DogsBite Blog https://blog.dogsbite.org Some dogs don't let go Sat, 16 Jan 2021 05:35:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 2020 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/2020-fatal-dog-attack-breed-identification-photographs.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/2020-fatal-dog-attack-breed-identification-photographs.html#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2021 01:18:10 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=19019 Nonprofit Captured 79% of All Breed Identification Images in 2020 Photographs of six fatally attacking dogs in 2020 obtained from multiple sources. Jump down to view all 2020 breed identification photographs or read our analysis first. DogsBite.org - In 2013, … Continue reading

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Nonprofit Captured 79% of All Breed Identification Images in 2020

2020 breed identification
Photographs of six fatally attacking dogs in 2020 obtained from multiple sources.


Jump down to view all 2020 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 46 dog bite fatalities recorded in 2020, 61% (28) had some form of an identification photograph. Our nonprofit was responsible for capturing 79% of them. Pit bulls and their mixes represent 71% of images collected in 2020.

Of the 28 cases with breed identification photographs, 25% (7) comprised images captured or republished by news media; 79% (22) comprised images located on social media pages of the dog's owner or family members; and 79% (22) comprised images that were the result of DogsBite research and otherwise may have gone unpublished.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 67% (31 of 46) of all deaths involved dogs taken into quarantine.

(Percentages are higher than 100% due to a single death containing multiple dog images, each attributed to a different source, as well as images that fall into overlapping publishing categories.)

Identification Photographs (2013-2020)

From 2013 to 2020, images captured by our nonprofit have risen from 26% to 79%. Images published by media have fallen from 79% to 25%.

breed identification photograph 2013-2020

Breed Misidentification Conflicts

The most controversial case in 2020 involved the surly American bully breeding community. Lisa Urso, 52, was killed by her two Shorty bulls, but headlines claimed they were French bulldogs. A Shorty bull is a short, squat, gargoyle variation of the American bully and is only recognized by the American Bully Kennel Club. The Shorty bull "designer bull breed" was created by mixing 5 different types of bull breeds, including the French bulldog and American pit bull terrier.

The French bulldog community was so outraged that the President of the French Bull Dog Club of America left a comment on our website, appreciative of our identification of the dog. "As the President of the French Bull Dog Club of America we are glad to see the dogs identified correctly," Becky Smith wrote. "As a 500 member club our members including myself are outraged that French Bulldogs were named in this awful occurrence ... this was not done by French bulldogs."

2020 also marks a year when there were a number of different types of bull breeds involved in fatal attacks, including: pit bull, bull terrier, American bulldog, American bully and their mixes. There were also two types of mastiffs involved in fatal dog attacks -- a Neapolitan mastiff and a bullmastiff or South African mastiff (take your pick). Only 3 fatal attacks, 7%, involved dogs that were non-bull breeds: deaths inflicted by one Belgian malinois and two German shepherds.

Summary

61% of dog bite fatality cases in 2020 had some form of a breed identification photograph. Our nonprofit captured over three quarters of them, 79%, through our research and FOIA efforts. This additional level of photographic evidence is on top of the 565 plus multi-sourced news reports we collected and 30 public information requests we sent to various coroners' offices, police departments and animal control departments for the known 46 individuals killed by dogs in 2020.

Finally, the global pandemic greatly impacted media reports and breed identification photo collection this year. In 2019, there were 48 people killed by dogs and we logged over 1,025 news reports for these deaths. Even though there were 46 fatal dog maulings in 2020, media reports of them halved to 565. Media reports that captured breed identification images greatly diminished in 2020 as well, down to 25% of all photographs from an average of 57%, a decrease of 56%.

2020 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs

Julian Connell - Lafayette, Indiana

Photo of fatally attacking family pit bull-mix (social media & dogsbite)

Julian Connell fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Julian Connell, 1-month old, was killed by a family pit bull-mix at his home on Greenbush Street in Lafayette, Indiana on January 25, 2020. The pit bull had been fighting with the family's beagle prior to attacking the infant. The infant's mother, Jennifer Nicole Connell, was later charged with three counts of neglect.

Sterling Ver Meer - Oro Grande, California

Photos of fatally attacking family pit bull "Thor" (news media)

Sterling Ver Meer fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Sterling Ver Meer, 5-years old, was killed by a family pit bull while under the care of a babysitter in Oro Grande, California on February 10, 2020. After the attack, the babysitter told media outlets, "Don't trust pit bulls. They can change at any moment." The male pit bull, named "Thor," was reportedly 12-years old.

Lee Becham - Crawford County, Georgia

Photos of two fatally attacking pit bulls (social media & dogsbite)

Lee Becham fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Lee Becham, 76-years old, was brutally killed by up to three dogs belonging to his neighbor on February 23, 2020. His cause of death was ruled "traumatic injuries due to dog attack." On March 10, the dogs' owners, Samuel and Angel Brown, were each charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to his death.

Geraldine Hamlin - Shreveport, Louisiana

Photos of two family pit bulls in the home (social media & dogsbite)

Geraldine Hamlin fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Geraldine Hamlin, 64-years old, died after being mauled by two family pit bulls in Shreveport, Louisiana on February 28, 2020. The victim shared her home with her son and the two dogs; the dogs belonged to her son. "The pets were no strangers to the family," Shreveport Police Corporal Angie Willhite said.

Frederick Shew - Portland, Oregon

Photos of fatally attacking family mastiff (news media)

Frederick Shew fatal mastiff attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Frederick Shew, 70-years old, was killed by his mastiff. After his housemate heard a "loud thud," he went to investigate and found the dog, named "Thor," shaking Shew's neck "like a ragdoll." He said that "blood was shooting out" of Shew's neck. He was able to wrestle the dog away from Shew, but it was too late.

Doris Arrington - Memphis, Tennessee

Photos of two suspected fatally attacking pit bulls (social media & dogsbite)

Doris Arrington fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Doris Arrington, 59-years old, was killed by four dogs on April 22, 2020 in New Chicago, a neighborhood in North Memphis. She died of "massive blood loss." Three members of the same family were charged with reckless homicide in connection to her death, one of which owned at least two pit bulls that she bred.

Roxie Parker - Welsh, Louisiana

Photo of fatally attacking family bull terrier (social media & dogsbite)

Roxie Parker fatal bull terrier attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Roxie Parker, 60-years old, died after a "dog attack that left her with injuries too extensive for recovery," states her obituary. The attack occurred on April 20 in Welsh, Louisiana. Roxie died at a Lafayette hospital on April 24. The Jefferson Davis Sheriff's Office confirmed the dog involved was a male bull terrier.

Dr. Nancy Shaw - Lyons, Georgia

Photos of three fatally attacking pit bull-mixes (Lyons Police Department & dogsbite)

Nancy Shaw fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Dr. Nancy Shaw, 62-years old, was found dead in a ditch after being mauled by four loose dogs on May 7, 2020 in Lyons, Georgia. Police seized three dogs involved in the attack, all pit bull-mixes. Prior to being captured, the fourth dog was shot and killed by a resident after it tried to break into the man's chicken pen.

Lisa Urso - Ingleside, Illinois

Photos of the victim's two shorty bulls (social media & news media)

Lisa Urso fatal shorty bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Lisa Urso, 52-years old, was found mutilated and dead on a patio after being mauled by her own dog on May 9, 2020 in Ingleside, Illinois. Police described the scene as "gruesome." The suspected dog, the brindle, had previously attacked Urso's boyfriend twice in the weeks leading up to the deadly owner-directed attack.

Robert Taylor - Mount Vernon, Arkansas

Photos of dog owner breeding pit bulls (social media & dogsbite)

Robert Taylor fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Robert Taylor, 9-years old, was savagely killed by a pair of pit bulls when he went to check the mail on May 28, 2020 in Mount Vernon, Arkansas. Trey Edgar Wyatt, 25, of Vilonia, was arrested and charged with felony tampering of evidence and multiple animal control ordinance violations in connection to his death.

Skylar Headrick - Crandall, Georgia

Photos of two fatally attacking family Neapolitan mastiffs (social media & dogsbite)

Skylar Headrick fatal mastiff attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Skylar Headrick, 11-years old, died after being attacked by a pair of Neapolitan mastiffs on May 31, 2020 in Crandall, Georgia. The dogs were known to "fight with each other," according to her father. Murray County Deputy Coroner, Alan Robins, said her cause of death was "blunt and sharp force trauma."

Brice Sanders - Stockton, California

Photos of fatally attacking family pit bull (social media & dogsbite)

Brice Sanders fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Brice Sanders, 2-years old, was severely attacked by a male pit bull while visiting a home in the Western Ranch neighborhood of Stockton on May 31, 2020. The boy was taken to a hospital then airlifted to the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where he died early the next morning.

Katie Amos - Country Club Hills, Illinois

Photos of pit bull puppies being sold in February 2020 (social media & dogsbite)

Katie Amos fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Katie Amos, 70-years old, was killed by four family dogs on June 3, 2020 in Country Club Hills, Illinois. The attack occurred in her driveway. Arriving officers were forced to open fire on the dogs, killing one, in order to reach her. Country Club Hills Police confirmed the dogs involved were pit bull-cane corso mixes.

Infant John Doe - Hartford, South Dakota

Photos of male Belgian malinois in the family's home (social media & dogsbite)

xxxxx fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | John Doe, 6-weeks old, died after being bitten by a Belgian malinois on June 11, 2020 in Hartford, South Dakota. Fire and Rescue arrived and found the infant with "several bite wounds." The boy's parents had at least five large dogs in the home, including a Belgian malinois, Belgian tervuren and German shepherd.

