So, the past week or so has been a particularly hazzardous week when it comes to toddlers, and dogs. In the US, there have been now three young children killed by dogs in just the past 7 days.
And while there are people out there who seem to want us to be very fearful of dogs and are trying to create hysteria, they seem to miss that there is a major, common denominator in these cases.
So, in order of their happening, here are the cases:
Kotzebue, AK: 5 year old Jordon Reed was out playing in his front yard on Saturday night when his family reported him missing after he wandered off unsupervised. Local fire, police and search and rescue personel searched for the young boy only to find him dead in a field at 4 am on Sunday morning on the outskirts of town. The boy was determined to have been killed by dogs.
Police captured several free roaming dogs in the area -- one of which was believed to be involved in killing the boy.
Authorities report that packs of loose dogs have been an increasing problem in the small community. The dog involved in the attack was said to be a loose fugitive from a sled dog "musher's lot". The dog believed to be put down was said to be a "Husky mix".
Earlier this year, the city council passed an ordinance that required people who owned "vicious breeds" to carry insurance for their animals and keep them secured in penned yards. I don't have clarification on what breeds were a part of that ordinance, but it sure seemed like some type of leash requirement may have been in order (although leash laws tend to not be popular in rural settings).
Kotzebue is a small community of about 3200 people. The poverty rate of Kotzebue is about 16% -- about 33% higher than the state average.
Gilbert, AZ - An unnamed 2 year old boy was tragically killed by multiple dogs in his babysitter's home. The details of the event are still a little scarce, but according to the reports, the child was a specail needs child that was being babysat along with his four sibblings. There were also four dogs in the home.
At some point, it's being reported that a dog fight broke out among 3 of the dogs, and somehow, the young toddler ended up getting in the middle of the attack. The 28 year old babysitter was injuried trying to break up the fight between the dogs and the young toddler ended up suffering life-threatening injuries.
While authorites say that they may press charges on the sitter, it may also have been a case of the toddler being in "the wrong place at the wrong time."
Neighbors report that the dogs were usually kept outside.
The dogs are being described as 'mixed breed pit bulls" although from the visuals, they look more "mixed" than "Breed".
It's unclear at this point how closely the child and dogs were being supervised, however, I'd contend that no one person can fully supervise 5 children and four dogs by themselves....especially considering that all five of the children were apparently special needs.
Colton, CA - Two year old Samuel "went missing" at around 5:00 on Monday afternoon. After about a 30 minute search, the family found the toddler dead in the back yard of the home apparently killed by one or more of the five dogs that were in the back yard.
The dogs are being described as "pit bull mixes" -- although the dog in this picture is a mixed breed at most. Neighbors had often complained that the dogs were often kept in a stench an that they seemed "restless and starved for attention".
The boy was visiting some family members. The boy's uncle and grandmother have been arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment for not properly supervising the 2 year old toddler.
Colton, CA has a poverty rate of 28% -- nearly double the national average -- and poverty does seem to be an influencing factor in this case.
As you read through the the stories, common denominators arrise. In three of the cases, the toddlers were out in their yard unsupervised. In one case the amount of supervision is undetermined, but 5 special needs children and 4 dogs is a LOT for any one person to adequately supervise.
In all 3 cases there were multiple dogs involved. In all three cases the children were not well-socialized with the dogs. And in all three cases it appears the dogs were not terribly well socialized in the first place.
Two of the three cases happened in low socio-economic settings, where often dog issues are a symptom of larger social issues that exist in the area.
In all three of the cases the dogs were described as mixed breed dogs. One involved a "husky mix" the other two involved "pit bull mixes" -- although the dogs are very different in appearances and it is highly unlikely that they shared much, if any, genetic lineage.
As much as some sources might like to make this about different breeds of dogs, or dangerous dogs, or whatever, it's not. If we want to solve dog bite issues in this country we should focus on the circumstances, not the "breed" of dog.
For one, it is most likely that the attacks occurred by mixed breed dogs (which quickly dilute breed traits).
For another, there clearly other factors involved -- including, most importantly - -the need to adequately supervise children. When young children and toddlers are allowed to roam outside, they quickly become potential victims to a whole host of dangerous things in the world that they are not equipped to understand how to avoid. Meanwhile, it's also important that dogs get socialization -- and not be abandoned in back yard, or allowed to roam freely in packs.
My heart goes out to all of these families. These are true, tragedies, and all were avoidable.