Million Dollar Lawsuit: Mother of Child Mauled by an 'Emotional Support' Pit Bull at Portland Airport Sues

gabriella gonzalez - emotional support pit bull
Facial injuries inflicted on Gabriella Gonzalez by an emotional support pit bull.

Million Dollar Lawsuit
Portland, OR - A civil lawsuit seeking $1.1 million in damages was filed last week by the mother of a 5-year old child who was mauled in the face by an unconfined emotional support pit bull at the Portland International Airport in 2017. The lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court and names multiple defendants, including the dog's owner, Michelle Brannan, who should have known that her pit bull "possessed vicious propensities," the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines.

The lawsuit claims the Port of Portland is at fault for allowing a dangerous emotional support animal (ESA) into the airport and to pass through security without the dog being in a crate. The lawsuit also claims that Alaska Airlines is at fault for allowing Brannan to bring a dangerous ESA into the gate waiting area, where the attack happened, when the dog was not a trained service animal and was not crated, muzzled or otherwise restrained from attacking a person.

On or about December 18, 2017, Gabriella Gonzalez, age 5, was at Gate C7 of the Portland International Airport waiting for a flight with her family. Defendant Michelle Brannan came to the Portland International Airport with her pit bull. Ms. Brannan claimed the pit bull was an emotional support animal. She went through the ticketing process at Alaska Airlines without the pit bull being in a crate, kennel or other secure container. She then took the pit bull through Port of Portland security without the animal being in a crate, kennel or another secure container. Once inside the secure area of the airport, she went to gate C7 where her pit bull attacked Gabriella Gonzalez causing serious injuries as fully set forth below.

Gabriella suffered the economic damages of $100,000 and the non-economic damages of $1 million, which includes past and future pain and suffering, states the lawsuit. "Gabriella Gonzalez suffered injury to the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and soft tissue of her face, eye, eyelid, tear duct and lip, as well as emotional trauma," states the lawsuit. All of the injuries and the "consequences of them, are permanent" and have caused her to suffer non-economic damages.

In Oregon, dog owners are only held strictly liable for the payment of "economic damages," such as medical bills. For full compensation, the victim has to prove "negligence, violation of an animal control law like a leash law, or that the dog was known to be vicious toward humans," states DogBiteLaw.com. The lawsuit alleges that Brannan had "prior notice of the vicious propensities and disposition of her pit bull" and is strictly liable for the economic and non-economic damages.

The Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines are strictly liable for both types of damages due to negligence. The entities violated the Portland International Rules, which prohibit bringing an animal into the airport unless it is in a carrier or other approved container or is a trained service or law enforcement animal. Both also failed to "inspect the premises" to discover that passengers were bringing unsecured, untrained, dangerous animals into the airport, states the lawsuit.

All three defendants are strictly liable for both types of damages due to negligence; Brannan alone is accused of the "vicious propensities" claim.

Portland attorney Chad Stavely filed the lawsuit. He told The Oregonian that Gabriella and her family were waiting at gate C7 to board a plane to Texas for the Christmas holiday. The child's mother and her older sister stepped away to get coffee while Gabriella and her 13-year old brother waited at the gate. With Brannan’s consent, Gabriella started to pet the dog. The pit bull then attacked her face, puncturing her eyelid, severing her tear duct and inflicting other injuries.

The Oregonian also spoke to Kama Simonds, a spokesperson for the Port of Portland. Simonds said the port does distinguish between trained service animals and emotional support animals -- the latter must be in carriers while moving through the airport. If the animal is too large for a carrier, it must be on a leash within three feet of its owner. Port officials cited Brannan for failing to crate her pit bull, so officials must have believed the dog was not too large for a carrier.

Unlike in most aircraft cabins, where ESAs are allowed uncaged, the Port of Portland required them to be in carriers during the ticketing process, passing through security and moving through the airport. Six months after Gabriella was bitten, the Port of Portland updated their rules and posted signage in the terminal to inform owners of emotional support animals that they must be kept in a pet carrier. Only ESAs "too large" for a carrier can be "carried" or on a short leash.