"Coco" Portes Morilla - Oviedo, Florida

Photos of one of two fatally attacking family pit bulls (social media & dogsbite)

Coco Portes Morilla fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | "Coco" Portes Morilla, 86-years old, died four weeks after a rampage attack carried out by two family pit bulls in Oviedo, Florida. Three family members were hospitalized afterward. The autopsy report stated that Coco died of "complications of multiple dog bites." Contributing factors were Dementia and heart disease.

Barbara Cook - Mandeville, Louisiana

Photos of two fatally attacking family pit bulls (social media & dogsbite)

Barbara Cook fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Barbara Cook, 72-years old, was killed by her daughter's two pit bulls on June 25, 2020 in Mandeville, Louisiana. Cook was babysitting her 10-year old grandson when the dogs attacked. She placed herself between the boy and the dogs to protect him. Deputies were force to gun down both dogs to stop the attack.

Donald Ryan - Jeffersonville, Indiana

Photos of two family pit bulls living in the victim's home (social media & dogsbite)

Donald Ryan fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Donald Ryan, 62-years old, was killed by his own pit bull on July 1, 2020 in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The arriving officer found Ryan "actively being attacked by a large pit bull," according to police. He was forced to open fire on the dog, killing it, to stop the vicious attack. Ryan also had additional pit bulls in his home.

Marley Wilander - Joliet, Illinois

Photos of the suspected fatally attacking pit bull (social media & dogsbite)

Marley Wilander fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Marley Wilander, 1-year old, was killed by a pit bull during the night while her family attended a July 4th party in Joliet, Illinois. The hosts of the party had locked their two pit bulls in the basement for the party. At some point during the night, the dogs escaped and attacked the baby, who was in an upstairs bedroom.

Stephen Pemberton Sr. - St. Clair County, Illinois

Photos of two fatally attacking family pit bulls (social media & dogsbite)

Stephen Pemberton fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Stephen Pemberton, 61-years old, was killed by his stepson's two pit bulls on August 26 in Belleville, Illinois. His stepdaughter and a health care worker were also in the home during the attack, but in a separate room. They could hear the attack happening, but could not leave the room they were in, police said.

Carolyn Varanese - Margate, Florida

Photos of fatally attacking "rescue" pit bull-mix (news media & social media)

Carolyn Varanese fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Carolyn Varanese, 84-years old, was killed by a large pit bull-mix on August 28, 2020 in Margate, Florida. Her son Joseph had adopted the dog from a rescue a few weeks earlier. The dog "just went berserk," Joseph explained. "I flipped the dog over, slammed him on the ground -- that didn't help, he came back stronger."

Karen Wilkerson - Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Photos of one of two fatally attacking family pit bulls (social media & dogsbite)

Karen Wilkerson fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Karen Wilkerson, 76-years old, was killed by one of her daughter's two pit bulls on September 11, 2020 in McCurtain County, Oklahoma. She suffered severe facial lacerations, a partially amputated left leg and many other bites. She was being transferred to a regional hospital when "her vital signs crashed."

Infant John Doe - Alamogordo, New Mexico

Photos of fatally attacking family American bulldog-mix (social media & dogsbite)

Infant John Doe American bulldog attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Larger image | Infant John Doe, 1 month old, died after being bitten in the head by a family dog. The baby was in a swing in the living room and was actively crying. The dog, a gray and white male American bulldog-mix, was lying in the living room and suddenly attacked the baby. The infant was flown to a hospital in El Paso, where he died of his injuries.

Zachary Willis - Moses Lake, Washington

Photos of fatally attacking family pit bull (social media & dogsbite)

Zachary Willis fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Zachary Willis, 27-years old, was killed by a male pit bull living at his residence on October 8, 2020 in Moses Lake, Washington. The dog also inflicted severe bites on an adult female in the home. First responders tried to resuscitate the young man at the scene, but could not. Willis was pronounced dead at the scene.

Curtis Wickham Jr. - Tulsa, Oklahoma

Photos of one of three fatally attacking pit bulls (news media & social media)

Curtis Wickham fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Curtis Wickham Jr., 26-years old, was killed by three pit bulls on October 22, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Prosecutors later charged the dog's owner, Benjamin Ryan Spence, with second-degree murder for directing his dogs to attack Wickham and assault with a deadly weapon for throwing a TV at Wickham's head.

Michelle Carr - Hampton, Virginia

Photos of fatally attacking family German shepherd-mix (social media & dogsbite)

Michelle Carr fatal German shepherd attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Michelle Carr, 2-months old, was killed by a family dog while sleeping. Prior to police arriving, the dog had been "shot outside the residence" by its owner, police said. The infant had been in an electronic swing next to the bed when the dog attacked. The dog was a male, 8-year old German shepherd-mix.

Donald Allen - Jackson County, Florida

Photos of the suspected fatally attacking pit bull-type dogs (sheriff's department)

Donald Allen fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Donald Allen, 65-years old, was killed by a pack of dogs on November 18, 2020 in Jackson County, Florida. He had been walking on Kirkland Road at the time. The sheriff's office released photos of the dog pack taken from trail cameras, which contained four American bulldogs, some pit bull-mixes and mixed-breeds.

Dion Bush - Battle Lake, Minnesota

Photos of fatally attacking German shepherd imported from Poland (dogsbite)

Dion Bush fatal German shepherd attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Dion Bush, 14-years old, was fatally bitten by a German shepherd on December 10, 2020. His mother had imported the dog from Poland in February for her breeding operation, Lakeview Shepherds. At the time of the fatal bite, his mother was trying to sell the dog, which had done "show training and bite work" in Poland.

Jane Doe - Tallahassee, Florida

Photos of the 4 suspected pit bulls living in the home (social media & dogsbite)

Jane Doe fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Summary | Full blog post | Larger image | Jane Doe, an adult, died after being attacked by a family pit bull on December 20, 2020. She was attacked while trying to break up a fight between two dogs in the home. There were four adult pit bulls and nine puppies in the home. Only one dog was involved in the attack. The autopsy results remain pending.

Excluded Case with Identification Photograph

Raelynn Larrison - Dayton, Ohio

Photos of multiple American bullies in the home (social media & dogsbite)

Raelynn Larrison fatal pit bull attack, 2020 breed identification photograph

See: Full blog post | Larger image | Raelynn Larrison, 4-months old, died after apparently being smothered by a dog. Her father woke up from a nap about 7:00 pm on New Years Eve and found the dog on top of her. She was not breathing. Her father breeds American bullies under "Nut House Bullies." There were a number of the dogs in the home when she died.

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 Brice Sanders, DogsBite obtained a quarantine photograph through a FOIA, as well as images from the dog owner's social media page. No images were published by the news media, thus it was sourced to our FOIA and social media.

What is easy to see 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 79% in 2020, a 394% 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 images collected.

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

Bolo, fatally attacking Hazel Park pit bull

Last year, we did not have an image of the dog that "detonated like a bomb" inside a Hazel Park, Michigan home on October 29, 2019 killing 4-year old Benjamin Cobb. We were able to obtain one in 2020. When images from previous years are located, we add them to that year's post.

Related articles:

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
01/14/16: 2015 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs - DogsBite.org
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence'...


Baseline reporting requirements:
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.

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Rescuer Involved in Highly Litigated 'Gus' Case, Flees Scene After her Fake Service Pit Bull Attacks Child, Says Mother https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/rescuer-flees-scene-after-fake-service-pit-bull-attacks-child.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/rescuer-flees-scene-after-fake-service-pit-bull-attacks-child.html#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2021 20:50:28 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=19050 After 3-year old Ronin was attacked in the face by a fake service pit bull, the owner fled. Dog Impounded UPDATE 01/15/21: The fake service pit bull that attacked 3-year old Ronin Waldroup has been surrendered by its owner. Aaron … Continue reading

The post Rescuer Involved in Highly Litigated 'Gus' Case, Flees Scene After her Fake Service Pit Bull Attacks Child, Says Mother appeared first on DogsBite Blog.

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Fake service dog flees scene
After 3-year old Ronin was attacked in the face by a fake service pit bull, the owner fled.

Dog Impounded
UPDATE 01/15/21: The fake service pit bull that attacked 3-year old Ronin Waldroup has been surrendered by its owner. Aaron Johnson, Director of Montgomery County Animal Services, said the dog was taken into their custody Thursday. Johnson became the director in 2017, according to his Linkedin page. Thus, he was not part of the "Gus" case that began at Montgomery County Animal Services in 2013 and resulted in multiple lawsuits and the dog being sent to California.

"We believe the dog caused serious injuries to this child and is a dangerous and vicious animal. We’re seeking to ensure that this dog is unable to injure anyone in the future." - Montgomery County Attorney B.D. Griffin

A report from the Houston Chronicle late Friday confirmed that the pit bull, named "Kingston," was seized from its owner and taken into custody. County attorney B.D. Griffin said in a statement Friday that he is taking legal action against the owner of the dog. The dog has already been declared dangerous because it caused serious bodily injury, Griffin said. A hearing on January 22 will determine if the dog will be returned to its owner or held in county custody and euthanized.

The legal action against the dog owner could fall under Section 822.005 (1) Attack by Dog with "criminal negligence," when a person "fails to secure the dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person that occurs at a location other than the owner's real property," which is a third-degree felony. Because the victim is a 3-year old child, the legal action may also fall under Texas statute 22.04, Injury to a Child. Instead of aiding the child, the dog owner fled the scene.


01/13/21: Surveillance Footage
New surveillance video has been released after a woman and her fake service pit bull left the scene after her dog attacked a 3-year old girl in the face. The video shows Jennifer Romano walking away from the child's father with a brown and white pit bull wearing a red service dog vest. This appears to be the same brown and white male pit bull seen on Romano's Facebook page, named "Kingston." Investigators still have not made direct contact with the dog's owner.

