A 74 year old Titusville, FL woman, Loraine May, was found dead on Thursday following what appeared to be a major dog attack. The woman died due to "blunt force trauma" to her head, and dog bites all over her body that were too numerous to count. The two dogs involved in the attack are described as a Golden Retriever/Labrador mix and an Austrailian Shepherd mix.
Neighbors said the Golden Retriever/Labrador mix was known to be aggressive and said that the two dogs regularly fought with each other. Police believe May died while trying to intervene in a fight between the two dogs. There was a third dog in the home, a Cocker Spaniel, that is not believed to be involved in the attack.
I'm sure we'll hear more about the story in the coming days -- and I'll keep updates current on this particular post, but based on the current evidence there are several things we could learn from Ms. May's death, if we choose to:
1) Dog aggression toward other dogs, while not terribly common, is not isolated to certain breeds or types of dogs.
2) If your dog has aggression issues, you MUST deal with those issues to temper the behavior. Get a trainer if you must. Not doing so can put you and others in danger.
3) Major attacks by dogs on people are almost never their first sign of aggressive behavior.
4) Until we start talking about dog attacks as DOG issues, instead of breed specific issues, people will continue to ignore issues that put people's lives in danger. We MUST start talking about aggressive canine behavior as a canine issue, because it is. When we talk about "breed" we cause people to not understand the real issues and don't educate them on real life situations. That's when tragedies like this one occur.
My heart goes out to Loraine May's family as they deal with this tragedy.
UPDATE: 7/3 -- This story ended up getting picked up by 20 or so media outlets throughout the state of Florida. But none outside of the state. This is a dramatic difference from the attack last week in Weslaco that was picked up by over 140 media outlets across the country, including many major news outlets like CNN and MSNBC.