Earlier this month, a new study came out that highlighted some of the many factors that were common themes among dog-bite-related fatalities over a 10 year stretch. As expected, the results included the reality that there were a lot of environment factors that were common themes in these attacks, and that in most cases, it was multiple environmental factors at once that were in play to help create the circumstances for a fatal dog attack.
It's important to to note that dogs are exceptionally safe -- with only around 30 of the nation's 80 million dogs being involved in a fatal dog bite incident each year. So when tragic events happen, it's important to look at the incidents in a full-circle look to determine what factors were most likely causal factors of such an incident. In the three most recent cases, you'll note many of the common elements from the study come into account -- including very young children who's interactions with dogs were not supervised, a situation involving criminal child neglect, and a situation where dogs were kept in near-isolation from human interacting and left chained and neglected.
Jah'niyah White -- 2 years old, Chicago, IL
Based on the media reports, it certainly sounds like there is a LOT about this incident that we aren't being told that will undoubtedly come out in future reports. But based on what is currently being noted, is that 2 year old Jah'niyah was left wto stay at her grandfather's house while her mother was at work.
However, due to circumstances that have yet to be reported, the young girl was tragically attacked and killed by two dogs (described as 'pit bulls' by the family) that were owned by her grandfather.
While autopsy results confirmed involvement by the dogs, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office offially ruled that the young girl had been neglected and died as a result of injuries suffered during a dog attack. Neglect has officially declared as a "contributing factor". The examiner's office has ruled the girl's death to be a homicide.
As of the most recent media reports, the grandfather has yet to be charged in the girl's death, but it sounds like that may be coming soon -- at which point more evidence about the circumstances of the neglect will be available. Young toddlers left unsupervised with dogs are among the most vulnerable to major dog attacks such as this.
The news story was widely reported in the media. The incident also happened in the 60617 zip code, where more than 25% of the population (nearly double the national average) lives below the poverty line.
Mia Gibson, 3 months Old - Columbus, OH
According to the media reports, 3 month old Mia Gibson was asleep with her father on the sofa and at some point rolled off of the sofa and fell onto the floor. The infant was then apparently fatally injured by the family's two "Shiba Inus" where were said have been playing roughly with her causing fatal injuries. Authorities definitely made attempts to clarify this as not an "attack".
The girl's father says that he slept through the incident.
One other point that I think is important here is that I've now read from multiple different sources that the infant was actually born very premature -- and at three months old, was actually at about the point where her mother would have been full term. So while a 3 month old infant is definitely fragile, it appears that young Mia may have been exceptionally fragile for her age.
The incident has been ruled a "tragic accident". While much of the reporting on this one was local, and fairly reasonable, one news station ran a story with the ridiculous headline "How dangerous is a Shibu Inu?" Of course, it's easy to laugh at the headline when a Shibu Inu is involved, but it's equally ridiculous if the headline would have been replaced with any other breed of dog following an incident such as this.
Michal Nelson - 41 - Jarales, NM
Based on the media reports, 41 year old Michal Nelson was attacked and killed by one of 12 dogs that belonged to the woman.
I'm posting a visual here to help set the scene. But according to reports, Nelson went into this pen where all 12 dogs were chained up and was breaking ice out of the dogs' water bowls. Based on other visuals, this pen seems to be pretty far away from any type of residence.
As Nelson was breaking up the ice from the water bowls, that one of the dogs attacked her, and wounded her fatally. All 12 dogs were described as "pit bulls" that were apparently being used for breeding.
In the study on fatalities launched earlier this month, there is a very detailed part of the report that talks about "resident" dogs vs "family dogs" -- whereas family dogs reside in homes, with families, "resident" dogs are kept separate from the family. According to the researchers, one explanation for the reason why a disproportionate number of "resident dogs" are involved in attacks like this is because they lack the proper human socialization to properly cue off of unusual circumstances.
In this case, the dogs are all clearly kept as resident dogs. All were chained, and the living conditions would definitely be described as poor.
The keeping of dogs in this type of manner would definitely be a contributing factor to a major dog attack incident.
The community of Belen, NM, where the incident occurred, has 35% of its residents living below the poverty line -- which is more than double the national average -- and it appears that it was definitely a factor in the attack.
My heart goes out to the families in all of these cases as these tragedies are all so often tragically avoidable.