On Saturday, the Waldroup family took their 3-year old daughter to the Loose Caboose in Old Town Spring. As Ronin entered the restaurant a few steps ahead of her parents, she encountered the dog. "It had a hold of her face and shook her," said a witness. The child's mother rushed Ronin to the bathroom. Her father, James, took off after Romano, who continued walking away from him. The new video has no audio, but one can see James and Romano having an animated exchange.

ABC 13 reports the Loose Caboose has received backlash after the incident, apparently about service dogs. Not only are service dogs allowed in businesses like restaurants under state and federal laws, but according to the entity's Yelp page, they are "dog friendly" too -- non-service dogs are also welcome. One reviewer said that this is "Kozmo's favorite spot to relax before we hit the shops again," referring to her dog sitting in a booth in the indoor section of the restaurant.

Jennifer Romano with fake service pit bull

Romano seen walking away from the facial dog bite scene with her fake service pit bull in tow.


Madeline Ryan Smith, who is blind, discusses the issues of fake service dogs after learning about Ronin's facial attack. Smith also discusses why the ADA, which is full of loopholes, must change.


01/11/21: Dog Owner Identified
Old Town Spring, TX - On Saturday, a fake service pit bull attacked a child in the face and the owners fled the scene. Shortly thereafter, the child's mother identified the owner as Jennifer Romano. "Update: We are looking for Jennifer Romano," Cece Waldroup wrote. "She is the owner of the dog that attacked my 3-year old yesterday in Old Town Spring! Please help us find her! We have a number but it was disconnected." The police are trying to locate this person, she said.

According to Waldroup, Romano fled in a car with a man named Perry Muras. But they did not flee without being confronted by her husband. A witness captured this on video. "This was from a witness of my husband confronting the people to not leave!" Waldroup said in a follow up post. Another post zooms in on Romano's face, which is not covered by a Covid-19 mask. A friend of Waldroup, Crystal Johnson, posted more images of Romano fleeing the scene in a Toyota Camry.

On Sunday, Waldroup went Live on Facebook, making a plea to the public. "On January 9, 2021, my daughter was viciously attacked and mauled by a pit bull disguised as a service animal inside a restaurant. The owner of that dog fled from the restaurant with my husband chasing after her, begging for her to stay and show some compassion and to file a report. Please. If you have any idea of her whereabouts, please let us know. Her name is Jennifer Romano," Waldroup said.

"She can possibly be found in the Houston, Spring, Woodland or Conroe area. Please share this video as much as you can. No child or parent should have to deal with this kind of trauma. This is not the first incident. I am the third victim of this woman and her dogs." Waldroup then shows images of her daughter's facial injuries. She asks people to please share her video on social media. On Monday, Waldroup posted photographs of Romano, and the pieces flew together.

Back in 2013, Jennifer Romano of Maggie's House Rescue was called out in a petition on the grounds of fraud and demands for an animal cruelty investigation. Enter the highly litigated case of "Gus" the pit bull. Gus spent 425 days at Montgomery County animal shelter after attacking Amber Rickels,1 who had been fostering the dog for Romano. Gus was later sent to Cesar Millan's Dog Psychology Center for "rehabilitation," but landed on death row again, causing another lawsuit.

As of the afternoon of January 11, 2021, Waldroup is desperately seeking information on Romano's whereabouts. We saw in comments on Waldroup's Facebook page that Houston-based ABC 13 News is investigating. Hat's off to Waldroup and her husband James, who confronted Romano and her accomplice outside of the restaurant and were able to track down her identity. Hat's off to the bystanders who also captured video footage of the couple fleeing in their Toyota.

Monday Evening Updates

On Monday evening, ABC 13 aired a report featuring the child's parents, Cleveratta "Cece" Gordon-Waldroup and her husband James. The family had just arrived at the Loose Caboose with a close friend, Kimberly Parker. Ronin was leading the group to the line to order when she encountered the fake pit bull service dog. "It had a hold of her face and shook her," Parker said. "The lady pulled on the leash, the dog released her and she just dropped like a rag doll."

The mother rushed Ronin to the bathroom. "I just needed to stop the bleeding. I just needed to stop the bleeding," Gordon-Waldroup said. When Ronin's father learned she was bitten by a dog, he turned around and asked, "What dog?" That is when two people at the door said, "She's running that way." James chased the woman and her dog down the street, yelling to her that she needed to stay. Romano yelled back at him, "It's your daughter's fault" and drove off, he said.

Fake Pit Bull "Rehabbers"

America abounds with self-appointed "dog whispers" who claim to specialize in magical pit bull rehabilitation. The most recent notorious case is Steffen Baldwin, who currently faces 42 charges related to animal abuse and fraud. None of these fake pit bull "rehabbers," however, have such a miserable, failed history as Romano. "Gus" alone landed on death row twice after attacking at least four times, including Romano's then boyfriend, which resulted in at least two civil lawsuits.

It's unknown which of Romano's pit bulls attacked the child. Though, her now defunct website did show a white pit bull wearing a service dog vest. "Gus" never made it out of California alive after his second stint on death row in 2014. Jennifer Romano deleted her Facebook page after her fake pit bull service dog attacked Ronin and she fled the scene. The Harris County Sheriff's Office said they know who owns the biting dog and have a "meeting scheduled with her," reports ABC 13.

Channel 2 News and Fox 26 also aired segments Monday night featuring Gordon-Waldroup and her family. Investigators are considering a charge of criminal negligence against Romano.

Fake service dog flees scene

Jennifer "Jenny" Romano seen on her Facebook page and Maggie's House Rescue's now defunct website. Romano's current rescue business name appears to be "Jenny's Pets."

Amber Rickles responds to Jennifer Romano

One day after Romano fled the scene after her fake service pit bull bit a child in the face, Amber Rickles publicly responded: "Jenny Romano is out there again and this time it was a child!"

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help pay Ronin's future medical expenses.
1Amber Rickles was eventually awarded $1.3 million in damages. Romano never paid a penny of it.

Related articles:
08/18/20: Unmasking a Con: How a Pit Bull Activist Rose to Fame in the No-Kill Community...
02/10/19: Unmasking a Con: How a Sudden Pit Bull Activist Parleyed Role into Top Job...

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2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Unidentified Woman Dies After Pit Bull Attack in Tallahassee, Florida https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/woman-dies-after-pit-bull-attack-in-tallahassee-florida.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/woman-dies-after-pit-bull-attack-in-tallahassee-florida.html#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2021 23:56:39 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=19025 An unidentified woman died after being attacked by a pit bull in Tallahassee, Florida. Woman Died in December Tallahassee, FL - Two weeks ago, a woman was mauled by a family pit bull and died. Police did not issue a … Continue reading

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woman killed by pit bull in Tallahassee
An unidentified woman died after being attacked by a pit bull in Tallahassee, Florida.

Woman Died in December
Tallahassee, FL - Two weeks ago, a woman was mauled by a family pit bull and died. Police did not issue a news release and have been investigating ever since. The Tallahassee Democrat received a "heavily redacted" police report of the December 20 incident on December 21. The "records request were all but devoid of details, including the exact location of the attack," reports the Democrat. Tallahassee Police later provided details about the case to them in an email.

Police were dispatched to a home in the 600 block of Campbell Street on December 20 at about 6:20 pm in response to an “animal call where the woman involved was unresponsive and not breathing." The body of an adult female, age and identity not known at this time, was removed from the scene. Tallahassee Police spokeswoman Alicia Turner said the woman was attacked by the family pit bull as she attempted to break up a fight between it and another dog in the home.

"Investigators determined there were four adult pit bulls living at the home and nine puppies, who were three weeks old," Turner told the Democrat. "As the victim was attempting to break up a fight between two of the dogs, another dog attacked her." The unnamed owner of the dogs requested that the attacking dog be euthanized; the other three adult dogs were returned to the owner(s). The puppies were surrendered and placed into foster care until they are eligible for adoption.

It is unknown if the attacker was the mother of the puppies. Further, it is unknown why the victim's identity is still "unknown at this time" since this is described as a "family dog" attack, but the victim was not the owner of the dogs. The victim may have been dog sitting this pack of pit bulls and the nine-puppy litter, or staying at the dog owner's home, but police are not releasing her name. It is unclear how many people, if any, were also present at the home when the pit bull attacked her.

Evening Updates

Late in the evening, we located the obituary of 74-year old Edna Mae Patterson McGhee who lived in the 600 block of Campbell Street. Edna died on December 20, according to her obituary. Her daughter, Keeva McGhee, also lived at the residence and is seen with four adult pit bulls on her Facebook page. We sent this information into local media and expect confirmation in the next few days. Keeva also operates the Tallahassee-based online business, DNAsoaps.com.

woman killed by pit bull in Tallahassee

Four pit bulls seen on the Facebook page of the victim's daughter in March 2018.

woman killed by pit bull in Tallahassee

The location of the dog attack, 600 block of Campbell Street, is across from Bond Elementary school and Florida A&M University's baseball field in central Tallahassee.

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: Florida Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

Related articles:
11/09/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Killed by Pack of Dogs in Rural Jackson County, Florida
10/13/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies While Hospitalized After Pit Bulls Attack Three...
09/06/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Recently Adopted Pit Bull-Mix Kills Woman in Margate, Florida
03/06/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Pack of Dogs Kill Woman Living at Assisted Living Facility...


Baseline reporting requirements:
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.

