Last week, 65 year old Betty Ann Chapman Todd died from dog bite injuries in Hodges, SC. There are few details in the cause of the attack.
Chapman Todd was babysitting a 17 month old child while the parents went out to dinner. According to reports, she regularly baby sat the children, so she was familiar with the dog. Another child at the home called the parents to inform them of the attack, and the parents called 911. When the officers arrived, they found the victim on the living room floor with fatal injuries to her neck.
According to officers at the scene, the dog involved "appeared to be a pit bull".
The incident happened in the 29692 area code -- which has a poverty rate more than 50% higher than the national average.
My heart goes out to the family of the victim, and in particular the children who may have witnessed the attack. I do hope they are able to find the resolution to what circumstances may have led up to the attack.
I'll post more details if they become available. The story has been picked up by about a dozen media outlets.
Update: Even though the owner of the dog initially reported that the dog in this story had never shown any aggression before, according to a more recent media report, the dog had previously killed a Husky that lived with the family. The owners then took the dog in to be neutered in hopes of that curing his aggression.
I think this highlights two things that are very important.
#1) As we know, dogs show signs of aggression. And a fatal dog attack is almost never a dog's first sign of aggression, it is their last. If we teach people to recognize aggressive signals they will be better prepared to handle the aggression and get training for it. "My dog has never been aggressive before" is a line to deflect blame, generally not a fact.
#2) We also need to quit telling people that neutering will stop aggression. It won't. While it can be helpful for stemming some unwanted behaviors, the science does not support that it will stop aggressive behavior. Training is the best way to curb aggressive behaviors and we need to be better at informing people that have dogs that show aggression the need for training -- not surgery -- as a response.