2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Large Pit Bull Kills Woman on Chicago's Far South Side

Karen Brown - large pit bull kills woman chicago
Karen Brown, known as "Punchi", was killed by a large pit bull in South Deering.

Dog's Owners Flee
UPDATE 08/06/18: An autopsy Sunday determined that Karen Brown, 57, died from multiple injuries inflicted by a dog. The manner of death was ruled accidental, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Brown was viciously attacked by a loose pit bull on Saturday in the 10100 block of South Calhoun Avenue on Chicago's Far South Side. According to neighbors, the pit bull was kept in an unfenced backyard by owners who kept multiple dogs in crates.

The owners of the pit bull vacated their home and fled after their dog brutally attacked and killed Karen Brown, according to neighbors.

A community vigil was held Sunday at the scene of the deadly dog mauling. Over 100 people attended. Friends said that Brown was on her way to a home on the street to start house sitting when she was attacked. In addition to at least one previous attack, residents said the pit bull had long been a problem in the neighborhood. When police officers responded Saturday, a hail of gunfire was heard in the neighborhood. Officers fired up to 30 bullets at the pit bull, killing it.

08/04/18: Pit Bull Kills Woman
Chicago, IL - A 57-year old woman is dead after being mauled to death by a large pit bull, Chicago police said. The victim was in the 10100 block of South Calhoun Avenue in the South Deering neighborhood at 12:25 pm when the dog attacked, biting her neck and all over her body. A pair of police officers shot and killed the animal after it lunged at them. She was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Police continue to investigate.

ABC 7 reports that residents knew the victim as a "jack of all trades" type in the neighborhood, like cutting grass and going to get groceries for neighbors. She could always be counted on to offer a helping hand. She was about to cut grass when the pit bull violently attacked her. Chicago police and animal control officers remain at the scene of the deadly dog attack. Currently, officers are going door-to-door trying to find out who owned the pit bull and how the animal got loose.

"I would have never thought … that nobody -- my family -- it hit home. It hit home. That she lost her life because of a pit bull." - Laniece Jones

In it's evening broadcast, ABC 7 interviewed relative Laniece Jones who believes that special precautions should be in place for pit bulls. "If you have a pit bull, it should be put away, locked up -- something," she said. An unidentified neighbor said his friend Rick was attacked a week and a half ago by the same dog. "I don't know how [the owner] manages to get away with it, but he does. They should be held accountable for that. They really should. That's a murder," he said.

Unfortunately, Illinois has the worst track record in the country when it comes to filing criminal charges after a fatal dog attack. From 2005 to 2017, canines killed 16 people in the state. Pit bulls were responsible for 81% (13) of these deaths. No charges were brought in any of these cases, including the death of James Nevils III. The dog's owner was issued two infractions. The child's grandfather was appalled, "My grandson’s gone forever, and all you get is two tickets?"

CBS Chicago confirmed the victim's name is Karen Brown. Her nickname was "Punchi." Family members say there will be a vigil at the scene of the fatal dog mauling Sunday at 6:00 pm.

Chicago police investigate after larege pit bull kills woman

large pit bull kills woman vigil

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

Related articles:
12/12/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Mauled to Death by Her Pet Pit Bull in Alsip, Illinois
05/29/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: 5-Year Old Boy Fatally Attacked by Pit Bull in Chicago
04/29/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: 4-Year Old Girl Killed by Family Pit Bulls in Bloomington

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.

2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Toddler, Injure Babysitter in Philadelphia's Port Richmond Section

jaevon torres killed by three pit bulls
Jaevon Torres, 2-years old, was mauled to death by three pit bulls on August 1.

Child Identified
UPDATE 08/03/18: On Friday, the city Medical Examiner's Office identified the boy who was killed by pit bulls in a rowhouse on Agate Street as Jaevon Torres. The cause of death was determined to be "multiple blunt and penetrating injuries" and the manner of death was ruled accidental. On Wednesday, Jaevon was savagely attacked by three pit bulls in the home while under the care of a babysitter. There were two additional pit bulls in the home that were caged during the attack.

"I couldn't sleep. I was up all night. I was at the station. I threw up twice. It's just horrifying -- scary." - Neighbor and witness of the attack, Jason Rash

One of the adults in the home who was trying to protect the boy was 27-year old Rebecca Olan, a police source told Philly.com. Olan lived in the home, is the owner of the five pit bulls and was babysitting the child at the time of the attack. Olan was the boy's godmother, but not a relative. The boy and his mother lived in another location. Upstairs in the home at the time of the attack was Olan's 16-year old cousin and a 25-year old woman. Police questioned all three of them.

Earlier news reports noted that there was no furniture on the first floor of the rowhouse -- just five dog cages. Police Commissioner Richard Ross even stated to Fox 29, "In fact, the house wasn't in disarray other than the cages on the inside. It's a bit of a mystery to us." The question of why Olan had five caged pit bulls has yet to be answered. The District Attorney's Office indicated Friday that no decision would be made regarding criminal charges until the death investigation is complete.