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Working at an Open Intake Shelter: Deliberate Breed Mislabeling, Aggressive Dogs and Unprepared Adopters https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/open-intake-shelter-breed-mislabeling-aggressive-dogs.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/open-intake-shelter-breed-mislabeling-aggressive-dogs.html#comments Mon, 04 Jan 2021 17:40:27 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=18924 Images of deliberately mislabeled pit bulls that DogsBite.org located in a 60 second online search. Adoptable dogs from taxpayer-funded open intake shelters in the Midwest and Northeast.1 DogsBite.org - In mid-December, this letter was sent into our nonprofit. We've known … Continue reading

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open intake shelter
Images of deliberately mislabeled pit bulls that DogsBite.org located in a 60 second online search. Adoptable dogs from taxpayer-funded open intake shelters in the Midwest and Northeast.1


DogsBite.org - In mid-December, this letter was sent into our nonprofit. We've known for several years now that many open intake shelters operate in this manner. But first-hand accounts are still painful to read. The degree of full-fledged lying to the public cannot be expressed enough. The volume of dogs with aggression being released to rescues and unprepared adopters cannot be expressed enough. That "supervisors" are driving both factors cannot be expressed enough either.

The degree of "hoopla" and "self-congratulation" by rescues after "saving" a dog with extreme aggression, only to secretly put it down, hiding this from their rabid supporters, is yet another dysfunction. It is a vicious cycle, all to carry out the single metric 90% "save rate" of no-kill. The cycle is compounded by a grim result: unstable pit bulls being released to unprepared adopters. Some of these dogs will go on to kill multiple pet dogs; the great irony under the sham of no-kill.

Most of these shelters and rescues, along with their staff, volunteers, and unwitting adopters, oppose mandatory pit bull sterilization laws too, which is the only humane solution to this perpetuating problem that does not restrict ownership in any other way. A 2011 study found that only 27% of pit bulls are spay/neutered, whereas all dog breeds combined is 64%. The author's own experience at an open intake shelter remarks on the low pit bull spay/neuter rate too.


I worked at an open intake shelter for 8 months in 2019. My role was to market adoptable dogs to the public and to private rescue groups. I interacted with medical staff, behaviorists and administrators that consistently denied the Pit Bull crisis.

About 65% of the dogs that came into the shelter were either pit bulls or very obviously mixed with pit bull, but any dog that was not an obvious, undeniable pit bull was labeled and marketed as a Lab or boxer-mix due to breed specific regulations and restrictions with HOAs and landlords, especially solid brown or black dogs that looked nothing like a Lab in structure. An incredible number of these dogs had incidents/bite histories from attacking/killing cats and other dogs, which were glossed over or explained away by supervisors. Many times I would go into the system and re-lable a dog’s breed only to have it changed back by a supervisor and get chastised that no one really knew a dog’s breed without DNA testing and it was our job to get dogs released alive to rescues or adopted.

In the time I worked there, there were four dogs destroyed purely for behavioral concerns, and none were pit bulls -- one was a German shepherd, a mastiff/husky mix, and two rottweilers. Dogs with serious bite/attack histories were released back to their owners as dangerous dogs despite being aggressive and escape-prone, because the supervisors were afraid of the online community of pit bull advocates that watched our online databases like hawks and would call/email/bombard the Facebook page with angry comments if they believed a pit-type dog was in danger of being euthanized due to behavior. Two dogs were sent to rescues after separate, serious incidents, including one where a dog removed and consumed a portion of an animal control officer’s calf after tearing through his uniform pants and latching on; the other dog had killed three smaller dogs in separate incidents after escaping from his yard. Still, both dogs were sent to rescues at great expense and with much online hoopla and self-congratulation. Both dogs were then euthanized within weeks by the rescues that pulled them due to their extreme aggression, which made them impossible to approach, much less train, but none of this was spoken about to the rescues followers or supporters.

There were many times that I was made to feel like I was being unfair to the dogs I was evaluating when I noted their behavioral issues and triggers, such as obvious aggression toward other dogs, barrier guarding, or high prey drive directed toward smaller animals. I was chastised by management for being honest about these dogs, and many times I worried about the homes the dogs went to, with many being poorly prepared for any dog, much less one with the inherent unpredictability of temperament inherent with dogs bred to attack their own kind and smaller animals. Four times, pit bull-type dogs were returned for aggression; one attacked a child in the home, but all five were then sent to rescues, with their hapless adopters demonized as being unfit to own an animal or cruel to the dog when no evidence of such conditions existed.

As many other writers on your blog have noted, because pit bull breeders seem to be less responsible with spaying and neutering their dogs, it is very difficult to find a dog in a shelter or non-breed specific rescue that is not at least partially mixed with pit bull, and the pressures from the greater dog owning community to guilt new pet owners into adopting rather than buying compels people to take on bully breeds who are poorly prepared for them. Personally, as a dog professional, I have no interest in owning a bully breed, which will cost the same amount (or greater, due to the skin issues that also seem to plague them) to vet and feed as any other similar sized dog, with the additional challenge of dealing with unpredictability when it comes to temperament and the restrictions against them. I hope to see effective sterilization shots come onto the market in the future that will allow these dogs to be eliminated from the gene pool. There is no place for this type of dog or the genetics for dog/small animal aggression in a modern, companion animal valuing society.


The misguided "save them all" crusade offers no solutions to the stop the vicious cycle. The no-kill solution is to repeal all municipal-level and housing breed-restrictions on pit bull-type dogs. Their solution is to grow the problem, not to reduce it, by targeting the root of the problem: fewer of these dogs being born. This author offers one solution: "I hope to see effective sterilization shots come onto the market in the future that will allow these dogs to be eliminated from the gene pool."

The author also echoes the sentiment of public safety advocate Ann Marie Rogers, whose experience of pit bulls "was reinforced on a daily basis as we came across animal victims of pit bull attacks and their bereaved owners." The author has a deep concern about dogs with animal aggression routinely being adopted out. "There is no place for this type of dog or the genetics for dog/small animal aggression in a modern, companion animal valuing society," the author states.

"It is not a success, and it is not responsible, if we show sympathy for the dogs we see at our animal shelters, but have no concern for creatures we do not actually meet: the pets and children, out of sight, out of mind, who may pay the price if we unleash the dogs we should euthanize for public safety reasons."2 - Jim Luckwick statement to the Office of the Inspector General, 03/27/15

Rogers and the author, both with animal welfare backgrounds, also used the word "consume" when referencing a violent pit bull attack. "Starvation is not a prerequisite for a pit bull to kill and consume a human being," Rogers said. This author states: "Where a dog removed and consumed a portion of an animal control officer’s calf after tearing through his uniform pants and latching on." We see this routinely in fatal pit bull maulings. Pit bulls are not just biting, they are consuming.

1Dogs in photograph from left to right: 1.) South Bend, IN open intake shelter. 66+ pound male. 2.) South Bend, IN open intake shelter. No weight given, but about 70-pounds. 3. ACCT Philly, PA open intake shelter. 83 pound male. Adult home only. Owner surrender 11/19/20 for reactive behavior, "playful but cannot regulate aggression."
2Jim Luckwick statement to the Office of the Inspector General, 03/27/15. Background.

Related articles:
12/16/20: Ann Marie Rogers: Animal Welfare Advocate, Animal Control Officer, Public Safety...
07/31/20: 2020 Edition: 125 Behavior Terms for Shelter Dogs Decoded that Mask Aggression
10/16/19: A Pit Bull Adoption Disaster: Animal Aggression, Anti-Anxiety Medication and More
05/11/18: Shelters and Humane Groups Often 'Encode' and 'Conceal' Aggression in Adoption...
09/20/16: What's Behind the Clickbait Web Advertisements of Aggressive Shelter Dogs...

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Baby Dies New Years Eve After Man Reports Finding Dog on Top of Her in Dayton, Ohio https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/baby-dies-new-years-eve-dog-on-top-of-her-dayton.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2021/01/baby-dies-new-years-eve-dog-on-top-of-her-dayton.html#comments Fri, 01 Jan 2021 20:33:09 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=18935 Raelynn Larrison, 4-months old, died after a family dog was found lying on top of her. The Baby's Parents UPDATE 01/03/21: The baby's parents have been located on Facebook. Both are commiserating the loss of Raelynn in a recent post. … Continue reading

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Raelynn Larrison, dog injury
Raelynn Larrison, 4-months old, died after a family dog was found lying on top of her.

The Baby's Parents
UPDATE 01/03/21: The baby's parents have been located on Facebook. Both are commiserating the loss of Raelynn in a recent post. Both also own American bullies, "developed as a natural extension of the American pit bull terrier." The father breeds them too under "Nut House Bullies." It is unknown how many dogs were in the home at the time of the baby's death. Four? Twelve? One recent video shows a white American bully sniffing the baby while she was lying in a carrier.

dog on top of baby, smothers baby

A December 1st video shows one dog sniffing the baby while she was lying in a carrier.


01/01/21: Baby Girl Dies
Dayton, Oh - A 4-month old baby died after she was found with a dog lying on top of her on New Years Eve, authorities say. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office identified the baby as Raelynn Larrison, of Dayton. The cause and manner of death have not yet been determined. Crews were dispatched to a home in the 20 block of South Findlay Street about 7:00 pm after a report of a baby not breathing, according to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center.

The infant was transported to Dayton Children's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The baby's death is under investigation and an autopsy will be conducted, according to the coroner's office. WRGT spoke to Lonnie Dapier, a neighbor. "God bless that child and I just hope they get that dog taken care of one way or the other so it won't injure anyone else," he said. Dapier has lived in the neighborhood for eight years and said the dog has gotten out several times.

Last January in Dayton, just 2.4 miles away, a 4-month old baby girl was killed by a family pit bull while her mother was asleep on the couch. At the time, the baby's mother was taking prescription medications. The baby's father, Parker Terwell, said he arrived home just before midnight and found the infant alone lying on the floor and not breathing. Terwell also told police he had thrown a Marijuana bong into the kitchen trashcan before police arrived. No charges were ever filed.

