Lovell Anderson, 4, was killed by a loose pit bull while playing in his grandmother's backyard.
Pit Bull Kills Child
Detroit, MI - A 4-year old boy is dead after being mauled by a pit bull. The attack occurred about 3:00 pm in the 9300 block of Pierson Street. The child was playing in the fenced-in backyard of his grandmother's home when the dog grabbed the child through the fence. Detroit Police Cmdr. Arnold Williams told CBS News, "She actually had to pull the child away because there was a dog that mauled the child; tried to pull the child under a gate of a fence. She was pulling the child back."
WBJK reports the pit bull did pull the child under the fence, then killed the boy. EMS pronounced the boy dead at the scene. Animal control took two dogs into custody. Police are still investigating the dog(s) involved and its owner. Family members told WBJK that they are terribly distraught. "As we know in Detroit, pit bulls are a big problem when you don't have them trained properly or tied up" or properly secured, the relative said. This could have been prevented if the dog had been secured.
"The tragedy is with the family and all we can do for everybody, for everybody who is looking at this is to support the family in this process," Cmdr. Williams told reporters at the scene. "So we're trying to do everything that we can just to help everybody through this. The loss of a child who hasn't really started their life is just something huge that nobody can really even fathom." An adult was home with the child at the time, police said. Family members believe the culprit dog belongs to a neighbor.
Child Victim Identified
Family members identified the child killed by an unsecured pit bull as Lovell Anderson. At the time of the attack, he was under the care of his grandmother -- his parents were not present, reports WBJK. The news agency also states the "dog managed to grab Anderson and pull him to the other side through a gap under the fence, before fatally attacking him." One of the two dogs taken into custody is believed to be the attacker. The other is a family dog that belongs to the boy's grandmother.
WXYZ spoke to Maple Blackshear and Monique Grant, who are sisters and the boy's aunts. Blackshear and Grant said the boy was an only child. He was visiting his grandmother's home and playing in the backyard when they were told a neighbor's dog jumped the fence and attacked. The family retained an attorney. “The event was so horrific that people across the street could hear,” attorney Peter O’Toole with Fieger Law said. “They're the ones who contacted authorities right away,” he said.
According to police, the dog then dragged the boy back to the other side through a gap in the fence. Neighbors from a block away heard the grandmother's cries for help. One neighbor "thought someone was getting beat." By late Thursday, the dog's owner had not been identified or charged. Media reports suggested the dog was a stray and had been seen by neighbors wandering the street previously. O’Toole said that it's still too soon to know who the owner is or if the city has any liability.
"We have to let the investigation take its course to find out who the owner is," O’Toole told CBS Detroit. "Then, we also have to find out if this is a repeated issue with that animal and that owner. And in that case, we will try to hold the city accountable. We want to seek justice for the family. Whoever should be held accountable, we will hold them accountable," O’Toole said. - Attorney Peter O'Toole, CBS Detroit, October 19, 2023
Broken Record in Detroit
Wayne County has a long history of fatal pit bull attacks. The county's 1.7 million population is smaller than San Bernardino County, California (2.2 million) and Harris County, Texas (4.7 million) -- the other two leading counties in fatal dog attacks. The fatal pit bull mauling issue is so persistent in Wayne County that a case study was published in 2007 that characterized pit bull mauling deaths in Detroit. In April, Daniel Bonacorsi, 58, was killed by two pit bulls habituating a vacant building in Detroit.
In late September, a northeast suburb of Detroit, Grosse Pointe Shores, which is partially located in Wayne County, passed an ordinance banning pit bulls. The ban passed in a 4-3 vote. However, the backlash from pit bull advocates and humane groups that largely reside "outside of Grosse Pointe Shores" was so extensive, that the city reversed the ordinance less than 4 weeks later. Detroit and Wayne County still retain the undesirable title as the "dogfighting capital" of the United States.
Graphic Medical study: Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit, by Cheryl L. Loewe MD et al., The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Vol 28, December 2007.
04/06/23: 2023 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Killed by Two Pit Bulls Habituating a Vacant Detroit Building
08/22/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: 9-Year Old Girl Killed by Three Pit Bulls on Detroit's West Side
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.