08/02/18: Criminal Charges Unlikely
Last night, police were called to a rowhouse on Agate Street after reports that multiple pit bulls were attacking a toddler. Dramatic cellphone video shows the moments police officers arrived and began open firing through the front doorway before entering the home to rescue the young child. "Their main concern was to get to the 2-year old child who was unconscious, bleeding from his head, face, body, both arms and legs," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said.

Police fired seven shots at the pit bulls, killing one and injuring two others. There were five pit bulls in the household. "The dogs had blood all over them from biting the baby. They had blood all over them," neighbor Jason Rash told NBC 10. An unidentified female neighbor said the child's babysitter was bloody and in shock. "She had blood all over her shirt. She looked really distraught, in shock. We were all crying. This innocent baby got chewed up by some pit bulls," she said.

"It's just horrible all around. It breaks our heart to see the poor baby was injured and ultimately killed in this fashion." - Police Commissioner Richard Ross

Ross said that three pit bulls were involved in the attack; two other pit bulls were caged. The 23-year old babysitter, the child's aunt, was not seriously hurt in the attack, Ross said. A 36-year old and a 16-year old were also inside the home during the attack. All of the pit bulls belonged to residents of the home, Ross said. There was no evidence of dogfighting. A woman in the home let one dog out of its cage prior to the attack. Two others got loose at that time as well, Ross said.

"[Police officers] made a valiant attempt to get in and save the baby under some very difficult circumstances," Ross said. "With some very powerful animals charging you. And they did the best they could." The Special Victims Unit is investigating whether there was neglect or endangerment involved. "Right now, we don't have any obvious signs of that," Ross said. Neighbors on Agate Street said they had often seen the young boy "visiting family" at the two-story rowhouse.

08/01/18: Pit Bulls Kill Toddler
Philadelphia, PA - A 2-year old boy is dead and a 23-year old woman was injured after being attacked by two pit bulls in the city's Port Richmond section. Police were called to a home in the 3000 block of Agate Street about 5:15 pm, where the dogs were attacking a toddler. When police arrived, the pit bulls were actively attacking both victims. Police open fired, killing two of the pit bulls and injuring a third. Police said there were a total of five or six dogs inside the home.

The boy was transported to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in extremely critical condition, where he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced dead at 6:05 pm. The female victim was transported to Temple University Hospital. The severity of her injuries remains unknown. Initial news reports say the woman was the child's aunt and was babysitting the boy at the time. The child's identity has not yet been released. Police continue to investigate his mauling death.

Late Evening Updates

WPVI-TV reports that Special Victims Unit is now investigating the deadly attack to see if charges are warranted against the homeowners for keeping five pit bulls in the home where the attack took place. Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small told WPVI that when police arrived, they could see the child lying in the middle of the living room floor and said, "the dogs were around the child attacking the child." Thus police took immediate action, open firing on the pack of pit bulls.

"The main concern was to get to the child who was completely bleeding from the head, face body, both arms, and legs," Chief Insp. Small said. Medics rushed the boy to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, where he died about a half hour later. Neighbor Jason Rash said he tried to help. "All of a sudden I see the dogs plucking at the baby and the aunt and all of a sudden they kept telling me to go in and get the baby, but you can't because they're surrounded by all these dogs."

Multi-Pit Bull Households

In February, we examined the "Single Dog Shrinking Metric" in fatal dog attacks since the 1980s. From 2005 to 2017, 47% of all deadly attacks involved multiple dogs, up from 30% during the CDC years (1979-1988). Attacks by pit bulls involving more than one dog contributed to 72% of the multi-dog subset. Furthermore, over this 13-year period, 51% of all fatal pit bull attacks (146 of 284) involved more than one dog, vs. 38% (56 of 149) of fatal attacks not involving pit bulls.

In our Discussion Notes post, we also talked about the likelihood of serious injuries or death when more than one pit bull is involved in an attack upon a human. Rather than a simple multiplying effect (i.e., x, x + x = 2x, 2x + x = 3x), increasing the number of pit bulls would be an "exponential effect" (i.e., 1 = x1, 2 = x2, 3 = x3), according to Dr. Peter L. Borchelt, PhD, who testified as an expert witness for the City and County of Denver when it defended its pit bull ban in 2005.

In the Philadelphia attack, it remains unclear where the dogs were normally kept. Were they kept in cages or a room and "somehow got out?" That point is moot -- there were five pit bulls in the home attacking the child and his babysitter. Jason Rash said it the best, "they kept telling me to go in and get the baby, but you can't because they're surrounded by all these dogs." To stack the "death chips" even higher, a mere babysitter was supposed to ward off a pack of vicious pit bulls.

pit bulls kill toddler port richmond Philadelphia

pit bulls kill toddler port richmond Philadelphia

Jaevon Torres - pit bulls kill toddler philadelphia

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google State Map: Pennsylvania Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Related articles:
05/25/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: 6-Year Old Boy Killed by Rescued Pit Bull in Blair County
02/28/18: Discussion Notes - 2017 U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Statistics - DogsBite.org
11/24/17: Man Dies in Philadelphia After Being Attacked by Four Pit Bulls on Thanksgiving Day

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.