A family member has started a GoFundMe for baby Raelynn to help with funeral costs.

Similar Case in Ohio

In May 2005, in Lockland, Ohio, a family pit bull smothered a 1-month old baby girl. Police were "not sure why or how long the pit bull laid on the baby, named Maria, in the house in the 300 block of Williams Street," reported WLWT back then. The baby was on the couch and her mother was in the kitchen when it occurred just before 5:00 am. When rescuers arrived, the baby was bleeding from the nose, police said. That baby's death is excluded from our dog bite fatality statistics.

baby found dead dog on top of her

Home on South Findlay Street where a baby was found not breathing with a dog on top of her.

Related articles:
08/08/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: 7-Month Old Baby Killed by Family Pit Bull in Akron, Ohio
01/13/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Pit Bull Kills 4-Month Old Baby Girl in Dayton, Ohio

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DOT Final Rule: No Longer Recognizes Emotional Support Animals, Prohibits Pit Bull Bans in Aircraft Cabin and More https://blog.dogsbite.org/2020/12/dot-final-rule-no-more-emotional-support-animals-prohibits-pit-bull-bans.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2020/12/dot-final-rule-no-more-emotional-support-animals-prohibits-pit-bull-bans.html#comments Mon, 21 Dec 2020 22:31:40 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=18827 The Department's final rule allows fighting breeds as service animals in the aircraft cabin. Final Rule Issued Washington DC - On December 2, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued its final rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals. It … Continue reading

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DOT final rule traveling by air with service animals
The Department's final rule allows fighting breeds as service animals in the aircraft cabin.

Final Rule Issued
Washington DC - On December 2, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued its final rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals. It is now absolute that the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) no longer recognizes emotional support animals (ESAs) as a service animal. Passengers claiming to have a disability and needing to fly with one or more ESAs in the aircraft cabin is finally an artifact of the past. The DOT's final rule also recognizes psychiatric service dogs as a service animal.

Passengers flying with a service animal must complete a combined behavior and health form developed by DOT, attesting to the dog's training, behavior, and health. This form also warns, "It is a Federal crime" to make fraudulent statements. DOT also allows airlines to require that service animals be harnessed or leashed at all times when onboard. However, the Department prohibits airlines, such as Delta, from banning pit bull breeds as service animals in the aircraft cabin.

Our ninth special report about traveling by air with service animals dives into the events that led up to the Department's final rule, including a violent facial attack by a lap-held "support dog" in 2017, along with the pros and cons of the final rule. We also discuss DOT's "open-ended," promise regarding future bans of fighting breeds in the cabin; DOT's false arguments about pit bull identification; and how DOT did not err on the side of safety regarding bans of fighting breeds.

Leading Up to the Final Rule

The need to mitigate the widely abused loophole in the ACAA pertaining to service animals and ESAs began with new urgency in 2017 after Marlin Jackson, then 44, was repeatedly attacked in the face by a large "support" dog seated on a man's lap on board Delta Flight 1430. At the time, Jackson was in a window seat. The dog attacked his face, while pinning him against the window. This occurred just after Jackson asked the owner multiple times, "Is your dog going to bite me?"

The 50-pound support dog that attacked Jackson was technically a psychiatric service animal, not an ESA, and it was clearly untrained.

Delta responded in January 2018 by tightening the reins on untrained "support" animals flying in the cabin. Delta began requiring passengers flying with an ESA or psychiatric service animal (PSA) to submit a signed Veterinary Health form verifying immunizations and a signed Animal Training form, attesting to the dog's behavior, to its support desk at least 48 hours before travel. Passengers with service animals were also required to show proof of basic immunizations.

As indicated above, ESAs and PSAs were formerly treated the same way by airlines. Both types required a signed letter from a licensed mental health professional stating the passenger has a mental health-related disability and that the passenger needed the animal for an activity at the passenger's destination. In 2018, to reduce fraudulent untrained "support" animals flying in the cabin, Delta began requiring a health and training form for these types of support animals too.

Just five months later, in June 2018, Delta banned pit bull-type dogs as service and support animals in the aircraft cabin. Delta also began limiting passengers with support animals (ESAs and PSAs) to one support animal per person. The new policy came after multiple employees were bitten by a passenger's ESA. Apparently, a passenger attempted to board a plane in Atlanta with not one, but two alleged emotional support pit bulls. Two Delta crew members were bitten.

"I can understand that many people have anxiety issues and that comfort animals can mitigate this. But not at the expense of the safety of others on board. Flying is stressful enough (and I have a basic fear of flying, though Martinis allow me to cope) without having to worry about your face being ripped off by someone's 'comfort pit bull.'" | full comment - Gaius Marius, who witnessed the attack

In our related special report, we pointed out in defense of Delta, that airlines are not subject to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which does not allow breed restrictions. We stated in June 2018: "Delta was correct in stating that 'untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk.' Under the ACAA, the prohibition of pit bulls is apparently legal, as a safety standard, (§382.117) and Delta is free to 'err on the side of safety.'"

At that time, Delta also provided insight into their reasoning for the ban. A pit bull advocate left a comment on social media, sharing what Delta had told her after she complained about the ban: "Hello Lorraine, RE: Case 01211022 … We have worked with our Advisory Board on Disabilities to develop this more detailed policy. Pit bull type dogs tend to not behave as well in small spaces and we feel not allowing them is in the best interest of our customers and employees," Delta stated.

The issues of PSA fraud and pit bulls not behaving well in confined spaces play into DOT's final rule, so keep both aspects in mind.

In August 2019, the Department issued final guidance of its enforcement priorities. Parts of DOT's guidance, which is not legally binding, foreshadowed their final rule, stating, "the Department is not aware of and has not been presented with evidence supporting the assertion that an animal poses a direct threat simply because of its breed" and "The Enforcement Office continues to take the view that restrictions on specific dog breeds are inconsistent with the current regulation."

Airlines had 30 days to respond to the enforcement guidance. Delta responded by continuing its pit bull ban, stating: "Delta instituted its ban on pit bulls in 2018, to protect the airline’s employees, customers and trained service animals. Pit bulls account for less than 5 percent of the overall dog population but 37.5 percent of vicious dog attacks. Understanding this risk, Delta has not come to a solution for allowing pit bulls onboard that satisfies its own rigorous safety requirements."

On January 22, 2020, DOT issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking for public comments on whether a crowded airplane cabin justifies airlines banning pit bulls. Our comments focused on the unpredictable aggression by pit bulls, the disproportionate response by pit bulls when they attack and that airlines cannot conduct an "individualized assessment" for each service animal prior to flight because behavior tests, even when conducted by experts, have low predictive value.

"Airline travel has a number of unpredictable elements, from sudden turbulence to abrupt loud noises to long delays. This unpredictability combined with the extremely confined space inside an aircraft cabin could exacerbate the well-identified dangerous characteristics in pit bulls, a breed that consistently displays these traits -- failure to communicate intention before an attack, disinhibited aggression and a disproportionate response to stimuli -- when in a safe, predictable environment." - DogsBite.org (DOT-OST-2018-0068-18935)

This brings us to the present discussion of the Department's final rule. Despite well-crafted and cited public comments by this nonprofit and many airlines, all supporting the right to restrict certain breeds as service animals in the cabin -- specifically fighting breeds -- the DOT eliminated breed bans. DOT did so by citing the "ancient" and debunked American Temperament Test, which is not based upon scientific random sampling of any dog breed, is breed-specific and is biased.1

The Pros of DOT Final Rule

Airlines no longer have to accommodate emotional support animals (ESAs) in the airline cabin. The final rule now defines a service animal in coordination with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The DOT defines service animals as a dog that is "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." Airlines can now recognize ESAs as pets.

Prior to the final rule, ESAs were subject to airport rules governed under the ADA and had to be crated while in an airport, but were allowed to be loose in the aircraft cabin. Certainly, the DOT aligning its definition of a service animal with the Department of Justice will "reduce confusion for individuals with disabilities, airline personnel, and airports." The ACAA never should have had a special carve-out for ESAs to begin with since their sole function is to "provide comfort."

DOT now also limits each passenger to two service animals instead of three. While that may seem like a modest improvement, it points to the absurdity of a person with a disability managing three separate dogs in the cabin and airlines having to accommodate them. The airlines had wanted to limit passengers to only one service animal. The Department also clarified that airlines can refuse to transport two service animals if they cannot safely fit in the passenger's lap or foot space.

Leashing and Large Dogs

In a departure from the ADA, the Department's final rule "allows airlines to require service animals to be harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times, even in instances where the device interferes with the service animal’s work or the passenger’s disability prevents use of these devices." DOT was convinced by commenters who explained to them that, "non-physical means of control over the service animal, such as voice commands or signals, could implicate safety on an aircraft."

Regarding large service animals, such as mastiffs and Great pyrenees, DOT stated that, "Passengers, including passengers with disabilities traveling with large service animals, are not entitled to more space than they purchased." However, airlines must accommodate passengers with large service dogs by moving them to a different seat, transporting the animal in cargo or by providing an opportunity to take a later flight if there is space available on the later flight.

Combined Unified Form

Under the final rule, passengers with service animals are required to complete a combined animal behavior and health form provided by the DOT for each trip.2 The form contains the following warning: "It is a Federal crime to make materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements, entries, or representations knowingly and willfully on this form to secure disability accommodations provided under regulations of the United States Department of Transportation 18 U.S.C. § 1001."

