A mother is dead and two others were injured after a family pit bull rampage attack.
Pit Bull Kills Mother
Bowler, WI - On December 9, a GoFundMe was started for a woman by her sister. The original text stated in part: "My sister was not so lucky this dog mauled her arms. She lost so much blood on the way to the hospital her heart stopped. She was in surgery over 6 hours and they had to amputate her left arm and are hoping the right will heal." The next day, the fund posted an update, "Unfortunately they were not able to save her right arm and had to take it above the elbow."
Today, multiple news outlets are reporting this multi-victim attack. 35-year old Heather Pingel, a stay-at-home mother of two, was rushed by paramedics to Aspirus Wausau Hospital following the December 8 rampage attack at the family's home in Bowler. Her injuries were extensive, including suffering two arm amputations. She died about noon on December 16. Her son, Damion Bernarde, received about 70 stitches to his leg following the attack, but is back home from the hospital.
The Wausau Daily Herald spoke to Heather's sister, Shannon Pingel. “She is the bravest, strongest mother I know to do that for her child; she risked her life to save him," she said. "She is a hero." At the time of the attack, only Heather and Damion were at the home with the dog. Her 5-year old daughter was at school and the children's father, Shane Bernarde, was at his brother's home. When Shane returned that afternoon, he found the dog attacking Heather in the bathroom.
When Shane returned home that afternoon, he said Heather was in the bathroom with the door closed and she told him that Damion had fallen down the steps and she didn't know where he was, according to a police report from the Shawano County Sheriff's Office. After he located the boy in the living room, Shane returned to the bathroom and found the family's pit bull attacking Heather.
“We don't know how long she was in there fighting him off," Shannon said. "Shane got home to find her lying on the bathroom floor. She said, ‘I have no arms and I'm dying.'" - Wausau Daily Herald, December 17, 2021
Shane told police he grabbed the dog, dragged it outside then shot and killed it. Shane was bitten by the dog as well. When officers arrived at the scene just before 3:00 pm, they found Heather on the bathroom floor barely able to breath. Damion was sitting in a chair in the living room with a severe injury to his leg. The dog was dead. Heather, Damion and Shane were all transported to a hospital for treatment. A single family pit bull rampage attack resulted in three human victims.
Last year, there were three family pit bull rampage attacks that resulted in death. The death of 86-year old Coco in Florida, involved a pair of family pit bulls attacking three family members, requiring three ambulances. The death of 1-year old Scarlett Pereira involved a single family pit bull attacking the baby and two adults who tried to intervene. The death of 25-year old Devon White involved a single family pit bull attacking four family members, requiring four ambulances.
Since the majority of the attack occurred in the bathroom, the family believes that Heather found the dog attacking her son and struggled to pull the dog away from him and into the bathroom. According to the police report, the December 8 attack was not the first time the dog displayed aggression, but Heather couldn't give the dog up. "My sister has the biggest heart for animals and just couldn't get rid of it...her heart was too big and they thought they could fix him," Shannon said.
09/13/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies After Pit Bulls Attack Three Family Members
02/11/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Attacks Four Family Members, Killing One...
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.
“couldn’t give the dog up”
Translates into: “Refused to put the dangerous dog, down”
Horrifying. One woman dead and the child with 70 stitches and likely, permanent disability, disfigurement and lifelong pain. Two children are motherless.
Over a dog they *knew* was dangerous. It’s marvellous that she was brave enough to fight for her child’s life. It’s unfortunate that she or her husband weren’t responsible enough to end that dog before the tragedy, began.
How many is that now, just in the past two weeks?
If pitbulls were Tylenol, they’d have been recalled, already.
So, a little more than a 1.75 average pitbull kills *per week*. That’s really hard to wrap one’s head around.
If you’ve spent more than a few minutes on those websites for dog owners, you’ve probably seen the advice columns that say that you should never, ever, ever, EVER get rid of your dog.
And, if you do such a horrible thing, well, you truly are a horrible person.
Unfortunately, this latest victim may also have been the victim of such bad advice.