Severe Attack in Omaha: Another Beautiful Face Destroyed by a Family Pit Bull in a Multi-Pit Bull Household

Pit Bull Owner Arrested and Charged after the Attack

beautiful face destroyed - omaha pit bull attack
Omaha Police Lt. Jake Ritonya speaking to WOWT News on Friday, July 27.

Severe Facial Attack
Omaha, NE - On Friday about 6:00 pm, Omaha police responded to a home in the 4700 block of Laurel Avenue after a report that a child was being attacked by a family pit bull. The 9-year old girl suffered severe facial injuries in the attack. As police carried the girl from the home, the pit bull continued to try to attack her. The fire department had a catch pole they used to detain the pit bull, a large 2-year old female named "Layla" that was reportedly in heat at the time of the attack.

"This one was rather difficult to see her in the hospital. I haven't seen anything quite like that in my career." - Omaha Police Lieutenant Jake Ritonya

There were three pit bulls in the home -- a multi-pit bull household. Reports Friday stated the attack erupted when the child went to "pick up a knocked over trashcan." As the dog savaged the child's face, one of her siblings ran to a neighbor who called 911. The young girl was rushed to Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition. At least three children lived in the home. On Saturday, the Omaha World-Herald reported that the owner of the pit bull was arrested.

"There were three pit bulls running around. It was kind of a crazy, chaotic scene," Lt. Jake Ritonya said. Initial reports also stated the victim suffered skull fractures. We located the pit bull owner late Friday, but were unable to confirm this until today. An updated report from the World-Herald (though still time stamped for the 28th) confirmed the dog's owner is Jerrica Jackson, 24, who is also a resident of the home. On July 25, Jackson posted a breeding advertisement of her pit bull.

A police report identified the victim as Kahliyah Lloyd. Her condition has been upgraded from critical to serious condition. Kahliyah's mother is listed on the police report as Shamiah Campos, who also lives at the Laurel Avenue residence with her children. The arrest charges for Jerrica Jackson includes: suspicion of harboring a dangerous animal, failing to have an animal license and two counts of lack of vaccinations and failing to have dangerous animal liability insurance.

In 2008, the City of Omaha passed a breed-specific ordinance that requires multiple fighting breeds to carry $100,00 in liability insurance.

By Tuesday, Jackson had locked down her Facebook page. But over the weekend, we captured screenshots. Jackson's plan early on was to breed Layla (the offspring of King Leonidus X Lexi).1
Just two days before the brutal attack, Jackson was advertising upcoming puppies starting at $1,500 with KaneO, an exaggerated, gargoyle Bully type owned by LaStephan Brown Sr. who likely also has failed to license, vaccinate and insure the multiple pit bull dogs in his home.

Beautiful Face Destroyed by a Pit Bull

We get so tired of beautiful young faces being destroyed by these dogs. Especially when the pit bull "suddenly" unleashes explosive, unprovoked aggression at the age of two -- when the dog reaches sexual maturity and the most common time for these devastating attacks. This "tiring" is amplified by backyard pit bull "designer" breeders producing XL, XXL pit bulls for cash, all while these owners thumb their noses at local ordinances and unwanted pit bulls fill up city shelters.

The World-Herald reports that Lt. Jake Ritonya, who was on scene Friday and at the emergency room, said that doctors and nurses appeared to be shaken by the extent of the girl's bite injuries, which were apparently confined to one side of her face and scalp. "The looks on their faces said it all," Ritonya said. The Nebraska Humane Society seized all three pit bulls in the Laurel Avenue home. The attacker, and "planned breeding" pit bull Layla, is expected to be euthanized.

Jackson's mother, Jessica, said the attack was "totally out of character" for Layla, ignoring the reality of a 2-year old pit bull in heat. She said that Kahliyah "looks better than I expected" and is "going to have some scars." She added that, "we're looking forward to her getting healed and being the smart, beautiful girl she's always been." It's unknown what the fate is for the other two pit bulls. Possibly when Kahliyah is released from the hospital, they will greet her in her home.

beautiful face destroyed by a pit bull, omaha attack

beautiful face destroyed by a pit bull, omaha attack

The pit bull "Layla" that savaged the little girl's face is the offspring of ManMade Kennel's King Leonidus and Lexi from a late 2016 litter. ManMade Kennels claims they create "Pit Bulls Made for Families" on their  corporate website. They also claim: "Our dogs are temperament bred for families, we DO NOT breed HA (Human Aggressive) dogs AT ALL" (emphasis by ManMade). If that were true, they would no longer breed King Leonidus or Lexi, who produced a child mauler.

1Jackson misspells the sire's name multiple times as does BullyPedia.

Related articles:
10/10/16: Level 1 Trauma Dog Bite Studies in All Regions Report Pit Bulls Highest Prevalence
06/24/15: Anchorage Pit Bull Attack: The Mechanics of a "Classic" Unprovoked Pit Bull Attack
03/26/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Pit Bull Kills 4-Year Old Girl in Houma, Louisiana

2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Child with Life-Threatening Injuries from Dog Attack Dies in Jacksonville

life-threatening injuries, pit bull mix
Jaelah Smith, 6, died after suffering life-threatening injuries from a dog attack.

Child Did Not Survive
UPDATE: 07/18/18: Family members confirmed late Tuesday that 6-year old Jaelah Smith died after suffering life-threatening injuries from a dog attack Sunday morning. She was attacked in the neck by a pit bull-mix her family had been dog sitting while its owner was away on vacation. The dog did not belong to her family. Jaelah had been on life support systems since the attack at Wolfson Children's Hospital. She is survived by her two siblings, ages 7 and 9-years old.

"Unfortunately my princess is no longer with us. I would like for you guys to keep my family in your prayers." - Devin Holcomb, the child's father

More than one dog was in the home at the time of the attack. Authorities removed a second dog, a young rottweiler, from the home Sunday as well. The Florida Department of Children and Families is also investigating the attack, reports News4Jax. The owner of the pit bull-mix has not been identified. It is also unknown how long the little girl's family had been pet sitting the dog. Jaelah Smith is the 220th child killed by a pit bull since 1980, when the pit bull problem began to emerge.

Associate Medical Examiner Peter Gillespie said the child died from lack of oxygen and blood to her brain, as well as sharp force injuries to a major vein and artery on her neck, reports The Florida Times-Union. "She suffered irreversible brain injury," Gillespie said. He also said he was unsure how many times she was bitten. (That statement typically indicates multiple, overlapping bites after a repeated attack.) She was pronounced brain dead shortly before 7 pm Tuesday.

07/17/18: Child Remains on Life Support
Today a child nearly killed by a dog Sunday was identified as 6-year old Jaelah Smith. A pit bull-mix her family was watching for friends attacked her in the neck. She was unresponsive when Fire-Rescue arrived. Jaelah was transported to Memorial Hospital in a "severe life-threatening" condition, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. She was later transferred to Wolfson Children's Hospital. Jaelah's 7 and 9-year old siblings were not harmed in the attack.

The Florida Times-Union helped explain (potentially) news footage taken Sunday that shows a young rottweiler dog being seized by authorities. Times-Union spoke to neighbor Mattie Hightower, who said her granddaughter called 911 after the attack and "helped scrub blood" off the driveway after emergency personnel rushed Jaelah away. Hightower also said the child's mother, Sheree Smith, is a good mother and "keeps her own dog, a rottweiler, in a cage when necessary."

It is fairly routine for authorities to seize all dogs in a home after an extreme attack. Times-Union also spoke to Emily Patterson-Kane, an American Veterinary Medical Association animal welfare scientist. She described a classic pit bull attack, "amplify rapidly and cannot be easily de-escalated" and "it doesn't take much for things to go wrong," but refused to attribute these breed-specific attack characteristics to them. It is a distortion that all breeds attack in this manner.

07/16/18: Child Suffers Critical Injuries
Jacksonville, FL - Police confirm that a 6-year old girl suffered life-threatening injuries after being attacked in the neck by a pit bull-mix. On Sunday at 10:17 am, police responded to the 2700 block of Herrick Drive. The child was unresponsive at the scene. Jacksonville Fire-Rescue immediately transported the child to a local hospital. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office issued a statement Sunday stating that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit is handling the investigation.

"Possible trauma red. Patient is not breathing. Patient attacked on the neck from dog." - Webcastify. Jacksonville Fire Audio Archives, July 15, 2018

Multiple dogs were in the home at the time. The attacking dog was not a family pet, states the release. The child's family had been dog sitting the pit bull-mix for someone who was away on vacation. There were other children and a parent in the home at the time of the attack. No information was provided Sunday about how many other dogs were in the home. Jacksonville Animal Services confiscated at least one dog from the home and placed it into quarantine.

This attack follows a deadly dog mauling in south Florida back in May. Liana Valino, 9-months old, was attacked and killed by a family pit bull while under the care of her paternal grandmother at her father's home. The grandmother told a Spanish-speaking 911 translator, "My son's dog killed the 9-month-old girl. I locked the dog in the bathroom and the baby is dead in the living room." The father owned three pit bulls, all related. The culprit was the male offspring, about 3 or 4 years old.

Both attacks involve multi-dog households, a person "watching" the attacking dog other than its owner and a devastating attack on a child. In the Jacksonville case, it is unknown if the child had previous experience with the dog. It is also unknown how long the family had been dog sitting. In cases of fatal dog maulings, all of these factors heighten the risk of an attack and children are the primary victims. As of Monday early afternoon, the condition of the Jacksonville child is unknown.

pit bull not quarantined life-threatening injuries

jaelah drawing pit bull attack

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

Related articles:
06/07/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Infant Killed by Pit Bull While Under Care of Grandmother
08/23/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Man Killed by Dogs in Jacksonville, Florida

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.

Why Breed Matters in Service Dogs and Why Pit Bull Service Dogs are a Bad Idea

pit bull service dogs are a bad idea

DogsBite.org - After Delta Air Lines issued a new policy on June 20, limiting emotional support dogs to one per person and banning pit bulls as service and support dogs, we reviewed top service dog organizations and their selected breed types. These dog breeds are overwhelmingly Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Labrador-golden mixes and standard poodles. Primarily, pit bull "breed advocate" groups, one who failed miserably, are pushing "pit bull service dogs."

Accreditation by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is the highest standard of accreditation for service dog organizations. We selected portions of website statements from accredited groups and candidates of ADI accreditation about why breed choice matters in service dog work. We also selected informational statements from other sources that explain why pit bulls, guarding and protection breeds are poor choices for service dogs, especially psychiatric service dogs.

Common Themes About Pit Bull Service Dogs

  1. Decide what is more important to you -- having a service dog to help you, or having a particular breed because you want to be a breed advocate.
  2. Guarding, protection and fighting breeds are poor choices because many handlers with disabilities are not able to physically restrain them.
  3. Pit bulls do not show temperament until adulthood, about the age of two. If one year in training has already been invested and that dog "defaults" to its hereditary breed traits -- dog aggression -- it becomes unusable.
  4. Pit bulls and bully breeds create a social barrier instead of a neutral bridge between a disabled person and the community. Getting a service dog is supposed to be about making your life easier not more difficult.

What truly lies at the heart of Delta's new policy, however, is reflected in their statement: "untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk." Tia Torres of Pit Bulls and Parolees addresses this on her adoption page in clear terms. 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 her dogs placed into a situation that the dog may be unqualified for.

We will not adopt our dog to you, if your plans are to make it a "service dog". With too many people fraudulently obtaining "service dog vests" or fake "service dog trainers", we do not want our dog put into a situation that he/she may not be qualified for. - Adoption Process, Villalobos Rescue Center

Torres issuing this condition in July 2017 speaks volumes about the number of her fans hoping to abuse loopholes in the ADA and Air Carrier Access Act for breed advocacy purposes. Delta's new policy is aimed directly at these types, as well as the narcissistic types, such as Kimberly Ferrell of Silverton, whose registered service dog, a "bull terrier-mix," attacked three people in one year and the owner of an emotional support pit bull in Killeen that attacked two people in nine days.

Why Breed Choice Matters

This section highlights why breed choice matters in service work. We start with a quote from ADI that explains why a service dog should not be protective. Handi-Dogs Inc., next explains a fact about pit bulls that few, if any, animal shelters explain to an adopter: "Pit types can be genetically dog aggressive, and this may not show in the dog's temperament until it becomes an adult." Handi-Dogs also reminds that genetic breed characteristics cannot be "trained out" of a pit bull.

Assistance Dogs International - Protection/Working Breeds

An Assistance Dogs job is to make a disabled individual more able, not to protect them. The dog's presence is a natural deterrent. Because disabled people take their Assistance Dogs into public places and many are not able to physically restrain their dogs, the Assistance Dog must be safe for the public. Many dogs, especially working breeds, will sense their owner's disability and their vulnerability. These dogs can learn on their own to protect at inappropriate times. This can be compounded by an individual who doesn't recognize that they are unconsciously encouraging this behavior.

Handi-Dogs, Inc - Accredited by ADI

Pit Bull types (American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Pit mixes) are not recommended for service dog training for several reasons: 1). Terrier breeds can difficult to train for service work if the dog has the typical independent terrier temperament. Do not assume that the dog you choose will be the exception; 2). Pit types can be genetically dog aggressive, and this may not show in the dog's temperament until it becomes an adult. If this develops after you have invested a year in training, you will not be able to use the dog in public; 3). You are training a service dog to help make your life easier, not more difficult by facing municipal breed specific legislation, breed bans in rental housing, additional insurance costs, and public access challenges.

Training a service dog will require a commitment of time, energy, and money. All dogs are individuals, but do not assume that the individual dog you choose will be the exception to genetic breed characteristics, or that you can just "train it out of him." Choosing a breed with the genetic temperament for service work will greatly affect your success. You must decide what is more important to you -- having a service dog to help you, or having a particular breed because you like the way they look / had one as a child / want to be a breed advocate.

Clear Path for Veterans - Candidacy for ADI
Not all breeds are recommended for service dog training. Bully breeds or mixes can be a social barrier in providing a neutral bridge between the Veteran and the community. Bully breeds include but may not be limited to: American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, American Bulldog and Bull Mastiff. Clear Path does not take a stance against bully breeds; however, these breeds are not recommended for our owner/trainer service dog program.

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners - IAADP

Breeds classified as Guard Dogs, Flock Guardians or Fighting Dogs have aggression related breed traits that are particularly worrisome. Assistance dog partners who do not have previous experience handling a dog with a strong Protection drive, a fierce Territorial instinct or a hereditary dog aggression problem should not attempt a partnership with one of these breeds. Those who do choose to work with one of these breeds must respect the darker side of its nature, learn how to avoid triggering it and never ignore the potential for a misunderstanding. Occasionally one hears of a Doberman or German Shepherd or a Rottweiler that seems to lack the normal hereditary breed traits that earned such dogs the reputation of being formidable guard dogs. But atypical specimens like that are extremely difficult to find, nor do they come with a lifetime guarantee. Realistically, your odds on a pup from those breeds growing up to be an adult that lacks his breed's guard dog instinct is very slim. Hereditary breed traits should always be considered part of the package when making a breed choice.1

Service Dog Society - Information Source

Do not choose breeds like Huskies, Rottweilers, Bull Breeds, or other breeds that are notoriously hard to train. You want to set yourself up for success. Successfully training a service dog is hard enough. It's crucial that you find a breed that matches your ability level to help stack the odds in your favor...

If you're looking for a psychiatric prospect that narrows down your options quite a bit. You don't want any breed prone to developing protective instincts (think German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Livestock Guardians, and other breeds known for their protective nature). The trouble with protective breeds is that often that instinct doesn't kick in until the dog has matured. Therefore, you could put around 2 years of training into a dog just to have an otherwise amazing service dog in training become extremely protective and subsequently have to be washed out. You'd end up losing two years of time and money and gain a lot of heartbreak. It simply isn't worth the risk.

"Breed Advocacy" and Pit Bull Service Dogs

This section is an extension of the "psychiatric prospect" aspect and highlights a real world example of a group's attempt to train rescue pit bulls for psychiatric service dog work. In their own words, they describe why pit bulls are unsuitable as psychiatric service dogs due to "reflecting the symptoms of their handler's PTSD." They also note that "the longer the team spends together, the more the dog's training would 'unravel' and revert to the genetic disposition of the dog."

Pit Bulls 4 Patriots was launched in 2011 as a specialty group only training rescued pit bulls to help military vets with PTSD. However, in less than a year, their pilot program fully broke down due to problems with the pit bull breed. By 2012, the group resurfaced under the name, Hounds 4 Heroes, specializing in only using rescued greyhounds to help military vets with PTSD. Both sites are now offline, but we captured their "explanation" before they shut down Pit Bulls 4 Patriots.

What began as a "breed advocacy" service dog stunt in 2011, ended in near disaster. The pit bulls "sensitivity" puts them at risk of becoming "unbalanced by constantly reflecting the symptoms of their handler's PTSD," they determined. Because most of their dogs "washed out," the group was then stuck with pit bulls they could not adopt out. "The founders' home became filled with dogs and we were thus unable to take in new service dog candidates to train," states the group.

On the dog side we learned a lot from the very capable, loving and loyal pit bull terrier type dogs in our program. It became apparent that this is perhaps more difficult for the dog than any other type of service because of the extreme emotional/energy state of the handler with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have found that over a period of time the dogs' sensitivity, which is normally a wonderful trait, puts them at risk of becoming unbalanced by constantly reflecting the symptoms of their handler's PTSD. We became clear that we need dogs who are able to provide calm in any situation rather than matching the handler's feelings. Also, it is critical that PTSD service dogs can adapt and recover quickly from stress, and to be resilient enough to do that again and again.

All service dog programs have washouts -- really great dogs who need to be diverted to a different path. A great deal of time, energy and money went into finding new situations for our wonderful pit bull terrier "washouts". The founders' home became filled with dogs and we were thus unable to take in new service dog candidates to train. We realized our program needs to work with dogs for whom we can quickly and easily find a permanent home or a foster home when need be. - Pit Bulls 4 Patriots, captured January 5, 2012 (www.pitbulls4patriots.org)

The founders provided more information after they started Hounds 4 Heroes. Blogger Craven Desires captured these statements in a 2015 post. While working with greyhounds, the trainers discovered they did "not have to train over any strong genetically bred instincts and drives (such as protection/guarding, being territorial, herding, dog aggression, or hunting)" and that the genetic instincts and drive the dog defaults to (fighting breed vs. greyhound) is a critical matter of safety.

When living with someone who has fluctuating weak energy and leadership skills, such as anyone with a psychiatric disorder, a dog will revert to its genetically bred instincts and/or to default behaviors learned in puppyhood. Skilled training can override weaknesses in temperament and high-drive instinctual behaviors, but our PTSD handlers will not be able to maintain training over the top of these things. The longer the team spends together, the more the dog's training would "unravel" and revert to the genetic predisposition of the dog. Examples of this would be an unbalanced German shepherd who falls back inappropriately to his instinct to guard and bite when threatened, or a herding dog who neurotically begins nipping at the feet and heels of anything that moves around his person. - Hounds 4 Heroes, captured February 12, 2015 (www.h4htb.org)

Breeds Chosen by Accredited Organizations

This section highlights dog breeds most often selected by ADI accredited organizations. There certainly are a number of other breeds that can be trained to perform service dog tasks, the priorities being: easy to train, enjoys working, even temperament that will last the dog's life time, low arousal, low prey drive, good problem solving skills, and if the dog should ever "default" to its hereditary breed traits and disposition, both must be safe for the handler and the public.