Untrained, Uncaged Emotional Support Animals

In July 2017, we published a special report after an untrained, uncaged "support dog" repeatedly attacked a passenger in the face onboard a Delta aircraft in Atlanta. The report details the unprovoked attack, how passengers routinely "game the system" by buying fake service dog and ESA credentials online and argued that ESAs in the cabin should be limited in size. The 50-pound "support dog" had been sitting on its owner's lap when it attacked the passenger one seat over.

Our report was limited to inside an aircraft. The Portland case involves the broader experience of airline travel -- time spent traversing, waiting and interacting at an airport. There are numerous security protocols at airports to keep the public safe and to stop threats from boarding a plane. Yet in this case, Brannan waltzed through the security checkpoint with her support pit bull uncrated, while knowing of the dog's vicious propensities, and gave a young child consent to pet her dog.

We cannot emphasize enough the negligent actions of Brannan, given her alleged "prior notice of the vicious propensities" of her pit bull.

The definition of an ESA is that they do not require any training, much less any training for public access. The sole function of an ESA is to "provide comfort" to a person with disabilities. If the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines had been enforcing the Portland International Rules, Brannan and her unsecured ESA would have been stopped at the Alaska Airline ticketing area or when reaching the airport's security checkpoint. Both entities failed to do so and a lawsuit has resulted.

The lawsuit also states the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines are negligent for "failing to warn guests of the dangers of unsecured, untrained animals in the airport so that they could protect themselves." When Brannan's unsecured emotional support pit bull bit Gabriella in the face at gate C7, there was no notice to the public that ESAs by definition are untrained (as are fake service dogs) and can pose a danger when unsecured. Such notices are likely absent today too.

Tightening the Reins on Untrained ESAs

In January 2018, Delta Air Lines introduced "enhanced requirements" for service and emotional support animals, requiring proof of vaccinations and more. Many airlines followed, including Alaska Airlines, whose new policy came into effect in May 2018 -- just five months after Gabriella was bitten. Among Alaska's requirements are a Confirmation of Liability and Emotional Support Animal Behavior form and an Animal Health Advisory form -- no proof of vaccinations is required.

In June 2018, Delta Air Lines announced additional restrictions on service and support animals. The restrictions include limiting each passenger to one emotional support animal per flight and banning pit bull-type dogs as service or support animals. "These updates, which come as the peak summer travel season is underway, are the direct result of growing safety concerns following recent incidents in which several employees were bitten," states the Delta news release.

The Delta policy went into effect July 10, one day after public comments closed by the Department of Transportation to determine the "appropriate definition of a service animal" and ways to reduce the number of fake service and support animals. Nothing has resulted from the proposed rulemaking process thus far. Allegiant Air followed suit in December 2018, stating on their service animal and ESA forms, "Please note Allegiant does not transport pit bull or pit bull-type breeds."

That same month, Delta pushed even further by banning ESAs on long haul flights and banning all service and support animals under the age of four months. “We will continue to review and enhance our policies and procedures as health and safety are core values at Delta,” said John Laughter, Senior Vice President – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance. Again, the rulemaking process can be arduous and Delta must only provide "reasonable accommodation."

Port Authorities and Airlines on Notice

The million dollar lawsuit filed by Gabriella's mother places all port authorities and airlines on notice. An airport is a "public access" space that is governed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act does not afford ESAs access to public spaces. Only trained service animals have this authorization. Municipal port authorities with lax enforcement of their own rules or those that grant ESAs the same access privileges as service dogs may be at risk of a similar lawsuit.

Stavely told the Washington Post that he hopes the lawsuit will push port authorities and airlines to strictly enforce the strengthened polices around ESAs that were largely created in response to the severe facial attack inflicted by a "support dog" onboard a Delta aircraft in 2017.1 Stavely also said that he plans to investigate whether the pit bull that bit Gabriella was a legitimate emotional support dog. Brannan's ESA letter simply prescribed an "animal" for her, not even an animal type.

