Please donate to support our work is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity organization. Learn more »

32 thoughts on “2022 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman, 43, Killed by Her Pack of Great Danes in Rural Clay County, Iowa

Please review our comment policy.

  1. For many Americans, our experience w Great Danes is seeing the long-time cartoon Marmaduke. It turns out another Marmaduke film came out this year, likely endearing the dog breed to children.

    Yesterday’s cartoon at the Go Comics Marmaduke website–August 17, 2022–features an old cartoon which is unfortunately ironic given this woman’s death by her pack of Great Danes.

  2. Same with “Good Dog, Carl” giving the false impression that Rottweilers are good with children.
    I’m seeing more and more Great Danes where I live. That’s a lot of dog to handle that also has stomach-flipping issues. I’m amazed at what little research folks do before getting a dog. Of course, pit/pit mixes are a perfect example of that.

    • In the face of massive pro-dog propaganda, why would people do any research before getting one? If all they hear is rhetoric about how wonderful dogs are, why would they suspect that anything could possibly go wrong?

      And this is the end result. People being injured, maimed, and killed by dogs.

      • This. And the fact is that most people have complete trust in their local animal shelter. They think that their local animal shelter would never adopt out a dog, if the dog was dangerous (and they think their local animal shelter is equipped to be able to determine which dogs are dangerous or not.) I used to think the same, until I heard stories from friends/neighbors who had adopted–like the first one I’d heard from a friend 15 or so years ago, who adopted a dog who bit her young child, and when she returned it, the animal shelter (THEN!) admitted that the dog had a history of bites. It had never occurred to either of us, that an animal shelter would adopt out a dog that had bitten, much less to a family with young children….we were both under the impression that dogs with a bite history would be euthanized. Even then, I thought it was an anomaly, and most animal shelters weren’t run that way. The average person is really uninformed about what animal shelters will do, to cover up a bite or violence history in a dog.

  3. Is there a leash law in the area?
    In other words, is it legal to have five dogs running loose? No matter what, it is dangerous to have five dogs loose together. Was there a dog fight that she tried to break up? If the five dogs had been small dogs, she would not have lost her life.
    However, five large dogs of any breed would have the power to kill a human. The Great Danes I have personally seen have not shown aggression. Maybe these were gentle dogs that turned on her for some unexplained reason. After all, they were just dogs. At any rate, it is very sad for anyone to lose his/her life in this manner.

  4. Even all leashed up, five Great Danes are a crowd. Definitely formidable to anyone walking by. They would have taken all the room on a sidewalk if she had not lived in the country. I get the impression she was walking her dogs when they turned on her.

    Unfortunate that a woman who seems to have lived an accomplished life as an equestrian and a motorcyclist appears to have not done due diligence on the dangers of dog packs.

  5. She lived in the county on a farm so they got to run free. Most people in Iowa that live in farms do this.
    She left that day to go for a motorcycle ride, and its been said that the dogs hated loud noise, and probably attacked her. BUT
    She got to the end of her driveway, and for some unknown reason PARKED her bike. Like parked it, with the kickstand down.
    From there we are not sure what happened to her. Funny thing though… the 911 caller who claimed to be a passers-byer was her EX husband! Who KNEW the dogs quite well, as he often visited her property to feed other animals and farm the grounds!!!
    I also have started a GoFund me for her daughter and grandson! Mindy was a very good friend of mine, along with her daughter and grandson!

    • I’m not surprised the dogs could run free there. I suspected that was the case. However, letting five big dogs run loose together is dangerous, in my opinion. I wonder if the dogs were fighting, as that would have been a reason she would have parked the bike. She would likely have tried to stop a dogfight. What really happened that day will never be known. Very sad for everyone involved.n

      • Anyone who give a crap about their dog(s) doesn’t let them run loose. They could get hit by a car, shot, poisoned, who knows?
        It’s just bad ownership.

        • I agree that most responsible dog owners do not let their dogs roam at large. That said, a friend who moved from a metropolitan area, where they wouldn’t have dreamed of letting their dog roam, to “the country” and then turned the family pets loose! Shortly after one was hit by an auto and died. I still don’t understand that behavior.

    • Jessica, I’m sorry for your loss and, of course, for her daughter and grandson. It’s such a sad and sudden way to lose a loved one. May she rest in peace.