Quiet, a lot of people are making a lot of money keeping these dogs alive and providing training that does not work. They spend a lot of time shilling on dog sites to the clueless.
Some dogs with the right training can be fixed, no doubt about it. However, some of these people spew loads of horse crap for *thousands* of dollars and keep the game going on clueless owners for months.
I saw one where the poor owner had been paying for two months and the “behaviouralist” couldn’t get a medium-sized dog within a block of another dog *behind a fence* after daily “positive behavioural modification” (and paying by the owner).
Now, a decent dog trainer could have done that in a day. Or within a couple of sessions realised that the particular dog was too dangerous to be in a family home and advised putting the dog down. But they’d be out thousands of dollars for their honesty.
I’m not saying there are no honest dog trainers, there are. But as a buddy trainer of mine said, “If a trainer can’t heel your dog within the first half hour of handling it and show you how to do so–take your money to someone who can.”
Some of the biggest “trainers” on YouTube can’t train their own dogs to behave in a socially acceptable manner so I’m not surprised that the average dog owner is getting more clueless by the year.
Pitbulls, even the “friendly” ones, are too genetically questionable for the average family to handle, safely.
I’m a serious pro trainer and you hit the nail on the head ,it’s charlatan free for all out there and not one can even do an off lead recall yet they have claims they have a magic two week program that “fixes aggression , there are cases that can be managed but those are far Less than the ones that require the courage to demand behavioral euthanasia And face the pit bull agendas cyber lynch mobs
The pit bull cyber lynch mob bullied me to the point where I had to shut my Facebook business page down.
They also sent one of their members to drop a one-star review of my business on Google. I tried to get Google to remove it, on the basis of my having no connection with this person and the fact that we’d never done business together.
Google would NOT remove it. The danged one-star is STILL there.
Ah yes, those folks, Kelly.
Any trainer who trains dogs to work whether in hunting, herding, protection, competition, sports etc. is likely to have some good tips to pass along if they are respected in their field.
Sadly, their sensible advice gets drowned out by the spokesmodel celebrity doggy influencers shilling products for a hefty percentage.
Do still breed labs for service dogs? I have been seriously thinking of getting a service dog but I honestly had no idea how to find a breeder who was breeding service dogs instead of for showing or hunting. Let me know if you still do and I’ll have to get in touch. I am appalled by the pitbull nuts pushing them as service dogs for autistic children! I guess if you are intent on killing your handicapped child you can find less horrific ways of doing it!
Well Kelly, I watched these nutters put the best dog trainer I ever met…out of business. Their tactics were to show photos, obtained by google search of abused dogs then claim he did it. The person who started this owned a tan pitbull, the “abused photo” showed a red-nosed, sorrel pitbull in his barn (he didn’t have a barn) and yet they all hopped on the bandwagon with this clearly, unstable woman. I pointed out these discrepancies on many occasions to no avail.
When that failed to put him out of business, one claimed he sexually assaulted his stepson even though his ex-wife adamantly asserted that nothing ever happened. Again, they all jumped on the bandwagon.
They’re a cult. A dangerous one.
Zero integrity. They’re nothing more than deluded idiots used by dogfighters as cover. Of course they hate your Labs. Those are actual, useful dogs.
Wow! I didn’t know it was so many!
Hey!! Heather Pingel is my aunt and I wanted to clear some things up. My name is LaShanda Bernarde, I am in her obituary. The child who did get hurt healed just fine, he doesn’t have any disability’s and can walk perfectly fine. I will agree though the dog did show signs of aggression before, but it wasn’t her who wanted to keep it, it was her boyfriend who kept it.
Wow. If that’s true then her sister seriously misspoke.
Not that it changes what happened but it seems like adding insult to injury to imply that the victim was primarily responsible for having the dog in the home. I’m glad her son is ok.
They did not raise it to kill. They did not train it to kill their own selves. Therefore, it is not how they are raised. It is for what they were bred for.
Another one of several million Americans annually to sing the same old song: “He was always so friendly. I don’t know what could have gotten into him”.
Until dangerous breed canines are declared by law to be dangerous animals, it will be legal to force them on other people, their own children and their own selves.
The most dangerous thing to hear from a pit owner: “He’s never done anything like that before!”
Usually it is a lie, they have killed other animals and drawn blood from humans in most cases. Even it it is true it doesn’t change the fact that a fighting breed has inflicted a death or serious injury, in other words done what it was bred to do.
In this case since the owners refused to do the responsible thing and but this defective garbage dog down a wife and mother is dead, a boy is disabled and will never see his mother alive again.
Would it have been that much harder to just pick a breed that isn’t bred to kill in the first place?
What did this dog do that a lab, collie or beagle could not do?
Other than maul a woman to death and cripple her son of course?
When you are directly or indirectly responsible for causing a tragedy that doesn’t make you a hero when the tragedy strikes. If “A” did not exist “B” would not either.
Christy-succinctly put. I would also like to see pictures of the pit. The news article said the dog outweighed her by 30 pounds. (!)
“Pounds” don’t matter. A 50lb husky or pitbull can pull a two-hundred pound person off their feet in 6ft of leash torque. Easily.
Never mind that humans are often off-balance when they’re moving and an even smaller, less powerful dog can take advantage of that.
Same old song and I’m sick of it.
Agreed. Also the same old song of a deceptive GoFundMe. You would never know that it was the family pit bull when it is described as ” A dog.”
“Family pit bull” The mother was the dog owner, period.
I have many GSDs. Never has any one of them decided to take control over me. Single bites from.misdirected aggression.
I wonder if pit bull owners just don’t believe their dogs could kill.
It’s sad that Shane wasn’t home, as he obviously could control that dog. I would love to know age, sex, and whether altered.
Was the pit bull a “rescue”pop by dog.Was it raised in the home.
I cannot call her a hero, though certainly a brave mother.
She was unwilling to humanely euthanize a known dangerous dog. This makes her an idiot or delusional. Regardless, she has paid the ultimate price.
When will people learn? Pits are not safe pets!
There are those who will applaud the fact that 1. She “recued” this monster. 2. Tried to “fix” the dog after it showed aggressive 3. Her big heart for animals could not compel her to get rid of it. Now, she’s dead, two traumatized children and brokenhearted relatives. Even with all that, the dog worship lunatics will say she did everything right, and oh well…accidents happen.
No one should “rescue” what is akin to a wild animal… without a professional license, without knowledge, skill and experience. Any dog trainer who knows full well what these dogs are capable of would have refused the dog. These bleeding-hearts think that every dog can be ‘saved from euthanasia’ if only the right home situation comes around. The problem is that the average home is far too under-skilled to take one on, and those that ARE skilled are too realistic to take on the problem. They know that no amount of ‘rehabilitation’ of a dangerous dog will turn it into a valuable safe companion. Junk dogs deserve a landfill ending (via a vet visit).
Two small children now have no mother, all over a dog that the mother knew was aggressive and dangerous. I really don’t know what to think. Certainly sympathy for the children, one of which will have to live with the memory of the attack forever. But to harbor a known time bomb in the house with little children is, to me, no different than leaving a loaded gun laying around. What good could she possibly have thought would come from this?
I wonder whether the husband will get another pitbull after this.
I found this site after reading this (yet another) tragic story. I frequently find myself on the opposite side of so many subjects….and this one is a big one. We all have choices to make: to be vaccinated or not, to do “Santa” or not, to believe lies or to do real research. I have alienated more than one friend with my warnings about their beloved, sweet, would never harm a soul pit bull: “Your time will come.” They’re wonderful family pets until they aren’t. A family member adopted one who is old, has cancer and no teeth…..and I am still leery of her.
This is a bit of the other side. If a breeder has too many dogs, he/she may have few options. If he/she lets a shelter have them, the risk is great that the breeder will be hit badly by bad press. The humane society personnel will spread misinformation on the breeder.
So it’s so much better to be a pit bull with nasty temperament than most other breeds. He will.find a home rather easily.