This $1.1 million lawsuit will indeed push the envelope on this competing public interests debate. The public and airlines like Delta exhibit far less tolerance today for people abusing the Air Carrier Access Act so their pets can fly free. The severe facial attack Gabriella suffered while waiting at gate C7 could have been averted. All three parties, the dog's owner, the Port of Portland and Alaska Air, are now being accused of fault. We hope this civil lawsuit is argued before a jury.


The Portland Law Office of Chad Stavley specializes in significant injury and wrongful death cases and has the "largest dog attack verdict in recent Oregon history," according to the firm's website.


emotional support pit bull - portland airport

On February 27, 2019, Michelle Kay Brannan removed the above Facebook profile image.

emotional support pit bull PDX facial attack

Reflects the Portland International Airport (PDX) rules six months after the attack (6/28/2018).

1Technically, the 50-pound dog that attacked Marlin Jackson in the face was a psychiatric service dog (PSA), according to comments by Delta Air Lines posted to the U.S. Department of Transportation website in May 2018. Most airlines treat these two types of dogs the same in flying requirements, despite one being a service dog under the ADA that "performs a task" and the other, which "provides comfort" to a person with a qualifying disability.

Related articles:
07/05/18: Why Breed Matters in Service Dogs and Why Pit Bull Service Dogs are a Bad Idea
06/23/18: Delta Bans Pit Bull-Type Dogs as Service, Support Animals in the Cabin...
01/25/18: Delta's Policy Response After a Passenger was Attacked by an Emotional Support Dog
07/14/17: Delta Passenger is Severely Attacked by an Unrestrained 'Emotional Support Dog'

2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Woman Killed by Neighbor's Pack of Dogs in Lubbock, Texas

lubbock pack attack fatal
Johnnie Mae Garner, 88, died after she was attacked by a pack of dogs in Lubbock.

Charged with Felony
UPDATE 03/09/19: On Friday, police arrested Courtney White, 47, the owner of six pit bull-mixes that fatally attacked an elderly woman last month, in connection to her mauling death. White is charged with a second-degree felony count of "attack by dog." On February 27, Johnnie Garner, 88, was brutally attacked by White's loose dogs at her northeast Lubbock home in the 1800 block of East Colgate Street. She sustained life-threatening injuries and later died at a local hospital.

White was arrested a few hours after Lubbock police investigators presented their case to the Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney’s office. White was booked into the Lubbock County Detention Center Friday. White's dogs had a history of running loose and attacking people. Just two days before killing Garner, Roy Brown said that four of White's dogs attacked him after killing a dog. Brown suffered multiple injuries and was taken to UMC by ambulance after the attack.

The Texas felony dog attack statute (Health and Safety Code 822.005), "Attack by Dog," was enacted in 2007 and has two sections. White is likely being charged under the first: "with criminal negligence, as defined by Section 6.03, Penal Code, 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 ... that causes serious bodily injury, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code, or death..."

Arrest Warrant Released

Three days after White was arrested and charged, additional facts became known when the arrest warrant was released. On February 25, four of White's dogs attacked Brown and killed a dog. At that time, White called Lubbock Animal Services to turn over the dogs, stating he could no longer care for them or keep them secure. White reportedly showed investigators his call logs, which showed that he called the city agency two days before his pack of pit bull-mixes killed Garner.

According to White, the agency told him he needed to "make an appointment" to drop off the dogs and the earliest timeslot was March 1. Investigators said a portion of White's backyard fence was blown down and other parts of the fence were in disrepair. So, why didn't the agency seize White's dogs after they attacked Brown and killed a dog on February 25? Also, why did White have to wait four days to surrender his "biting" and dangerous dogs to an "open admission" city shelter?

Roy Brown cries during the KCBD interview after Garner was mauled and killed and states, "This lady did not have to die, she really didn't."

White's dogs killed Garner on February 27. At that time, animal services seized all six of his dogs -- no "waiting period" was required. The four dogs that attacked Brown and killed a dog on February 25 should have been in quarantine at the time of Garner's death. At the very least, White should have been able to surrender his dogs quickly after the February 25 attack. The Lubbock Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is open daily 8am - 6pm and Saturday 12pm - 4pm.