    • Ah …a twist! My 1st thought was why did the caller think she was in a motorcycle crash? Was there a motorcycle laying on its side near the victim? Nope – a parked motorcycle – I don’t think many ppl stand their bike back up on its kickstand after a crash just sayin…

  6. Jessica: My deepest condolences on your family’s loss.

    Never met a mean Great Dane and I had a buddy that was an aficionado of the breed and I’ve trained a few. Clumsy and dopey sometimes, occasionally not great with other dogs but a full-on human attack is rare. Mark you, apparently one of them was aggressive which is why it was rescued, I may presume. That dog may have been the instigator.

    It only takes one aggressive dog to cause pack problems. And five huge dogs is not manageable running loose. Five dogs requires skilful dog handling and household management to prevent problems regardless of breed.

    Just letting them run loose, feeding and grooming isn’t enough and with five huge dogs, unless someone is handling dogs for a living–there’s not enough time in the day especially with any dogs that require extra training attention.

    I could be mistaken but it looks to me like this was a case of too many big dogs in an unstructured environment ending in tragedy.

    • I have met two Danes in my forty-three years as a trainer who attempted to scalp their human victims. Got the person down, gripped the scalp, and pulled back. Both attacks were stopped but not before tremendous damage One other Dane pinned me up against a wall then bit my shoulder badly. Had I not kept myself upright and the owner appeared, the outcome would have been very different.

      The term ‘gentle giant’ is applied almost reflexively with this breed. Originally this breed was used for hunting wild boar in Germany. This fact is as overlooked as the pit bull’s origin as a blood sport dog. These are often not Marmadukes but dogs with intense guard and suspicion of stranger traits.

      I never see this breed as dopey, goofy, or gentle until proven. They deserve caution, not the “oh, a gentle giant!” approach. That individual Dane might be that, but I never forget their origin

      • Not surprised at your experience. Sorry to hear you were bitten. That’s always a horrifying experience.

        Most people who come to the decision to get a dog trainer do so because they can’t manage the dog. With big dogs, sometimes it’s behavioural and sometimes it’s a matter of owners having poor handling skills that need to learn how to manage a heavy dog–even a friendly one.

        Can’t speak for your experience but I found the biggest danger in dog training was often the minimisation of dangerous behaviours by owners. Bluntly, a number of them, lied on intake.

        I never take on the idea that *any* breed of dog is automatically gentle, even a goldie–until I see it in action. My experience of them clearly varied, from yours, in this case. Even so, I would never suggest an inexperienced dog owner get any breed of such size and strength.

        Also, I suspect it may be what line of Great Danes. Barbra Woodhouse had a fair number of them and all were obedient and personable but I’d also suggest she had a fair bit of understanding of big breed dogs and behaviour management as well as breed lines and their tendency to protection.

        Having five of them at one time would likely bring out the worst in them, I suspect–even if any of the five that might be friendly in the hands of another handler, individually.

        Once they’ve killed–well, to me, end of story.

      • As a teenager I agreed to feed two Danes belonging to an acquaintance over a weekend. I had put their kibble in their bowls and was walking away when the intact male bit me high on my back. Fortunately he hit me so hard I stumbled and fell beyond the reach of his tether or I might not be here to tell the story.
        A family friend took in a stray male Dane who routinely growled at them if he was on the sofa and they tried to sit on it. They “got rid of him” but I don’t recall anymore what they actually did with him.
        I do not trust Great Danes at all given my experiences with the breed.

        • That’s really a shame, that so many have had negative experiences with the breed. My first dog when I was 19 was a big fawn Great Dane named Blade. I was working in his breeder’s boarding kennel when his litter was born and helped care for them, and then fell in love and had to have one. Blade WAS an actual gentle giant. I raised kittens and a Frenchie puppy with him, and he came to work with me at a grooming salon every day, where he would greet customers over the half-wall. I did do a LOT of training with him, though, for fun and to have a well behaved dog. I will say, if someone had tried to harm me, he would have killed to protect me. I saw that side of him come out when my ex began to get physical with me. I was never afraid when I was with Blade, though.

  7. I really appreciate the good common sense shown here in that the dogs were immediately destroyed. Why this doesn’t happen in every dog related fatality is beyond me. Of course, the dogs’ owner was no longer there to plead their case as so often happens when dogs kill someone other than their owner. How sad for her family and friends to have lost her in such a horrific way.

