed of dog sits there for two years, and more pouring in the door each day. Sad.
As always, the owners of these mutants just have to have a whole pack of them. Not that only having one would have prevented the death, but still why must people keep multiple uncontrollable fighting breeds in one home? That’s so unfair to the neighbors to have to live around someone with a pack of killers. If the gov won’t ban pits, at least limit people to only one that must be muzzled when outdoors. Rest in peace to Maria Ruiz.
A 5 weeks old baby was killed by the registered, family dog in the early hours of today 11th July 2021, AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time) zero prizes for guessing the breed… an American Staffordshire terrier otherwise known as a pitbull! Pits are BANNED in Australia… so ‘they’ changed the breed name to AmStaff… I would have liked to message Colleen personally but I am shockingly computer illiterate, sorry I struggle to send an email… I am still enraged by the stupidity of the owners (baby’s parents) the same dog had “mauled” another neighbours dog 4 weeks previously but I’m not 100% sure if that dog was killed… we also have a dog worshipping cult in Australia so I’m betting, nothing else will be mentioned about this horrific attack again…
You can email her at [email protected]. She’ll see it there. I am certain she checks the message boards as well, but you might do better just to email her a link to the story.
Thankyou Bob, much appreciated…
Ah yes the banning. Pitbulls are banned here, too. Along with any dog that “resembles” a pitbull. Smart wording if you ask me–puts pad to that “it’s a lab” nonsense.
Meanwhile I can’t tell you how many supposed “American Bulldogs” marching around that look amazingly similar to good ol’ ubiquitous pitbulls. Including blatantly obvious blue-nosers. Owners can lie all they like–fact is, if it’s not publicly muzzled, it can still be apprehended by animal control.
The level of stupid with these people is astonishing.
Isn’t an American Bulldog just a big pit bull?
Lack thereof…. Why? Why? Why? Because local law enforcement and local prosecutors and local courts are frantically struggling for their political survival. Loose dog offenders have many, many, more votes than their victims. Local law enforcement, local prosecutors and local courts are manifestly obviously forcibly in favor of loose dog offenders, and obviously physically against any and all possible future victims of the loose dog threat that they (the local authorities) physically enable. That is why local animal control almost never issues citations for loose dog violations. This is why local animal control almost always repeatedly returns dangerous predatory canines to their criminal owners. That is why the police never write reports to push for the courts to remove dangerous repeat at large predator canines. That is why victims of life destroying predator canines almost never see justice in local courts. All of the local legal authorities worship and serve the Almighty Dog, because that is required for their political survival.
Colleen, you need to get this comment into the form of a story pitch to the Phoenix media. Please. Do it. They need to hear about this.