03/04/19: Dogs Euthanized
All six dogs involved in the mauling death of 88-year old Johnnie Garner were euthanized. Steven Greene, director of Lubbock Animal Services, said his agency responded to the scene last Wednesday and impounded the dogs. Greene described all six dogs as pit bull-mixes. Greene said he's never seen an attack that has caused death. "I've been here since August of 2013 with the department and I haven't ever seen an attack that's caused a death within the city," he said.

The death of Garner is the first dog bite fatality we have recorded in Lubbock County since 2005; the year that marks our data collection of all U.S. dog bite fatalities. The Fatal Pit Bull Attacks archive shows that Alva Rogers, 82, was killed by a pit bull in Lubbock County in 2000 and Aurora Gonzales, 64, was struck down by a pit bull in the county in 1997. All three victims were older females. There are no recorded Lubbock County deaths in the Fatal Rottweiler Attacks archive.

Just after we published this update, KCBD reported that a Lubbock man was attacked by four of these same pit bull-mixes just two days before they killed Garner. Roy Brown said the dogs attacked him in an alley as he was walking home. “That lady didn’t have to die, she really didn’t," Brown said. He said he unknowingly walked up on the pack of dogs after they had killed another dog. Then the dogs attacked him. Brown was taken to UMC by ambulance after the attack.


These previous attacks on a person and pet dog while being "at large" should prompt charges under the Texas felony dog attack law. Police have not released the name of the dogs' owner.


02/28/19: Pack of Dogs Kill Woman
Lubbock, TX - An 88-year old woman is dead after being mauled to death by a pack of dogs, Lubbock police confirmed. Police responded to the 1800 block of East Colgate Street about 6:30 pm Wednesday after it was reported that six dogs attacked her. "The reporting party came home and found his dogs had gotten out of his yard," police said. "He found them attacking his neighbor," police said. The victim was transported to Covenant Health where she later died.

Lubbock Animal Control confiscated the attacking dogs. Police later released identification photographs of the dogs to media outlets.

Family members identified the victim as Johnnie Mae Garner. According to the police report, a neighbor told the dogs' owner that his dogs were loose and running around. The owner went into the alley to find them and heard Garner screaming for help. He found the dogs mauling Garner. He jumped the fence to help, but his own "pack of dogs" then charged him. Police have not released the dog owner's name, who apparently flagged down the officers to help them locate Garner.

In an evening update by Fox 19 News, identification photographs of all six dogs were released. Two of the dogs are pit bulls. The rest appear to be part pit bull. The dogs may be related too -- siblings or offspring. In the City of Lubbock, no residence shall harbor more than four adult dogs. Any person desiring more must apply with the director of animal services for a multipet permit, which requires a premises inspection to determine compliance and renewal every two years.

Packs of Dogs Killing Women

Garner's death marks a string of women killed by a pack of loose dogs, starting with Dianne Reves, 70, who was killed by seven dogs belonging to her neighbor on January 9 in Grenada, Mississippi. Reves had worked for years as a nurse. She died alone in her backyard. On January 16, Lana Bergman, 70, was mauled to death by a pack of loose pit bulls on her own property in Joshua Tree, California. The dogs belonged to unwelcome squatters staying on her property.

On February 9, Angela Johnson, 54, died following a brutal mauling late last year. On December 15, Johnson was hanging laundry in her yard in rural Anza, California when three loose pit bulls attacked her. On February 18, Brenda Hamilton, 77, was attacked by a suspected pack of dogs near her home in Pentago, North Carolina. She died two days later. Hamilton had been an English teacher at Pungo Christian School since 1968 and was known as the school's "matriarch."

Finally, just two days ago, Bessie Peterson, 88, was discovered horribly injured by a pack of dogs on her own property in Pickett County, Tennessee. She was airlifted from the scene to Vanderbilt Medical Center where she later died. The pack of dogs are alleged to belong to a neighbor. No breed information or description of the dogs has been made public. Garner's death marks the sixth female victim, aged 54 to 88, in this series of similar fatal pack attack maulings since January 9.