Welcome! When my children were very small, before I would allow them to go to a friends house for a play-date, I ALWAYS inquired about the dog status of the home. I would never let them go to a house with a pit in it. This site has been one of sanity for me.
Glad it was not the kids, glad it was not an unsuspecting random person, glad it was the owner. Dude should have gave it the gun the first time.
While the four year old did not die, he received a pretty significant injury.
The boyfriend lost his job the day before this happened, according to the Gofundme.
Where did they get this dog and when are the pit peddlers going to have some liability?
I’m glad to see that this story is out there in the public, although it is focusing on the “hero” aspect of the mother. She may have selflessly gotten the dog to redirect to her instead of her son and locked herself in the bathroom with the mauling dog, but she SELFISHLY kept a dog in her home that was known to be aggressive. If the dog had killed that boy in its initial attack and couldn’t be redirected, the blame would be placed directly on the mother. But since she took the brunt of the injuries she gets not just a pass but hero status. This is the tragic loss of a young wife and mother for no reason at all besides the “good feelings” they got for not destroying a dangerous dog. Probably doesn’t seem very worth it now. A dog has zero sense of its own mortality, and doesn’t understand that the needle it is getting is not a vaccination shot but instead a fatal drug. Why not just do the right thing the first time and put down a dangerous and aggressive dog rather than wait for it to attack?
The news stories claim the dog was beaten by a previous owner… the usual sad tagline when a pit comes into the shelter with aggressive tendencies but no actual known history. A fighting dog breed doesn’t need the history of being beaten to be aggressive. This happens plenty of times with beloved family pets that are treated with every kind of good care. News stories also say that the boy fell down the stairs, which “for some unknown reason” caused the dog to attack. It’s a very known reason, the result of hundreds of generations of intentionally breeding in a tendency to attack at the first sign of weakness. Pretty clear reason, and it’s criminal that it is ignored.
So now we have a pit killing actually getting some media time, but the usual caveats are there to undermine the truth… “poor abused dog, don’t know why, hero mother.”
Just another observation: By couching this story in the headlines as “Hero Mom” instead of “Vicious Pit Bull Kills Mother” the emphasis is on the mother, not the culprit. I’ve seen this a lot in dog attack stories. For example, the young boy “hero” who protected his sister from a pit bull attack. The boy was very brave, no question about it. But the media actually likes to parade these “feel good” stories while ignoring the crucial point: dangerous dogs are killing and maiming so many people, especially children. In this case, the young man was pretty chewed up. Even the major outlets i.e. network news and the NYT rarely cover dog fatality stories, but they sure as heck feed viewers dozens of “adopted” sad sack pits as if these animals actually appreciate leaving a shelter. Of course, this latest tragic event puts that moronic idea to bed…yet again! When it comes to rescuing pit bulls, no good deed goes unpunished.
Indeed! Emphasis is on the character of the mother rather than on the unprovoked vicious actions of the family pet. And stories which add a detail like “dog had been abused by previous owner” just provides an excuse for inexcusable actions on the part of the dog. If prior abuse REALLY caused these attacks, then every pit with unknown history should be put down instead of pushed onto families looking to do a good deed. Right? And giving a cause for the attack such as “child fell down the stairs” makes people think the attack was excusable… as if people don’t fall, or have seizures, or have heart attacks, or cry, or shoot fireworks, or ______ (insert any other “cause” here).
This story should have served as a warning to everyone who thinks they are doing the right thing by “rescuing” a pit bull with a bad or unknown history from a shelter. It should also have been a hint at the danger of continuing to let a dog with aggressive tendencies live in your home. At the least it should make people aware that anything (even be a clumsy child) can trigger a dog that has in its genetics a propensity for sudden unrestrained aggression until death. But people probably won’t see those three warnings because they’re too busy applauding the actions of the mother to see the problems with the dog breed.
MOre like a 🤡 that endangered her children and paid the ultimate price .