A unified DOT form eliminates forms created by each airline. Owners must attest to the behavior and training of their dog, that their dog has "not behaved aggressively or caused serious injury to another person/dog," that their dog must be tethered at all times, that airlines may treat their dog like a pet if it exhibits poor behavior and that if the passenger "knowingly make false statements on this document," he or she can be subject to fines and other penalties." DOT also states:

"[The form] educates the user that the animal must be harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered; that the animal may be treated as a pet if it engages in disruptive behavior; and that the user may be responsible for any damage caused by the service animal. The Air Transportation Form also provides airlines with a means of contacting the service animal user and the animal’s veterinarian in the event of an incident that endangers other passengers or service animals." - DOT final rule, 12/02/2020

Enforcement of the Federal crime notification -- the part that matters the most -- begins by an airline notifying the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (ACP) of the fraud. The Office plans to refer these reports to the Department’s Office of the Inspector General for investigation and prosecution. ACP "does not have the authority to assess fines or other penalties on passengers who make false statements based on the ACAA or a regulation prescribed under that Act."

Open-Ended Promise

Finally, though the final rule prohibits airlines from banning certain breeds, specifically fighting breeds, which are already regulated at a national-level in at least 42 countries, the DOT said it will "continue to monitor published studies or accounts of dog behavior by breed or type and reports of incidents involving service dogs," and if there is data indicating that certain breeds pose a heightened threat to the health and safety of people in close proximity, we will revisit the issue.

42 countries barring the entrance of pit bull-type dogs into their borders is not enough evidence for DOT. All three branches of the U.S. military banning pit bulls from privatized housing is not enough evidence for DOT. Over a dozen medical studies from Level 1 trauma centers since 2011 examining serious dog bite injuries, largely inflicted by pit bulls, is not enough evidence for DOT. Thus, there will never be enough evidence for DOT. "Revisiting" this issue is an empty promise.

The Cons of DOT Final Rule

By the Department harmonizing its definition of a service animal with the ADA, psychiatric service animals (PSAs) no longer require a letter from a licensed mental health professional. That is good news for a qualified person with a disability, but bad news for service dog fraud. Many Americans have witnessed a dog owner claiming to have a service dog for "PTSD." Recall that DOT allows two service dogs per person as well. Thus, a pair of fake PTSD service pit bulls is foreseeable.

"Most notably, psychiatric service animal users will no longer be required to provide a letter from a licensed mental health professional detailing the passenger’s need for the animal, nor will they be required to check in one hour before the check-in time for other passengers." - DOT final rule, 12/02/2020

Airlines had concerns about this too, stating in public comments, "the extensive fraud that airlines have experienced involving individuals who do not have a disability but falsely claim that their pet or other animal is a service animal will migrate to another service animal category (e.g., PSA or seizure-alert animal)." DOT promised to "monitor," by some mechanism, "whether unscrupulous individuals are attempting to pass off their pets as service animals for non-apparent disabilities."

The Breed Discussion

The "breed" discussion starts on page 34, where DOT suspends its commitment to treating traveling by air different than the DOJ's ADA regulations, which govern public ground facilities. DOT cites the "ancient," American Temperament Test, which lacks random sampling, as part of the reason why airlines should not be able to ban pit bulls. DOT also cites false information claiming that the American Pit Bull Terrier (e.g., UKC, ADBA) has no clear set of characteristics.

"The American Temperament Test Society found that more than 85 percent of pit bull-type dogs have tested with above average temperaments (85.6 percent of Golden Retrievers and 85 percent of German Shepherds tested the same) … Furthermore, commenters argued that if DOT ultimately requires that all service animals be trained, there would be no need to ban pit bulls for fear of their behavior." - DOT final rule, 12/02/2020

Delta did not ban pit bulls due to properly trained pit bull service or support dogs. They banned them due to service dog fraud. "We must err on the side of safety … We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to [pit bull] service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta said in a statement to People in June 2018.

As we reported in April, the majority of airlines submitted comments stating they should be given discretion to make breed restrictions, as "carriers have ultimate responsibility for the safety of passengers and employees;" there are valid breed-type behavioral risks and certain breeds are unsuitable for service work; an "individualized assessment" conducted on land cannot predict what occurs in the air; and many countries have breed-specific laws that airlines must comply with.

"The Department also received many comments in support of allowing airlines to ban specific breeds of service animals. Airlines and airline organizations expressed concerns that not allowing airlines to restrict service animals based on breed could result in an unsafe flying environment and argued that airlines should have the discretion to choose whether to transport dogs that are capable of inflicting serious harm. A4A argued that not allowing airlines to restrict transport of service animals based on breed or generalized type of dog would increase the risk of animal misbehavior, which could result in serious injury to other passengers, crew, and service animals. They argued that certain breeds of dog, which account for a small minority of the total dog population, are not suited to function as trained service animals. They also noted that certain breeds raise legitimate fears from other passengers and animals, including other service dogs and handlers. American Airlines asserted that airplanes are a unique environment -- “they are crowded spaces with no opportunity for egress -- which could be triggering, and triggering an animal with large and powerful jaws and neck muscles that can be ferocious if ‘provoked,’ is a direct threat to the health and safety of our crews, passengers, and other service animals.” American Airlines further argued that there is precedent for adopting a more stringent approach in the airline environment because air travel differs from other places of public accommodation. Some airlines argued that individualized assessments are not enough. For example, Spirit Airline and Air Canada argued that some animals are more prone to aggression and may not exhibit such behavior until they are onboard an aircraft. Thus, even with the ability to refuse transportation to dogs that exhibit aggressive behavior, it may, in some instances, be too late by the time an animal that eventually exhibits aggressive behavior has boarded an aircraft." - DOT final rule, 12/02/2020

DOT's Inconsistencies

Consider the inconsistency presented by DOT thus far: Airline staff cannot visually identify a pit bull (not even veterinarians can, cites DOT), but airline personnel, who lack animal behavior expertise, can make an "individualized assessment" of a service animal's behavior -- how the dog will behave while flying in a crowded cabin at 35,000 feet -- while the dog is at the boarding gate. If a mistaken assessment is made with a pit bull service dog, the ramifications could be disastrous.

"Furthermore, the Humane Society states that an American Journal of Sociological Research study found that animal professionals, veterinarians, and animal control officers were unable to identify correctly dog breeds visually when compared with DNA evidence [in a study funded by the Pit Bull Lobby3], and that dogs with blocky heads and thick necks were commonly misidentified as pit bulls because there is no clear definition or set of characteristics…" - DOT final rule, 12/02/2020

Next, DOT rattles off multiple countries with strict entry bans for fighting breeds, but does not question why. Nor does DOT acknowledge that "airline employees are not veterinarians" and that assessment tests have a low predictive value, even when conducted by "experts." Instead of a breed ban, DOT states that "airlines are permitted to make an individualized assessment" of a service animal's behavior to determine if it "poses a direct threat" to the health or safety of others.

DOT concludes the breed discussion with a mixed-message and an empty promise to "monitor" studies that will likely never be funded or produced. While there may be a peer-reviewed study that examines the "best" breeds for service dogs, there will not be one that focuses on high-risk fighting breeds. It seems unlikely there would ever be an unbiased study about any dog breeds that examines the "heightened threat to the health and safety of people in close proximity" either.

"The Department understands the concerns raised about pit bulls and certain other breeds or types of dogs that have a reputation of attacking people and inflicting severe and sometimes fatal injuries. The Department also understands that there may be concerns that certain dogs may be dangerous, particularly dogs that have been bred to fight, which may be linked to a heightened degree of reactivity and aggression. The Department will continue to monitor published studies or accounts of dog behavior by breed or type and reports of incidents involving service dogs, and if there are compelling studies or data indicating that there are particular dog types or breeds that are established to pose a heightened threat to the health and safety of people in close proximity, we will revisit this issue." - DOT final rule, 12/02/2020

Faulty Logic Prevails

DOT compromised on fighting breeds based on error in logic. DOT states, "air transportation is unique because it involves transporting a large number of individuals in a confined space thousands of feet in the air with no means of egress." Then states, "there may be concerns that certain dogs may be dangerous, particularly dogs that have been bred to fight, which may be linked to a heightened degree of reactivity and aggression." Then fails to tie the two together.

Factor in the fact that 42 countries worldwide already have strict entry bans for fighting breeds, which DOT had to address separately (by allowing airlines traveling to those countries to ban those breeds in the cabin), along with the fact all three U.S. military divisions ban pit bulls from privatized housing and one is looking at a fallacy of major proportions. Recall DOT agreed to allow airlines to require leashing based on comments alone, none of which cited studies in the area.

"The use of fallacies is common when the speaker's goal of achieving common agreement is more important to them than utilizing sound reasoning. When fallacies are used, the premise should be recognized as not well-grounded, the conclusion as unproven (but not necessarily false), and the argument as unsound." - Wikipedia, 12/21/20

DOT did not err on the side of safety when traveling by air. They erred on the side of a tiny population that seeks out pit bulls as service dogs (fake or valid) to advocate for the breed. There is no other reason to choose a pit bull as a service dog. Even Tia Torres of Pit Bulls and Parolees admits this. Torres will not adopt one of her pit bulls to an individual "if your plans are to make it a service dog." Torres does not want one of her dogs placed into a situation that it is unqualified for.


Learn why breed matters in service dogs and why pit bull service dogs are a bad idea. Primarily, pit bull "breed advocates," not advocates for the disabled, promote pit bulls as service dogs.


Summary

U.S. airlines no longer need to freely transport emotional support animals (ESAs) in the cabin. This is a major victory for airlines, passengers and public safety. However, ESA fraud may migrate to psychiatric service animals (PSAs). Passengers with PSAs are no longer required to have a letter from a licensed mental health professional either. DOT will monitor this situation, but the final rule did not explain how. Only that the ACP office is currently accepting input on this issue.