Despite each death involving a pack of loose dogs and negligent owners, no criminal charges have been filed in any case yet. Local and state dog attack statutes are so deficient in the U.S. that even when a "pack of dogs" -- which by definition is "dangerous" -- escapes a dog owner's property and savagely mauls a person to death, authorities are slow-moving at best and at worst, they throw up their arms and say, "My hands are tied. There is no statute to charge under."

In each case, the women were on their own property when the dogs attacked, except for Hamilton, who was taking her routine morning walk on Indian Run Road near her home. After Johnson was brutally attacked, her son published an update on her GoFundMe page. "She was lifeless when family found her. Her eyes were stuck as wide open as could be … and that terrified expression stayed on my mom's face, until she was airlifted to Desert Regional Hospital," her son wrote.

lubbock pack attack pit bulls

Four of the six fatally attacking dogs -- at least two are pit bulls and two are pit bull-mixes.

lubbock pack attack pit bulls

Two of the six dogs involved in the fatal mauling of 88-year old Johnnie Mae Garner.

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

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Related articles:
02/27/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Woman Mauled by Pack of Dogs in Pickett County Dies
02/18/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman in Anza Pit Bull Attack Dies of Injuries After Weeks...
02/18/19: High School Teacher Dies After Violent Animal Attack in Pantego, North Carolina
02/17/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Joshua Tree Woman Killed by Pack of Pit Bulls Belonging...
01/11/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Killed by Pack of Dogs in Grenada County, Mississippi


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.

2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Elderly Woman Mauled by Pack of Dogs in Pickett County Dies

pickett county dog attack - Jill peterson
Bessie "Jill" Peterson, 88, died Tuesday after being mauled by a pack of dogs.

Sister Shares Story
UPDATE 02/28/19: Bessie "Jill" Peterson's sister, Nina Brown, shared the horrific details of her sister's mauling death with News Channel 5. On Tuesday, Jill went out to the back of her home to clear a drainage ditch after recent heavy rains. A pack of six German shepherds came up behind her and viciously attacked her. "They dragged her down the yard and all of her clothes were off, her shoes, everything. They tore all of her hair out, the casket can’t be open," Brown said.

"Whatever she (the owner) gets, it won’t be enough," Brown said. "She knew the dogs were dangerous and did nothing about it." - Nina Brown

Brown, who is 85, witnessed part of the attack. She tried to intervene, but three of the dogs charged her. "They started after me and I had to call 911," Brown said. Peterson was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she later died. The dogs belong to a neighbor who lives behind her home. Over the years, prior incidents by these dogs had been reported to authorities. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said the dog's owner could face homicide charges.


02/27/19: Pack of Dogs Kill Woman
Pall Mall, TN - An elderly woman is dead after being attacked by a pack of dogs, Pickett County Sheriff Dana Dowdy said today. The attack occurred Tuesday about 5:00 pm. Deputies responded to a 911 call at 161 Evans Lane. Bessie Jill Peterson, 88, was airlifted from the scene to Vanderbilt Medical Center where she later died. Police believe six dogs inflicted the mauling and are alleged to belong to a neighbor. The 13th Judicial District Attorney's Office is aiding in the investigation.

Pickett County is the least populated county in Tennessee with just over 5,000 estimated people. Peterson only had one residential neighbor, according to Pickett County property records. The two other nearby properties are classified as agricultural. Limited information is being released by the sheriff at this time. No description of the dogs has been made public. In early February, in another small town along the Tennessee and Kentucky border, a family pit bull fatally mauled a baby boy.

Past Tennessee Fatalities

The most recent news from Tennessee is a $2.5 million dollar verdict awarded to a family after two pit bulls killed William Parker in 2010. For seven years, his daughter and her mother fought a legal battle against the apartment complex where the pit bulls were kept. They sued management, Epstein Enterprises, and the property owner, Longview Heights Partners, saying they knew or should have known of the dogs' vicious propensities. The dogs had attacked people before.