I got rid of a pitbull several years ago and have felt a little guilty about it ever since. My teenage daughter was *severely* depressed at the time, and giving up her dog made it a lot worse. But the dog showed some signs of aggression, and intensive behavior interventions didn’t help. I never asked the shelter (that I gave him back to) what happened, but I imagine he was put down. I wanted to be able to say, if my daughter asked me, that I didn’t know.
After all these years I’m reading this story and everybody’s comments and I finally feel like a good mom again! I knew at the time it was “the right thing to do,” but the reality of what we were avoiding didn’t hit me until reading this terrible, sad story.
You are a great mother Anna. I couldn’t imagine getting rid of a family pet before I had a baby. But now I get it. I love and respect our furry companions, but that can never outweigh our responsibility to keep our children safe. We just have to do anything that has to be done to keep our family safe.
Anna, unfortunately the shelter more than likely recycled the dog back into the community, telling potential adopters that they have no knowledge of its prior history.
You absolutely made the right choice, Anna. I hope the shelter euthanized the dog, since it was your request. I’d also suggest that her vulnerability was exactly how your daughter was convinced to join in the pitbull cult.
Better she should hate you for doing the right thing than she not be alive to hate you, at all.
Someone in a good place isn’t capable of fixing most pitbulls with aggression. A person suffering mental health struggles certainly, isn’t. The longer it had gone on, the more unhealthy it would have been for your daughter as the guilt and remorse just would have added to her problems. An aggressive dog would have made the situation, untenable.
Depression can be intermittent, short-term or heal-able.
Mauling or death are permanent.
Anna, Don’t feel guilty about protecting your family by getting rid of the pitbull. Unfortunately, animal shelters will just give returned animals a new history and adopt them back out to unsuspecting people. Several years ago had a co-worker who had adopted a dog, and within a few weeks it bit her son. She returned it and the animal shelter admitted that it had been returned before because of biting–yet they told nothing about this to my coworker and family when they had originally adopted the dog.
Best thing if one has an agressive animal, is to have a vet humanely kill it. Worse thing is to dump it out in the country expecting some rural folk to take it in.
“My sister has the biggest heart for animals and just couldn’t get rid of it…her heart was too big and they thought they could fix him,” Shannon said.
This lion tamer/dog whisper attitude that anyone can ‘fix’ a dangerous mutant is what caused this woman to lose her life. Dogs aren’t like broken toys you can tape or sew together again to make them work again. These are predators which are powered by instinct which can’t be trained or loved away. This pit bull was unfixable, but this woman took the chance anyway; putting herself, her children, her entire family, her neighbors, and everyone else in danger.
Instead of having a big heart for animals, she should have had a big heart for HERSELF and her family. She allowed a known deadly beast to stay in her home and she paid the price for it. It’s only slightly reassuring that an innocent person wasn’t the victim, but it just as easily could have been.
From a training perspective you can’t “fix pitbulls” because they aren’t broken. Training a dog is taking its inherited traits and adding the skills that build on it’s inherited traits for human advantage.
Pitbulls were bred to murder other dogs/large dangerous prey (including humans) and to kill anything (including humans) that gets in the way of that goal.
A broken pitbull is one that *doesn’t* do that–not one that does.
Just as our society has seemingly accepted that we could be killed anytime while shopping, working, in school, etc., by a crazed spree killer, it also has accepted that toddlers, moms, the elderly, joggers, delivery people, etc. etc. will be ripped apart by vicious dogs. With both, most people are so desensitized they just shrug and move on.
The big difference is, however, that there isn’t a whole industry of movies, reality shows, cartoons, and picture books celebrating mass murderers as cuddly, misunderstood sweethearts that we should all bring into our homes.
The scary part for me as I read accounts of Pit Bull attacks is knowing that a friend’s wife is pregnant and will soon be bringing a newborn infant into the home. A home that also includes one of these monsters. I can only hope that Dad will come to his sense and get rid of it before introducing a new infant into the family. But I doubt that will happen.
Thinking if I were in your shoes that I might ask them to have a look at the many cases of fatalities here on DBO.