Airlines can now also require the harnessing or leashing of service animals at all times while onboard -- even if this interferes with the service animal’s work. Another "self-evident" public safety measure that previously was not required, along with DOT reducing the number of service dogs per passenger from three to two. Passengers with service animals must also submit a signed form attesting to their dog's good behavior and health that comes with a Federal crime warning.

DOT emphasized numerous times that carriers are permitted to require a service animal fit on their handler's lap or within its handler's foot space (as even larger dogs are trained to fit into small spaces). DOT provided no "weight" for a "lap-held" service animal, but FAA regulations mandate that lap-held service animals can be "no larger than a lap-held child," (Section 3-3576) which is limited to about 30-pounds. This means that no service pit bull can ever be on a passenger's lap.

Despite these new safety measures, which are highly welcomed, DOT reasoned they were enough to stop passengers from bringing pit bulls onboard posing as service dogs, especially, posing as psychiatric service dogs. We believe DOT is mistaken. Real service dogs and people will pay the price too. Again, DOT did not err on the side of safety. They erred on the side of a tiny population that seeks out pit bulls as service dogs (both fake and valid) to advocate for the breed.

Answer Our Poll Question

Ronald Kevin Mundy, Jr., then a 24-year old active Marine Corps member, was holding a 50-pound psychiatric service animal (PSA) on his lap before the dog repeatedly attacked Jackson in the face. Mundy could not stop his dog from attacking the first or second time, nor did Mundy heed the warnings Jackson asked him multiple times before the attack: "Is your dog going to bite me?" Mundy claimed his PSA was "issued to him for support," but the military does not "issue" or even fund PSAs.4 After the attack, Mundy was seen at the gate area cradling the dog and weeping, repeatedly saying, "I know they're going to put him down." | Review the new DOT form

Voting is closed

Would Mundy have signed the new DOT form?


What is the real result of lying on the form? Though this is undetermined, it seems likely that all the owner will have to say is, "My dog has never done this before." Welcome to Dog Bite Law 101.


12nd Edition: Misunderstood Nanny Dogs? A Critical and Objective Analysis of the Facts & Myths Concerning Pit Bulls by J. Thomas Beasley. Pages 64-65. "Essentially, the test is a 12-minute walk through where the dog (with the owner ALWAYS at his side) is led through an “obstacle course” of sorts, where he is confronted with a variety of situations. The dog is graded on how he handles the different situations. However, it should first be noted that dogs are not graded in relation to all other dogs, but only other dogs of the same breed. Thus, a Pit Bull taking the test is judged relative to other Pit Bulls. And genetic traits of the dogs are taken into account. For example, if a ‘docile’ breed acts aggressively in response to certain stimuli, he would get points deducted, while if an ‘aggressive’ breed shows aggression at the same point, it would gain points! Not exactly a uniform indicator of temperament. Pit Bull advocates erroneously assert that higher scores on the test mean less aggression, while lower scores equal higher aggression. However, according to Carl Herkstroeter, one of the founders of the American Temperament Test Society, “[j]ust because a certain percentage of dogs in a certain breed fail, this does not necessarily indicate aggression... If you look at our statistics just from a perspective of aggression or non-aggression, they can be very misleading.” But this is exactly what pit bull advocates do."
2Each "trip" means each round-way trip. So if a passenger with disabilities takes three round trips to Denver in one year, he or she will be required to complete the DOT's animal behavior and health form three times.
3This particular study that was at least in part authored and funded by the Pit Bull Lobby was recently called out in American peer-reviewed literature, along with three other similar studies, for the authors' failure to disclose conflicts of interest. "As a result, some of the most influential literature has received authorship from persons who have a high risk of bias, yet this is not disclosed."
Voith VL, Trevejo R, Dowling-Guyer S, et al. Comparison of visual and DNA breed identification of dogs and inter-observer reliability. Am J Socio Res. 2013;3:17–29.

4In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stopped funding PSAs because the agency is authorized to only pay for evidence-based therapies. Since then, the VA has stopped and started a study regarding whether a service or emotional support dog can assist a veteran with PTSD multiple times. The results are still not out.

Related articles:
04/08:20: Traveling by Air with Service Animals - Public Comments from DogsBite.org
04/13/20: Traveling by Air with Service Animals - Comments from Airlines and Associations
08/31/15: Who Can Identify a Pit Bull? A Dog Owner of 'Ordinary Intelligence' Say Courts

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2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Attacks, Kills Man During a Loud Argument in Joliet, Illinois https://blog.dogsbite.org/2020/12/pit-bull-kills-man-during-loud-argument-joliet.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2020/12/pit-bull-kills-man-during-loud-argument-joliet.html#comments Fri, 18 Dec 2020 20:45:52 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=18801 A pit bull killed a 46-year old man during a loud argument in Joliet, Illinois. Pit Bull Kills Man Joliet, IL - A 46-year old man is dead after being attacked by a pit bull in Joliet, marking the sixth … Continue reading

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pit bull kills during loud argument
A pit bull killed a 46-year old man during a loud argument in Joliet, Illinois.

Pit Bull Kills Man
Joliet, IL - A 46-year old man is dead after being attacked by a pit bull in Joliet, marking the sixth fatal dog mauling in Illinois this year. The vicious attack occurred in the 1200 block of Arthur Avenue. A Joliet Fire ambulance crew was called to the home at 6:27 pm Thursday for a dog bite incident, according to fire chief Greg Blaskey. The man was found on the floor with no pulse. He was not breathing, and a Joliet police officer performed CPR on the victim, reports Patch.

"The patient was a victim of a dog mauling, from a single dog, and suffered traumatic cardiac arrest due to the injuries caused by dog bites," Blaskey said. "The victim did not live at this residence, but was there to visit." Joliet police were called to the home just after 6:20 pm. The man, identified as Erick J. Quinn of Joliet, was unresponsive and had sustained "extensive injuries to his body." Quinn was transported to Silver Cross Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to police, two people at the house "were involved in a loud argument. The dog, a 5-year-old pit bull terrier named Kaedo, became agitated by the argument. (Quinn) attempted to intervene to calm the dog, at which time the dog began repeatedly attacking the victim." Other people in the home tried to free Quinn from the pit bull, but were unsuccessful. "The dog eventually let go and the occupants were able to secure the dog prior to calling 911," police said.

The Chicago Tribune reports the dog became agitated when two women in the home Quinn was visiting started arguing over money. When Quinn stepped into calm the dog, which lived at the residence, the canine turned on him, Joliet Police Sgt. Dwayne English said. An autopsy conducted Friday showed that Quinn died of multiple injuries due to a dog attack. Police have not had previous contact at the home on Arthur Avenue for reports about the dog, English said.

Illinois Fatal Dog Maulings

Quinn's death marks the fourth fatal pit bull mauling in a 40-mile area within Will and Cook counties during an 11-month period. In February, a family pit bull attacked four family members, killing one, in Plainfield. That attack also began with an argument. In June, a woman was killed by her son's four pit bull-cane corso mixes in Country Club Hills. In July, 1-year old Marley Wilander was killed by a pit bull in the middle of the night during a Fourth of July party, also in Joliet.

Between May and August, canines killed two other individuals in Illinois. In May, 52-year old Lisa Urso was killed by her "Shorty bull," named "Blue Bear" that had a history of violence in Ingleside. In August, 61-year old Stephen Pemberton was killed by his stepson's two pit bulls in Belleville. Of all six Illinois victims, 83% were 25-years and older. 83% of these deaths involved pit bulls and 63% were carried out by family pit bulls. No criminal charges were brought after any death.

pit bull kills man during loud argument

During an 11-month period, pit bulls killed four people within a 40-mile area in Illinois.

loud argument

Yesenia Diaz claims to be the original owner of Kaito. The male pit bull had lived in at least three different homes, probably more like seven. Diaz also misrepresented the cause of death.

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: Illinois Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.

Related articles:
02/11/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Attacks Four Family Members, Killing One, in Illinois
06/05/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: 70-Year Old Woman Mauled to Death by Dogs in Illinois
07/06/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Kills Toddler During July 4th Party in Joliet, Illinois


Baseline reporting requirements:
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.

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Ann Marie Rogers: Animal Welfare Advocate, Animal Control Officer, Public Safety Advocate - Perspectives of Advocates https://blog.dogsbite.org/2020/12/ann-marie-rogers-animal-welfare-public-safety-perspectives-of-advocates.html https://blog.dogsbite.org/2020/12/ann-marie-rogers-animal-welfare-public-safety-perspectives-of-advocates.html#comments Wed, 16 Dec 2020 21:15:36 +0000 https://blog.dogsbite.org/?p=18772 Ann Marie Rogers of Responsible Citizens for Public Safety shares her background in animal welfare, animal control and public safety advocacy in our series: Perspectives of Advocates. My Background As I have always had a passion for animals, particularly dogs, … Continue reading

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Ann Marie Rogers of Responsible Citizens for Public Safety

Ann Marie Rogers of Responsible Citizens for Public Safety shares her background in animal welfare, animal control and public safety advocacy in our series: Perspectives of Advocates.


My Background

As I have always had a passion for animals, particularly dogs, I volunteered at a local humane society as a teenager and later worked at the Michigan Humane Society in various capacities -- adoption counselor, wildlife specialist, animal behaviorist, evaluator and veterinary technician -- while attending the University of Michigan. I continued there after graduation for some time. I loved the experience and education I received at MHS. Part of good "adoption counseling" was to list the correct breed/mix and discuss breed traits to ensure a good match for the dog and the family who may take them home. It was gratifying to find our wonderful shelter dogs an equally wonderful home. We educated people about animal welfare and preached responsibility and spay/neuter. We felt good making a positive difference in the lives of pets and people.