Our records show there have been at least 11 fatal dog maulings in Tennessee since 2005. Nearly half of these deaths occurred over the 2-year period of 2005 to 2006. In February 2017, two English mastiffs killed a 5-year old boy in Clarksville, another northern Tennessee city. In November 2015, Anthony Riggs, 57-years old, was brutally killed by a rottweiler he had adopted just hours earlier from Jackson-Madison County Rabies Control -- the county animal shelter.

pickett county dog attack

The location where a pack of dogs fatally mauled Bessie "Jill" Peterson in Pall Mall.

Related articles:
11/21/18: 2010 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Man, Injure Four Others in Memphis
02/17/17: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Mastiffs Kill 5-Year Old Boy in Clarksville, Tennessee
11/18/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Newly Adopted Rottweiler Kills Owner in Madison County


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.

2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Greenville Woman Severely Mauled by Her Own Dogs Dies Hours Later

horror film dog attack greensville
Nancy Cherryl Burgess-Dismuke, 52, died of "extremely severe" dog bite injuries.

Clarifications
UPDATE 02/28/19: Katora Strickland, the dog mauling victim's niece, goes by Strickland Linda on Facebook. When Fox Carolina interviewed Strickland after Nancy Burgess-Dismuke's horrific mauling death, they flashed a photo showing two pit bulls and a chihuahua lying on and near a bed. The interview also stated that Burgess-Dismuke had seven dogs in her household. But these particular two pit bulls and a chihuahua belong to Strickland. She states this in comments here.

"This is her bed with my dogs laid up with her daily so keep what u may think happen to yourself," [sic] Strickland states. It's unclear if the two lived in the same household. Strickland also clarifies the previous aggression. "This one boxer had been aggressive towards my aunt and attacked her at least 5 times she still wouldn't put dog down or get rid of him he was jealous of other dogs an only god knows why this happened an if pay more attention the kennels where separated." [sic].

According to Strickland, at least one of the boxers involved in the "horror film" mauling had attacked Burgess-Dismuke five times in the past. She refused to put the dog down and continued to play wrestling games with it. News reports state that after the two neighbors got the dogs off her -- by that time, one arm was totally bitten off and the other was "barely hanging on by a piece of meat" -- Burgess-Dismuke, essentially without arms, "threw her body over the fence" to flee.

Whiteside grabbed a blunt ax while roommate William Long grabbed a drive shaft beside a vehicle. They both began beating the dogs to free Burgess- Dismuke.

When they finally got the dogs off of her, and finally got them to go, she threw her body over the fence," Greer said. "She didn’t jump; she threw her body like you never seen before. They were eating her." - Greenville Online, February 22, 2019

02/24/19: Previous Aggression
Fox Carolina interviewed Katora Strickland, the dog mauling victim's niece. On February 21, Nancy Burgess-Dismuke, 52, died after a wrestling game with her two boxer-mix dogs turned into a violent attack. "This is not the first time a dog had attacked her," Strickland said. "She still loved the dog and did not want it to be put down." It's unclear if the previous attack involved either of the attackers. There were five other dogs in her household, and at one time, at least two pit bulls.

In 2018, four people were brutally killed by their own dog(s), which had attacked them in the past, but the owner did not want the dog put down.

Denzel Whiteside, a neighbor who came to Burgess-Dismuke's aid, states, "The other dogs were just standing there watching the whole thing. They would jump in and help every now and then. But the two dogs, they were doing so much damage -- it was unreal." Whiteside also said the boxer-mixes had been aggressive in the past. "I knew this day was going to come. I've lived out here for a couple of months and every day it was something with those dogs," Whiteside said.

Neighbors Whiteside and Amber Greer also told the Greenville Times, "They never trusted Burgess-Dismuke's boxer-mixes and did not believe they were well trained." They would not allow their own small dog to be outside of their mobile home whenever they saw the two boxer-mixes outside. Authorities euthanized both dogs involved in the attack Friday. It is unknown if either were rescue dogs. It is also unknown if the two boxer-mixes lived predominantly in the outdoor pen.

Dispatch Logs

Noticing the discrepancies in the media reports -- police were called to the scene at 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm -- we reviewed the Greenville County Sheriff audio dispatch logs. The call came in just after 1:00 pm. At this early stage, the attackers are described as pit bulls. "What are the details on that? Are the dogs attacking each other or is the neighbor being attacked their own dog?" Dispatch responds, "The neighbor is being attacked by their own dogs. She says it a pit bull."