      • Does a pitbull pack fight and/or kill members of the pack or is it concealed? How many people are mauled or killed trying to split a pitbull fight? I’m always shocked when I hear of someone running a pack of pitbulls together, as I would think they would fight with each other. The pack killing my family’s dog included an intact male pitbull, an intact female pitbull, and an intact intact male mixed breed dog (not a fighting type dog). The male pitbull was the instigator and was responsible for all the serious damage. Still, why would these dogs have left their property to attack an elderly spayed female beagle mix dog? I don’t understand this. It seems that pitbulls may pick and choose what to maul and when to do it.

        • Because they’re bullies, literally. These dogs are scum that go after the very young, the very old, and the weak/injured/feeble.

    • Isn’t it funny that I won’t run five GSDs together?
      Why? I am afraid they would gang up against one and seriously injure or kill that dog. Yet people commonly do this. The results can be devastating as in this case.

      • As a teen I dog-sat for a lady who bred German Shepherds and Akitas. After an incident in which a male and female Akita ran down and killed a female German Shepherd while she watched helplessly, she no longer allowed more than two adult dogs to be loose at once. She also penned her dogs individually with only a couple of exceptions. At the time I did not consider the danger of my position as a teen girl alone in the back of a large rural property with such powerful dogs, some of which were not friendly to me. No cell phone to call for help, no nearby neighbors, and often my parents did not even know that I was stopping to care for the dogs. I was just happy to work with dogs and pocket my $20 a day. There’s no way I’d allow my teen daughter to do the same now.

        I have a healthy respect for any dog that is stronger than I am.

  8. This really makes me sad. My very first dog when I was 19 was a Dane, and he DID fit the ‘gentle giant’ stereotype. But I did tons of classes with him, knew his breeder well and got tons of help and advice, had researched the breed extensively, and of course only has ONE of him. He was an amazing dog who only would have hurt someone in defense of me, you could definitely see his protective side come out a few times. I was never afraid with that dog around. I cannot, however, imagine having 2 of him, much less 5! You really can have too much of a good thing.

  9. I’ve owned multiple Danes since the 80’s. Some were rescues and some were well bred dogs that I did a lot of research into the pedigree and the breeder before I bought them. My last one died of old age a few months ago, she was 12 years old. Most of my dogs lived very long relatively speaking for Great Danes, oldest one I’ve had was 13 and she could have lived longer except her back legs started to give out and I just felt like her quality of life would suffer if I let her go on. At this point in my life, I realize I’m at the age when getting another Great Dane would be asking for trouble and if I ever get another dog, it will be a low risk breed like a greyhound, or a collie. Great Danes are a huge responsibility and a huge liability. Not everyone should own one and that’s a fact. I wish there were breed specific legislation for Great Danes, it would be good for the dogs and make things safer for people. Great Danes require training if you don’t want them to become a nuisance and they require a strong owner. The only really aggressive one that gave me pause was a female Euro bred Merle that I took in when she was around 2 years old because some newly moved in neighbors were allowing her terrorize the neighborhood and they begged me for help. Huge mistake in my part for taking in someone else’s made problem. I learned from that dog that the only power you have over a dog of that size is mental and if they have already learned they can take advantage of a human, it’s beyond a reasonable risk to try and save them. I’ve always tried to get people to not call them “Gentle Giants”. To me, that description of Great Danes is as stupid as “nanny dog” is for pits. No one should have as many Great Danes running as a pack as this lady had, I wish someone could have been wise enough to convince her of that. Condolences to her family and friends.

  10. I am not going into the errant great dane history comments here, but they have strong danish roots. They were bred for hunting and guarding. Most danes still have a strong prey drive. I have owned Great Danes since the early 90’s. Some were the kid and people loving Marmaduke type, and I have owned the guard dog type. They are not just a dog you can leave to its own devices in your yard. There needs to be more policing on breed due to their sheer size and power. I agree with Charlotte.

    The rise in popularity of the breed today due to the color pallet these dogs come in is causing problems. It is painful to see my favorite breed being destroyed by overbreeding. The “euro” trend is disastrous and all about a look, and not at all about temperament. Euro dogs are shorter lived, not to breed standards, and more aggressive overall. The color code breaking is also a problem for the same reasons. Never buy from a “breeder” that advertises euro or sell non akc colored dogs. Greedy people are taking this breed backwards.

    Great Danes are not for people that can’t take them into their home and treat them like family. These dogs can end up with emotional problems manifesting in human aggression if abandoned. The only truly dangerous danes I have ever come across were “rescues”. It is sad to say but to me all mastiffs, danes, and bully’s should be put down if they end up in the pound.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *