2020 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs

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or family members; and 79% (22) comprised images that were the result of DogsBite research and otherwise may have gone unpublished.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.

Rescuer Involved in Highly Litigated 'Gus' Case, Flees Scene After her Fake Service Pit Bull Attacks Child, Says Mother

The Dog's Owner, Jennifer Romano, Now Faces Felony Charges

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

Charge with Two Felonies
UPDATE 02/09/21: On Monday, the owner of a fake service pit bull that attacked a child in the face was charged in connection with the attack. Jennifer Romano, 46, was charged with injury to a child, a 2nd degree felony, and tampering with evidence, a 3rd degree felony. During the hearing the judge set bond at $5,000 for the first charge and $2,500 for the second charge. KHOU captured the hearing, which shows Romano wearing a shirt with a large photo of a pit bull.

The unprovoked attack occurred on January 9, when Ronin Waldroup, 3-years old, and her family visited the Loose Caboose in Old Town Spring. Ronin was standing one or two feet behind the dog, which was wearing a red "service dog" vest, when it turned around and snapped at her face. Romano fled the scene after the attack (felony injury to a child), and according to police, Romano concealed the dog from authorities while they were trying to seize the dog (felony tampering).

Charging documents also revealed the pit bull, named "Kingston," had previously bitten two people in separate incidents; one within 12 months of the January attack. Last month, a Montgomery County judge ordered that Kingston be euthanized to prevent the dog from inflicting more harm. Though Romano initially said she would appeal that ruling, the dog has since been euthanized. Romano was ordered not to have any contact with the victim and victim's family.

fake service pit bull - jennifer romano

The probable cause hearing for Jennifer Romano, 46, who was charged with two felonies.


01/26/21: Judge Orders Dog Euthanized
On Tuesday afternoon, a Montgomery County judge ruled that a dog that attacked a 3-year old girl in the face unprovoked inside a Spring restaurant earlier this month be euthanized. Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Judge Matt Beasley ordered that "Kingston," a male pit bull terrier owned by Jennifer Romano, be put down to prevent the dog from inflicting another damaging bite. Judge Beasley rejected an argument by Romano's attorney that the canine could be “re-trained.”

"I believe that shows lack of responsibility as to what went on," Beasley said. "I do believe that this would happen again...I don't trust you're a good handler for that dog....it's by your own hand and your actions that led us here today." - Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Judge Matt Beasley

Though Kingston was wearing a service dog vest at the time, and was falsely portrayed as a service dog for Romano, it became known during the three-day hearing that the dog was only an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), which have no protections under the American with Disabilities Act. The sole function of an ESA is to "provide comfort" not to perform a task for a person with a disability. It is not known yet whether Romano will appeal the judge's ruling, but it seems likely.

The Waldroup family, who plans on pursing a civil lawsuit against Romano, issued a statement to ABC 13 after the judge's ruling. Romano may also face criminal charges due to this attack.

"The family can finally breathe knowing this dog won't be back out in restaurants wearing vests, mauling more people. We won a small part of the battle today and we're preparing to win the war. Jennifer Romano's blatant disregard for the law and public safety needs to be brought to light and businesses need to know how to look out for other people like her." [Read full statement]

Dog Euthanized

On February 3, ABC 13 reported the dog has been euthanized. Jennifer Romano, the owner of a fake service pit bull named Kingston, decided not to appeal the ruling. Previously, John Kovach, an attorney representing Romano, said, "Ms. Romano loves Kingston and is not willing to give up on him. An appeal is forthcoming." Now that the dangerous dog hearing and the outcome of Kingston is known, we certainly hope that prosecutors file criminal charges against Romano.


01/25/21: Dangerous Dog Hearing
The dangerous dog hearing involving the fake service dog, "Kingston," belonging to Jennifer Romano began Friday in Montgomery County. On January 9, Romano took Kingston to the Loose Caboose in Old Town Spring wearing a service dog vest. As a 3-year old girl walked toward the register, Kingston suddenly snapped at her face. "He came out of nowhere and lunged and grabbed my baby by the face… and he shook her,” the mother testified at a video hearing Monday.

Romano fled the scene with Kingston after the facial attack. Little Ronin needed 14 stitches for multiple lacerations and puncture wounds, reports the Houston Chronicle. She will also need plastic surgery, her mother Cleveratta Gordon-Waldroup said. As of Monday night, the family has already raised $21,000 to help pay for the "legal action and continuous medical expenses," states the fund. Today, a witness testified that Kingston had a history of biting people in the face.

"Attorney Ronald Chen called Lily Ferguson, 19, a former roommate and friend of Romano’s, who told the court this wasn’t the first time Kingston had bit someone in the face. In June, Ferguson said, “He ripped my lip open and bit me under my left arm.” Ferguson explained she never made a formal report about the dog bite, which she said she regretted. But she subsequently sued Romano over the injury." - Houston Chronicle, January 26, 2021

This is not the first rodeo for Romano keeping a dangerous pit bull that attacked multiple victims. In 2013, the case of "Gus" was also played out in Montgomery County. Gus was spared death and sent to California, where the dog ended up on death row again after attacking again. A Texas judge later found that Romano was negligent and misrepresented her qualifications as a dog trainer, ordering her to pay $1.3 million in damages to a victim that Romano never paid a dime of.

On Tuesday, defense will call witnesses to make his case that Kingston's life, like that of Gus, should be spared after attacking multiple people and kept under the ownership of Romano, who has already been found by a court to be an unqualified dog trainer and sued at least three times for severe injuries inflicted by Kingston and Gus. Romano also faces potential criminal charges under Texas statutes after the attack on Ronin and for fleeing the scene after injury to a child.


01/15/21: Biting Dog Impounded
The fake service pit bull that attacked 3-year old Ronin Waldroup in the face last week 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...

2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Unidentified Woman Dies After Pit Bull Attack in Tallahassee, Florida

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.

Working at an Open Intake Shelter: Deliberate Breed Mislabeling, Aggressive Dogs and Unprepared Adopters

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...