02/22/19: Dogs Brutally Kill Owner
Greenville, SC – A Greenville woman is dead after being violently attacked by her own two dogs. Nancy Cherryl Burgess-Dismuke, 52, of Yale Street, died about 10:03 pm Thursday. Nine hours earlier, she suffered multiple "extremely severe" dog bite injuries in the front yard of her home, Senior Deputy Coroner Kent Dill said. The dog bite injuries to her upper extremities resulted in a large volume of blood loss, Dill said. Burgess-Dismuke was the owner of both dogs, Dill said.

Two male neighbors heard her cries for help and came to her aid. They found one dog latched onto each of her arms and dragging her body back into her home. "It went from looking like they were really playing to them really eating her alive," said Amber Greer, who first called 911. Neighbor Denzel Whiteside said Burgess-Dismuke would often play wrestle with her dogs. This time, however, the wrestling turned into violent aggression with both dogs mauling her arms.

"She was screaming bloody murder," Greer said. She repeatedly screamed, "Help! Somebody help me. They're attacking me."

The preliminary investigation shows Burgess-Dismuke was wresting with her dogs outside, Greenville County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Ryan Flood said. A neighbor saw the attack and called 911 about 1:00 pm. Both dogs, described as "boxer-mixes," were confiscated by Greenville County Animal Control and are being held in quarantine. WYFF states in their video report, "We are told we will get a look at the dogs that latched onto their owner, eventually killing her."

Images of a blunt axe and a makeshift dog pen conjure up scenes from a horror film as neighbors William Long and Whiteside describe the attack to Greenville News. "Seeing a person's bones as the dog attacks -- it really gets into your head," Long said. Whiteside, who is a very well-built male, said that not even he could handle the dogs by myself. By the time the dogs let her go, "she was already missing a whole arm," Whiteside said. "Her other hand was already missing" too, he said.

"I heard her screaming. They were already splitting her in half. One dog was on one arm. The other dog was on the other arm." - Denzel Whiteside

Despite being beaten with a blunt axe and a drive shaft, Long and Whiteside said the dogs "never let go," until the police arrived. "I hit him with it a couple of times, he didn't move," Whiteside said. "He never felt it." He finally got one good swing and that dog let go. Whiteside described the attack as "the longest 10 minutes of my life." Arriving deputies applied tourniquets to Burgess-Dismuke's remaining arm. She was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital where she later died.

FoxCarolina also has two interviews with Burgess-Dismuke's shaken neighbors huddling under umbrellas. Long described her as a very nice neighbor. "If she could give you help, she would."

makeshift pen horror film dog attack

The outdoor dog pen in victim's front yard, where the attacking dogs were reportedly kept.

blunt axe makeshift pen horror film dog attack

A blunt axe used by a male neighbor in an attempt to beat the dogs off Burgess-Dismuke.

Attacking boxers horror film dog attack

Greenvillle County deputies say these two boxer-mixes attacked and killed Burgess-Dismuke.

Related articles:
10/15/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies After Being Mauled by Family Pit Bull in D.C.
09/27/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Adopted Two Weeks Earlier Kills Woman in Maryland
09/20/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Kills Owner in Baker City Who Tried to Stop a Fight...
08/27/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: West Price Hill Woman Killed by Her Pit Bull; Police Call...

High School Teacher Dies After Violent Animal Attack in Pantego, North Carolina

animal attack pantego
Brenda Hamilton, 77-years old, died after being attacked by an animal in Pantego.

Woman Dies
Pantego, NC – A 77-year old school teacher attacked by an animal Friday has died of her injuries, according to a Facebook post by Pungo Christian Academy. Brenda Hamilton, 77, of Pantego, was attacked on Indian Run Road. She suffered severe injuries and was listed in critical condition late Saturday at Vidant Pitt Hospital, according to a news release from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. School officials announced earlier today, "Mrs. Hamilton has gained her wings."