America's VetDogs - Accredited by ADI
Guide Dog Foundation dogs learn how to lead a person in a straight line, find and follow a clear path, maneuver around obstacles (both on the ground and overhead), and stop at changes in elevation, such as curbs and stairs. They are also trained to be extremely well behaved when in public places. We use Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador/Golden crosses. Standard Poodles are available for individuals or their immediate family member's with documented allergies.

Southeast Guide Dogs - Accredited by ADI

These working dogs are smart, fit, and highly trained, like elite athletes prepared for the challenge. Through cutting-edge genetics and breeding, innovative puppy education, positive home experiences, and expert training, we're creating healthier, stronger, more intelligent dogs that love people, love to learn, and live to please. Through our advanced pedigrees of Labradors, golden retrievers, and goldadors, we're changing the world, one extraordinary dog at a time.

Warrior Canine Connection - Accredited by ADI
Warrior Canine Connection's (WCC) dogs are Golden and Labrador Retrievers specially bred for health, temperament and longevity. The WCC Director of Dog Programs researches at least 12 generations of each dog's pedigree to obtain an accurate picture of his or her genetic potential to become a successful service dog for a wounded Warrior.

Guide Dog Foundation - Accredited by ADI
The dogs we breed at the Foundation have a success rate for guide and service dog work that is well over twice that of dogs donated as puppies by breeders or from a shelter. By breeding our own dogs, we have a proven history that goes back many generations to assess a dog's temperament, health, and overall suitability for guide and service work ... Our breeding colony has over 100 dogs, the majority of which are Labrador Retrievers. The other breeds we use include: Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Lab/Golden crosses.

Autism Service Dogs - Accredited by ADI
ADS dogs are of the highest quality, with optimal health, temperament, maturity and adaptability. The types of dogs trained are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and some Standard Poodles (specifically for families with allergies).

COPE Service Dogs - Accredited by ADI
For the most part, COPE has trained Golden Retrievers, but has also worked with Labrador Retrievers, Standard Poodles and Barbets. The breeding and training program reinforces desired traits in a service dog, including work ethic, low arousal, low prey drive and good problem solving skills.

Pacific Assistance Dogs - Accredited by ADI
Our Service Dogs usually need to be of a larger, solid build, and are often Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers ... Our Hearing Dogs are usually smaller breed dogs (under 40 pounds), but occasionally we will train a smaller Labrador or Golden Retriever if the dog has a suitable temperament.


There is a reason why the public correlates Labradors and goldens with service dogs; they are the two most popular breeds used in service dog work. There is a reason why the public is distrustful when being told, "My pit bull is a service dog." Because only "breed advocate" owners and groups push pit bull service dogs, whether the dog is trained or not. Whereas the goal of a legitimate service dog training group is to produce amazing, productive and safe dogs for the truly disabled.

The level of honesty shown by legitimate service dog training organizations about breed suitability cannot be emphasized enough either. Shelters and adoption groups rarely, if ever, explain to a potential adopter that temperament in pit bulls may not show until the dog reaches adulthood, about the age of two. It is no surprise that the most common age of an unwanted pit bull in the shelter system is 1.5 to 2-years old, according to multiple shelter surveys by Animals 24-7.2

"When Ruben gets upset, the dog gets upset." - Stalking victim Deborah Farmer

Finally, we selected two videos for contrast. The first demonstrates how an alleged pit bull service dog and its owner respond to a conflict on a crowded New York subway -- the pit bull attacks. Trained service dogs are impervious to conflict and seek to calm their handler or help their handler navigate away from threats. After Ruben Roncallo was arrested and charged for the subway attack, he was re-arrested on a stalking charge, where he used his dog to harass a woman.3

The second video demonstrates a goldendoodle passing a Public Access Test. Certification of passing this test is not required by the government under the ADA or Air Carrier Access Act, but passing it is required to meet the minimum training standards of the IAADP and is a benchmark for service dog training groups and those who are self-training their service dogs. The 9.5 minute video shows just how high of a standard these dogs are held to when working out in public.

1While the ADI discourages the use of protection breeds as service dogs, the IAADP strictly prohibits protection trained or aggressive dogs: "IAADP Policy Prohibiting the Enrollment of Protection Trained or Aggressive dogs - Any dog who is protection trained, attack trained or one who exhibits aggressive behavior in violation of our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access is NOT eligible for enrollment as an Assistance Dog in IAADP, or renewal, no matter what disability related tasks or alerts the dog is said to perform. If an IAADP Partner member's dog later displays aggressive behavior and cannot be rehabilitated within a reasonable time period, ethically, that dog should be retired as unfit for duty outside the home, as the dog does not qualify as an assistance dog under our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior will be acceptable in appropriate situations." (An older post addresses this as well: 7-Year Old Boy Killed by Trained Protection Dog)
2Merritt Clifton, "Obsessed about pit bulls?," Animals 24-7, September 10, 2014 (www.animals24-7.org)
1The subway attack by Ruben Roncallo's fake service pit bull and his arrest occurred in late April. At that time, Roncallo had 311 complaints lodged against him. As of June 7, Roncallo continues to flaunt his fake service pit bull in a transportation venue and as of July 3, in a restaurant as well. Both are violations of the ADA. This is a known attack dog. Any business can kick out this dog because it poses a "direct threat" to their employees and patrons.

