Nonprofit Captured 74% of Breed Identification Images in 2021
Photographs of six fatally attacking dogs in 2021 obtained from multiple sources.
Jump down to view all 2021 breed identification photographs or read our analysis first.
DogsBite.org - In 2013, we began the tradition of publishing breed identification photographs of fatally attacking dogs when available through news reports, animal control agencies, police departments, social media and public information requests. Of the 51 dog bite fatalities recorded in 2021, 53% (27) had some form of an identification photograph. Our nonprofit was responsible for capturing 74% of them. Pit bulls and their mixes represent 63% of images collected in 2021.
Of the 27 cases with breed identification photographs, 48% (13) comprised images captured or republished by news media; 63% (17) comprised images located on social media pages of the dog's owner or family members; and 74% (20) comprised images that were the result of DogsBite research and otherwise may have gone unpublished. Police and animal control agencies only released images in 1 case, yet 80% of all deaths (41 of 51) involved dogs taken into quarantine.
(Percentages are higher than 100% due to a single death containing multiple photographs, each attributed to a different source, as well as images that fall into overlapping publishing categories.)
Identification Photographs (2013-2021)
From 2013 to 2021, images captured by our nonprofit have risen from 26% to 74%. Images captured by media have fallen from 79% to 48%.
Chart shows 9 years of breed identification photograph collection between 2013 and 2021.
Breed Misidentification Conflicts
In 2021, there were several breed misidentification conflicts. After Tiffany Frangione was killed by her own dogs in her backyard, partially sourced media reports identified them as a "cane corso" and an "Alaskan husky-mix." Those claims likely came from Frangione's social media pages where she mislabeled her own dogs. "Rachirius," a male, was also described by Frangione as a "bandog" and "rednose." She described the female, "Masha," as a "husky-golden retriever mix."
We designated Rachirius a pit bull-cane corso mix, predominantly pit bull, and Masha a shepherd-type mix -- not a "working sled dog-type."
After Leann Gratzer was killed by three dogs belonging to her daughter and her daughter's roommate, the canines were identified as two male pit bulls and one female mixed-breed by Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton. However, the daughter identified the female dog as "my baby girl" and "a red/brown pit" that took off in September "after a storm scared her" because she was not wearing her invisible fence electric collar. We designated this female dog a pit bull-mix.
In 2021, pit bulls (35), American bulldogs (2) and cane corsos (2), along with 4 deaths inflicted by rottweilers, once again dominated the top killing breeds. Combined, these breeds are responsible for 84% of all deaths in 2021. When breed was known (48 of 51 deaths), only 5 fatal attacks, 10%, involved dogs of other breeds. This same group of powerful molosser breeds also accounts for 84% (477 of 568) of all dog bite-related deaths in the 16-year data set of 2005 through 2020.
In 2021, 53% of dog bite fatality cases had some form of a breed identification photograph, a fall from the 8-year average of 63% (2013 to 2020). Our nonprofit captured nearly three quarters of them in 2021, 74%, through our research efforts. Breed identification photographs captured by media groups jumped to 48% this year as well, a 92% increase from the first pandemic year of 2020, when media captured breed images fell to 25%, the lowest ever captured by news media.
The decline of identification images released by law enforcement and animal control agencies, however, remained steady. Though providing over a quarter (28%) of the total breed identification photographs between 2013 and 2015, this has shrunk to only 4% over the last two years. To place this into perspective, dogs were seized and taken into quarantine in 41 of the 51 dog bite fatalities in 2021. Authorities only provided a breed identification photograph after 1 of these deaths.
2021 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs
Cameron Hatfield - Brunson, South Carolina
Photos of fatally attacking rescue pit bull (social media & dogsbite)
Infant John Doe - Epsom, New Hampshire
Photos of fatally attacking family American bulldog (social media & dogsbite)
Aziz Ahmed - Carteret, New Jersey
Photos of two fatally attacking pit bulls (social media, news media & dogsbite)
A'Myrikal Hull - Springfield, Illinois
Photos of at least one pocket bully living at the home (social media & dogsbite)
Tony Ahrens - Cocke County, Tennessee
Photo of cane corso seized by the sheriff’s office (news media)
Jayden Henderson - Garner, North Carolina
Photos of two fatally attacking pit bull-mixes (social media, news media & dogsbite)
Elayah Brown - Fort Worth, Texas
Photos of fatally attacking family pit bull-mix (news media)
Elliot Sherwin - Whitehall, Montana
Photos of two fatally attacking family rottweilers (social media & dogsbite)
Carter Settles - Norwich, Connecticut
Photos of fatally attacking family pit bull-mix (social media, family provided & dogsbite)
Dustin Vincent - Sulphur, Louisiana
Photos of fatally attacking pit bulls (social media, news media & dogsbite)
Malia Winberry - Willow Spring, North Carolina
Photos of two fatally attacking family rottweilers (social media, news media & dogsbite)
Shamar Jackson - Marion County, South Carolina
Photos of several mixed-breed dogs seized by authorities (news media)
Adult Jane Doe - El Paso, Texas
Photo of family pit bull belonging to the victim’s daughter (social media & dogsbite)
Emily Kahl - Toledo, Ohio
Photo of fatally attacking family pit bull seen at left (social media & dogsbite)
Amber Miller - Cocke County, Tennessee
Photo of cane corso seized by the sheriff’s office (news media)
Rhoda Wagner - Perry County, Pennsylvania
Photos of two family pit bulls living in the victim's home (social media & news media)
Sally Rogers - Bloomfield Township, Michigan
Photos of fatally attacking male family rottweiler (family provided & dogsbite)
Alex Abraha - Newnan, Georgia
Photos of two fatally attacking pit bulls (social media, news media, sheriff's office & dogsbite)
Amber LaBelle - Myrtle Point, Oregon
Photos of fatally attacking large pit bull-mix (social media & dogsbite)
Bentley Parker - Sevier County, Tennessee
Photos of fatally attacking family Saint Bernard (news media)
James McNeelis - Creek County, Oklahoma
Photos of fatally attacking family mixed-breed (victims' advocacy network & dogsbite)
Tiffany Frangione - Houston, Texas
Photos of fatally attacking family dogs (social media, news media & dogsbite)
Avery Jackson-Dunphy - Mesilla Park, New Mexico
Photo of fatally attacking female mixed-breed (news media FOIA)
Leann Gratzer - Franklin County, Missouri
Photos of fatally attacking female pit bull-mix (social media & dogsbite)
Lori Martin - Sumter County, South Carolina
Photos of three of four fatally attacking family dogs (social media & dogsbite)
Duke Little Whirlwind - Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Montana
Photo of fatally attacking female pit bull (victims' advocacy network & dogsbite)
Heather Pingel - Bowler, Wisconsin
Photo of fatally attacking family pit bull (victims' advocacy network & dogsbite)
Post Publication Identification Photographs
Breed identification photographs discovered after the publication of this post on January 12, 2021. These photographs are not included in our overall analysis; they were unavailable at that time.
Karen Rosa-Madrid - Los Angeles County, California
Photos of two of four fatally attacking cane corsos (dogsbite FOIA)
How We Track Photograph Sources
We track the identification photograph's original source. There may be multiple images of a dog, thus multiple sources may be attributed to a single death. We also track where the image was published. For instance, after the death of Avery Jackson-Dunphy, local media outlets obtained a shelter intake photograph through a FOIA. No breed identification images were willingly released by the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, thus it was sourced to a news media FOIA.
What is simpler to measure in our tracking and analysis is the rising number of breed identification photographs located on social media, from only 16% of all collected images in 2013 to 63% in 2021, a 294% rise. It is also easy to see the routinely low number of images provided by law enforcement even though the majority of dogs after a fatal attack are held in a quarantine facility. Police released identification photographs after 1 death this year, 4%, of all cases with images.
Photograph Tracking Categories
- U.S. news media supplied original photograph and/or republished photograph
- DogsBite.org published only; no news media republished the photograph
- Social media website supplied breed identification photograph
- Law enforcement or animal control department supplied photograph
- Animal control allowed news media to take photographs inside shelter
- Canines shot to death at the scene of a fatal dog attack
- Canines taken into quarantine after a fatal dog attack
01/12/21: 2020 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/07/20: 2019 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/08/19: 2018 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/11/18: 2017 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
01/09/17: 2016 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence'...
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.
Great research and tracking down of photos, Colleen. Rather puts pad to the idea that strong dog genetics aren’t recognisable on sight.
Huskies and Shepherds get mislabelled because people see the “eyebrows” and sometimes muzzle markings. Littlest Hobo reverse face masks adds to the public confusion. These dogs were specially bred to have expressive faces on camera so light eyebrows were specifically bred into the line as well as intelligence.
Most huskies have white/cream eyebrows with a dark face mask. German shepherds tend towards the reverse…dark eyebrows with a lighter face mask.
I also find it reprehensible to label strong pitbull mixes as just “mixes” when the majority pitbull part of that mix is what so often, causes the problems.
Colleen, as always, great research and evidence. Seeing the victims-especially the children-juxtaposed with the killers is chilling. Thank you for your investigative journalist work. As much as pit bull proponents object to the truth, a picture is worth a thousand words indeed.
So disconcerting to click on the larger images and see the killer in the background of baby A’Myrikal Hull – Springfield, Illinois’ picture.
“My Parents Are Getting Me A Human”
smh and left with the thought that the only one in that household that was “human” was mauled to death.
Disgusting that there are those who will view these pictures and feel anguish over the murder dogs being put down while having zero sympathy for their victims.
I recently got a job that involves a drive through window. Every time someone pulls up with one of these gruesome mutts in their car I cringe inwardly.
These stories are so heart-rending, and they never end. I started following 7 years ago after a girl in my area had been killed by her family pitbulls. Having children myself, I especially felt bad for her family. I had no idea at that time that “pet” dogs could be dangerous. Neither did this poor girl’s family.
One of the pictures this year looks so much like one of my own children when he was small, I did a double take. So many heartbroken families. And so many people with these ticking timebombs that will be killing in 2022.
I love animals, but not animals are meant to be household pets. There is a huge difference between individuals in the canine species, people need to realize that and not falsely believe that all canines = household pets.