Let him know that these aren’t just rare occurrences. Some go unreported. Also let them know that dog biting injuries involving pit bulls requiring hospitalization would undoubtedly cause this website to need a large staff to handle the workload in covering such large undertaking.
But then again, thinking if I were in your shoes, my dog owning friends would be upset that I mentioned their situation here on this blog.
Appears that it can be a delicate situation. But if the worst happens then at least you can assure yourself that you tried.
A 5 years old boy in my country, Australia, was severely mauled by an American staffy, today Christmas eve…leaving him in a critical condition
He has dreadful injuries to his neck (of course)
I hope the little boy survives
Take care and best holiday wishes to all staff and readers of DBO
*bull terrier x American bulldog…
The family were dogsitting the dog (at its own home) and were at the home feeding and “playing” with the dog..
Sadly the 5 yr old has died, what chance did he have? He had severe neck injuries
RIP little boy, Christmas will never be the same for his family, just doing a good deed for their neighbours SMH
Quote snip from the linked news story: “Professor Stephen Rashford previously said: ‘The only good thing about wars is that they result in medical innovation.’ ”
Richard Buffalin currently offers this rebuttal: The only good thing about dangerous breed canines is that they result in medical innovation.
Thankyou Richard, l read and appreciate all of your comments..
This situation too, is because people insist on keeping these breeds??
In Australia, we have a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude…Us Aussies need to learn that it doesn’t always work with certain ‘bully’ breeds of dogs..
The pitbull is a ‘banned’ breed but not the American Staffordshire which is practically the same dog breed if you ask me…
The American staffy is the breed that mainly/mostly kills people in Australia too..
This boy stood zero chance once the mutt got his throat! Even with the 40 something year old grandmother there, trying to wrestle the brute off the child, she is still in hospital with her wounds, as of now! Too dangerous to be pets IMO
Terrible news to read on the holidays. And locally I always shrug when I see the latest “Pet Of The Week”.
We’re certain to catch up with a more recent tragedy. No doubt about it. And perhaps we already have.
While it sometimes feels like a losing battle at times, remember that as a rule with this ongoing and inescapable epidemic of maulings, that victories do not make the news.
I’m encouraged over a recent associate of mine of whom I inquired before paying a visit recently as to whether or not they still owned a pit bull.
“God, NO!” was the answer.
This website. and others, have done an unsung and unheralded service to the community as a whole in getting the message out. And it has undoubtedly saved lives. Keep that in mind.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Connie – long time reader, I had to stop by because this story made a headline on revolver.news which I read. Great news about big money lawsuit in LA, even better if it goes to the Supreme Court!
“She is the bravest, strongest mother I know”
Too bad she wasn’t the smartest or the dog would have been put down and the entire family spared.
I do think that if we just replaced the words “pit bull” in the story with the words “domesticated tiger,” the story would strike people very differently. A mother keeping a loose fully grown tiger around her small children—now how would that be received?
Pit bulls are capable of the same level of damage as domesticated tigers. They 100% should be placed in the same category. The average American reading the story of a pit bull attack should experience the same level of shock at the injuries and utter disbelief that someone *purposefully* chose to live with a powerful carnivorous predator.
Just because pit bulls are technically “dogs” does not mean that they should be considered a pet. A pit bull is as strikingly different from a normal domesticated dog as a kitten is from a tiger.
Many people have “raised them right” as tiger cubs then been mauled or killed by their adult wildcat. Sound familiar?
Owning a “pet” tiger is playing with fire. Owning a “pet” pit bull is playing with fire. Maybe you won’t get burned, or maybe your whole family will be destroyed with an agonizing, painful death. Is it worth the chance?
I agree with what others have have said. Yes, the mom is a hero for giving her life for her child–this is what a normal mother would do, but it can’t be expected from a pit-bull owner mother.
On the other hand, how much better if she had made the wise decision to have an aggressive animal put down. Because pitbulls can and do kill. It is one thing to give additional chances to an aggressive housecat or small dog, but a pitbull is not a household pet, it kills.