Related articles:
06/23/18: Delta Bans Pit Bull-Type Dogs as Service, Support Animals in the Cabin
01/25/18: Delta Tightens Reins on Untrained 'Support' Dogs in the Aircraft Cabin
07/14/17: Delta Passenger is Severely Attacked by an Unrestrained Emotional Support Dog

2018 Dog Bite Fatality: 'Rampaging Attack,' Dog Attacks Two, Killing One, in Arcata, California

rampaging attack, kills man in arcata
Rampaging attack by pet dog leaves one adult dead, another injured in Arcata.

Shelter Updates Cover Photo
UPDATE 07/02/18: At 2:00 pm Central time today, we saw that the Humboldt County Animal Shelter updated their Facebook Cover photo to a pit bull mascot about 15 hours earlier. On June 27, Andre Hale, the shelter’s manager, "would only characterize [the attacking dog] as a “mixed-breed" to the Lost Coast Outpost. Since this time, Reporter Kym Kemp has been told the dog is a pit bull-mix and commenter Rusty at Words Worth wrote, "the grandson said it's a pit bull."

The actions of Hale, whether deliberate or not, remind us how some shelter directors in the past have deliberately interfered with national dog bite fatality statistics, while simultaneously promoting and owning the pit bull breed. The "mixed-breed" label combined with the timing of this photograph chosen as the shelter's new Cover image, celebrating their "longest canine resident," Rocky, is at best nauseating. Thus far, the Arcata Police Department has not released any breed information.

The last known fatal pit bull attack in Humboldt County was the 1989 death of Garrett East.

after rampaging attack, shelter promotes pit bull

06/29/18: Man Dies After Rampaging Attack
Arcata, CA - The Humboldt County Coroner's Office issued a press release Friday stating that a man died of his injuries after being attacked by a dog earlier this week. The attack was inflicted on June 25, 2018 in Arcata. The coroner identified the victim as 91-year old Donald Steele. The cause of death was determined to be consistent with injuries from a dog attack. The manner of death was ruled accidental. The Arcata Police Department is investigating his mauling death.

Date: 6/29/2018 Prepared by: S. Karges

Case Number: APD 18-1744 / HCSO 201803181 Subject: Dog attack victim dies of injuries The Humboldt County Coroner’s Office has identified the victim of a fatal dog attack on June 25, 2018 in Arcata as 91-year-old Donald Steele. Steele’s cause of death has been determined to be from injuries consistent with a dog attack. His manner of death has been determined as accidental.

Humboldt County Animal Control took possession of the dog following the incident. The dog was euthanized June 28 following orders from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services. The dog tested negative for rabies.

The Arcata Police Department is investigating this incident. All inquiries related to this case should be directed to the Arcata Police Department at (707) 822-2428.

The attack was first reported on June 27 by the Lost Coast Outpost, which described it as a "rampaging attack on two people Monday morning at the Town & Country Mobile Villa off Giuntoli Lane in Arcata." The violent attack occurred in the 4900 block of Sierra Way, inside the park, just before 11:00 am. The multiple mauling caused a large response from police and paramedics. The Outpost cites the dispatcher's log of the call, "someone needs medical, just kept screaming hurry."

The dog attacked two people. One of the victims suffered "critical" injuries and the other suffered "moderate" injuries, reports the Outpost. Both victims were adults and one of the victim's was the dog's owner, according to Lt. Bart Silvers of the Arcata Police Department. The animal was confiscated and taken to the Humboldt County Animal Shelter. At the local Redheaded Blackbelt website, reporter Kym Kemp states the dog's owner is the girlfriend of Donald Steele's son.

Guest: Why did people say earlier that it was the pit bull owner's girlfriend and a neighbor that tried to intervene?

Kym Kemp: I don’t know why they said that but I spoke to Arcata Police and my understanding is that the girlfriend of Mr. Steele’s son was bitten and then Mr. Steel was bitten.

Guest: So pretty close. Somehow I got the impression the girlfriend got the worst of it.

Sharon: Kym do we know the breed of the dog?...

Kym Kemp: I was told it was a pit bull mix.


Pat Passalaqua: Where does it say it was a pit bull?

Kym Kemp: It doesn’t. However, I spoke with people who told me this was a pit bull mix.

rampaging attack pit bull-mix

rampaging attack pit bull arcata

Related articles:
01/04/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Boy Killed by His Sister's Three Pit Bulls in Yuba County
12/17/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Gridley Woman Mauled To Death by Her Two Pet Pit Bulls

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.