On Friday, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call about an animal attack on Indian Run Road. Paramedics arrived to find Brenda Hamilton, 77, with severe injuries due to the attack. Sheriff's investigators, along with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission officers and biologists, responded to the scene to determine the type of animal involved. Preliminary DNA testing has "eliminated any wild animals indigenous to the area," states the news release.

Officials later said the test results could match anything from a wolf or coyote to a domestic dog. They are currently testing dogs in the area.

Pantego is a town of less than 200 people, according to Wikipedia. Several farms are located on Indian Run Road and houses dot nearby Pungo Road. On Sunday, school officials posted to Facebook, "We continue to discover how devastating Mrs. Hamilton's injuries are. Please keep praying for Mrs. Hamilton and her family as they make difficult decisions in the coming days." Hamilton had been teaching at the Academy since 1968, according to the school's website.

Canines kill more Americans every year than alligators, bears, big cats, snakes and sharks combined. Review the related Tableau project: US Fatalities from Animal Attacks 2006 - 2016.

animal attack pantego

The location of the deadly animal attack on Indian Run Road, near Pungo Road, in Pantego.

Related articles:
11/10/18: Persistent 'Wild Animal' Theory Finally Derailed, Elderly Man was Killed by a Pack of Loose Dogs in 2015

Owner of Doberman Pinscher Show Dogs Found Dead with Multiple Dog Bites at her West Houston Home

champion dobermans kill owner in Houston
Elaine Richman, 66-years old, was discovered dead Friday with multiple dog bites.

Woman Found Dead
Houston, TX - A woman was discovered dead with multiple dog bites at her home last week, police said. On Friday, around 8:00 am, police performed a welfare check at a home in the 12800 block of Susanna Lane. They discovered 66-year old Elaine Richman dead in her backyard with dog bites on her face, arms and hands. Two adult Doberman pinschers were located inside the home, police said. The Houston Fire Department pronounced the woman dead at the scene.

"Her dogs were like her children," her brother Bruce told media outlets. "She spent so many years showing dobermans. They were her life."

Witnesses told police they had not seen Richman at her dog training classes for the last two days. According to a preliminary autopsy report by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, Richman died of "sharp force injuries." The manner of death was ruled accidental. A male and female Doberman, 2 and 4-years old, were confiscated and are being held at BARC, the shelter and adoption center for the city of Houston. The final cause of death remains pending.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Richman had been involved in the Doberman Pinscher Club of Houston and was accused of stealing from the organization. Between Nov. 10, 2011, and May 31, 2012, Richman embezzled $23,250 from the club while she was its treasurer, reports The Chronicle. She was also accused of falsifying financial statements, inflating the amounts of funds available to the club. She was given probation for eight years, set to end in November 2020.

The Chronicle also referred to CDC dog bite fatality data, which is now 20 years old. During the 20-year CDC study period from 1979 to 1998, Dobermen pinschers were involved 3.8% of human fatalities (9 of 238 deaths). A modern data set, examining the 13-year period of 2005 through 2017, shows that Dobermans were involved in only 1.4% of human fatalities (6 of 433 deaths). Despite their function as a protection breed, Dobermans are seldom involved in fatalities.

Rare Area of Fatal Dog Maulings

Show dogs and "protection" trained dogs rarely appear in fatal dog maulings. When they do, rottweilers perpetrate the most fatalities, including the deaths of 7-year old Logan Meyer of Wisconsin, 3-month old Dixie Jennings of North Carolina and 3-year old Vanessa Husman of Iowa. In 2011, Donna Conrad, 71, was killed by her Hungarian-imported protection trained Doberman. In 2009, Barbara Chambers, 59, died after being attacked by her Great dane "champion" show dog.

champion dobermans kill owner in Houston

Photographs of the two Dobermans suspected in the dog mauling death of Elaine Richman.

champion dobermans kill owner in Houston

Elaine Richman seen doing agility with one of her Dobermans in an undated photograph.

Related articles:
11/02/16: 2016 Dog Bite Fatality: New Dog Kills 4-Year Old Child, Injures Mother in Michigan
11/19/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: 7-Year Old Boy Killed by Trained Protection Dog in Wisconsin


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.