As a shelter evaluator, it was my job to temperament test the dogs and determine if they were suitable to be adopted into a new home. If a dog passed a temperament test, that was not a guarantee that it would never bite, but it gave us a pretty good indication. If a dog failed a temperament test by displaying aggression to people or other animals, they were humanely euthanized. I did that too. It was my job to decide which animals went up for adoption and which did not and to humanely euthanize those that did not. I did not have any moral objection to euthanasia as I knew the process was humane and in the best interest of the dog and the public. As shelter workers, we saw our share of cruelty cases and knew that there are far worse things for an animal than being put to sleep in the arms of a caring animal lover.

At that time in my area of suburban Detroit, pit bulls were not a popular pet. We did not see many of them turned into our Rochester shelter, but the few that did come in were automatically euthanized. It was the shelter policy at all three branches of Michigan Humane Society. The employees at the shelter understood the policy and the reasons behind it. We knew that pit bulls were bred specifically to kill other dogs and were used in dogfighting. We opposed dogfighting as animal cruelty and any abuse toward pit bulls or any animal, but pit bulls were too dangerous and unpredictable to place for adoption due to their genetics. We knew that you cannot train away inherent genetic aggression. The Detroit MHS cruelty investigators called their genetic propensity for unpredictable aggression "clicking on". We were dedicated to sending good family pets into the community for a win-win for our shelter dogs. We knew that dogs of any breed that had a propensity to bite people or those that were aggressive toward other animals should not be placed for adoption. We knew we could not "save them all" nor should we.

With my MHS education/experience, I later founded No Place Like Home Rescue of Michigan and have operated my nonprofit rescue for over 25 years. I practice the same criteria that was used at Michigan Humane when I worked there. NPLH has placed many wonderful dogs and cats into good homes over the years, and I am proud of this work. We do not place pit bulls, but we do have an outreach program through which we come in contact with a great deal of pit bulls and their owners. I can say from firsthand experience they are wildly overbred and abused. Pit bulls that were given up to NPLH by their owners were taken to a shelter or veterinary office for humane euthanasia. Through the years, my knowledge that pit bulls are unpredictably aggressive was reinforced on a daily basis as we came across animal victims of pit bull attacks and their bereaved owners.

I worked full time as an animal control officer under a police department and again saw animal victims of pit bull attacks. I have enforced state and local Dangerous Dog laws and Animal Cruelty statutes. Through my vast experience in the animal welfare field for over 30 years, and having witnessed and experienced pit bull attacks, it is my opinion that pit bulls do not make safe pets and that breed safety laws that regulate the ownership of pit bulls are essential to enhance public safety and reduce animal cruelty.

No Kill Advances In Michigan And Pit Bull Adoptions Trend

Over the last 10 years or so in Michigan, the "No Kill" philosophy has advanced in animal shelters and rescues and pit bulls are trending as "safe family pets". Even the large, private, Michigan Humane Society where I gained my foundation in animal behavior had done a 180 degree turn and began adopting pit bulls to the public, despite its prior conviction and policy held for over 40 years. Publicly funded animal control agencies are now sending pit bulls into the community too, which endangers public safety. The animal control agency in my county has knowingly sent many dangerous dogs into the community despite their mission statement to "protect public safety". This is irresponsible.

While it sounds on the surface like a kind idea, "no kill" is actually cruel and it endangers public safety. It is a grand, deceptive marketing scheme that preys on ignorant, kind-hearted members of the public that want to adopt a shelter pet. Through "No Kill" policies, dangerous dogs are promoted as safe, bite histories are hidden, breeds are mislabeled, behavioral issues are masked with drugs and flowery descriptions and geriatric animals with illness are passed off as healthy, middle-aged pets. The movement is based in deception and greed ... It's wrong on multiple levels.

I became painfully aware of this trend through my rescue work. In 2016, a shelter in Detroit, operated by a friend, that still prioritizes public safety was under attack for having a "high kill rate". Protesters came to the shelter with nasty signs and harassed customers. The protesters also ran a social media campaign condemning this shelter. Their goal was to shut the shelter down by drying up their donations and frightening them into closing. The shelter was experiencing "Cancel Culture" before the term was widely known. This shelter is in a particularly poor area of Detroit and subsequently the majority of animals that they take in are pit bulls, very ill animals, or aggressive animals, which are unadopatable. The privately funded shelter has every right to operate as they see fit and as they have for over 80 years. I publicly defended this shelter and its policies and publicly advocated for breed safety laws. I soon found myself and my organization under fire by the "No Kill" pit bull advocate protesters, and they tried to cancel me too.

I received literally thousands of vile, obscene death threats, bomb threats, threats of rape and violence and other hate mail via social media, telephone and email. I contacted the local sheriff, the Michigan State Police and the FBI. Some of the threats came from people I knew through rescue work! Other rescue groups began to send threats and incite violence toward me through social media posts. It has been relentless for years and continues to a lesser degree still today. It was shocking and exhausting to field thousands of vile threats on a daily basis. I began to do research in hopes of finding help for my shelter friends and myself and found DogsBite.org and breed safety advocates. I read all the research posted on the site and was astounded to find how many people had been killed by dogs, particularly pit bulls. I always knew pit bulls were dangerous and were bred to kill other dogs, which is bad enough, but I was shocked at the number of people who are severely disfigured, dismembered, disabled or dead because someone else chose a pit bull as a pet! Prior to that point, I had heard of one little child, Xavier Strickland, who was killed by four pit bulls in Detroit in 2015. Despite my knowledge of the danger pit bulls present to other animals, I thought those pit bulls must have been starved to kill and eat a human being. Now I know that starvation is not a prerequisite for a pit bull to kill and consume a human being and that a pit bull kills someone every 10 days. Now I know that pit bulls are the #1 canine killer of people, pets and livestock and that they kill more than all other dog breeds combined. It is a stunning revelation, especially since pit bulls are commonly seen in every neighborhood.

Between discovering much information on DogsBite.org about the frequency and severity of attacks by pit bulls on people and beloved pets, along with the continued threats of harm I received from pit bull advocates, my resolve to stand up to bullies while protecting the public was strengthened. My new advocate friends came in like the Cavalry and did battle for me using their wit, facts and data, dispelling myths on social media. I will always be grateful for their swift action during a time when I was under extreme attack. At that moment I became a public safety advocate against dog attacks. I wanted to help keep people and pets from experiencing a devastating pit bull attack. I wanted to promote breed specific legislation in an effort to save lives.

In the same year, Michigan pit bull advocates were promoting a preemption bill that would remove the authority of local units of government from enacting or enforcing breed specific legislation because it "discriminates" against pit bulls, which they claim is a "misunderstood" breed. "Make Michigan Next" was their slogan in the hopes to inflict bloodsport dogs on the populace. That violent people like violent dogs has been proven in psychological studies.

Evolution To Responsible Citizens for Public Safety, RC4PS.org

Knowledge is power. I used mine to begin Responsible Citizens for Public Safety (RC4PS.org) to advocate for public safety. I joined with DogsBite.org, NationalPitBullVictimAwareness.org, DaxtonsFriends.com, DogBiteLaw.com and Animals24-7.org to help spread the truth.

I became friends with victims of pit bull attacks and their families. I know their stories, the depth of their grief and the extent of their PTSD after losing their loved ones or their own body parts through a brutal dog attack. I grieve with them. I advocate for them. This is my passion and my purpose.

Responsible Citizens for Public Safety promotes breed safety laws (BSL) which enhance public safety and reduce animal cruelty. We write letters on behalf of victims to legislators in cities across the USA and Canada. We offer presentations of facts and data for boards and commissions to consider.

We combat Michigan preemption laws, which would strip the authority of local units of government from protecting their residents against pit bull attacks by giving public testimony before House and Senate Committees. To date, we have been successful in stopping BSL preemption bills during three legislative cycles. We will continue to fight against the disinformation promoted by sponsors of these preemption bills.

We have presented facts and data to Generals, Senators, State Representatives, City Council Members, Township Trustees, Doctors, Health Care workers, Attorneys, Parents and other organizations as well as the general public about the significant threat that pit bulls and their promoters present to public safety.

RC4PS.org has created brochures with relevant facts and data about dangerous dog attacks that are available to download on the site that we use to educate the public.

We held a beautiful Tribute to Victims of pit bull attacks on the steps of the Michigan Capitol Building in October 2019 for National Pit Bull VICTIM Awareness Day, which attracted the media and impacted legislators.

RC4PS.org hosted a Zoom conference in 2020 featuring Colleen Lynn of DogsBite.org and Mia Johnson of National Pit Bull Victim Awareness to discuss the status of BSL in the US at the local, state and federal level as well as resources for victims of dog attacks, which can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

We believe in local control. We believe that communities should have the right to make decisions affecting their citizens, particularly in issues of safety.

The mission of Responsible Citizens for Public Safety is to SAVE LIVES by promoting canine awareness and educating people about the significant threat to public safety presented by the trend to keep pit bull dogs as family pets. We expose the propaganda being promoted by humane organizations. We equip BSL activists. We engage legislators and encourage them to promote public safety through legislating Breed Safety Laws for the state of Michigan and we work toward BSL in every state in the USA. We continue to work toward strong BSL by presenting hard facts and data that PROVE that pit bulls should never be promoted as safe family pets.

We welcome those who wish to join us in our mission and make it yours.

Related articles:
12/04/20: Perspectives of Advocates: We've Heard It All Before! by The Old Timer
11/27/20: Perspectives of Advocates: Pit Bull Lobby and Tobacco Institute by Lucy Muir
11/17/20: Perspectives of Advocates: My Take on Pit Bulls by Carol Miller

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