I've been wanting to write these articles less frequently as with my current time limitations, I'd much rather focus on the positive of dogs, and of things going on at our shelter, than on tragedies. Dogs are such an important part of the lives of many of us and I love celebrating the dogs in our lives.
However, a simple fact remains that the bond between dogs and humans is still broken at times when politicians pass laws based on the hysteria of the moment instead of looking deeper into the causes of high profile fatal attacks. This trend has certainly improved, as many cities are now looking and comprehensive animal control laws and enforcement that are focusing on the behavior of owners and dogs, and not on what dogs look like. This is great news to be sure.
So I'm going to do a little catching up this week, as we had several incidents that should be discussed (plus, I have a couple from early January I'm going to add to the end). The incidents follow the typical story lines and include multiple of the following: unsupervised children, dogs that are resident dogs (vs family dogs) and thus not well-socialized with the family, dogs roaming at large, low-income areas where other social issues exist, and dogs with a history of aggressive actions and have gotten loose from their kenneling before.
There's still a lot of information that will hopefully come out of this one, but in Paterson, NJ, a 115 lbs Bull Mastiff went after two 13 year old boys. The boys fled in opposite directions -- one boy had a bite on his hand, the other was found dead in a wooded area behind the dog's home. When the dog's owner came out to get the dog while officials were there, the dog bit the owner on the hand also -- and the owner stabbed the dog multiple times before animal control took the dog.
Neighbor's have reported that the dog had jumped over the fence before and bitten a child previously and that it was often somewhat aggressive. Neighbors report that the dog lived in the back yard of the home and never came indoors except for during Hurricane Sandy, including this winter's freezing temperatures. One neighbor noted that kids would often provoke the dog and try to get it to jump over the fence.
At this point, authorities are not commenting on whether or not the dog was provoked in this case, but it's particularly worth noting that it is important to impart on children the importance of respecting dogs and specifically not to taunt them. It also helps demonstrate that dogs that are left alone in a back yard where they cannon flea from taunting, etc can often become very defensive and will act out on their own accord.
Not much is known about this one either, so I'll update as more reports come in.
Based on the current media reports, a two year old boy was tragically killed in Killeen, TX. The young toddler was walking home from the park with an 8 year old girl and an 18 year old boy when the dog, described as a bull mastiff, ran from out of a garage and attacked the children. The dog apparently went after the 8 year old girl first, but once people came to help her, the dog turned on the 2 year old and inflicted fatal injuries.
In Tallassee, AL, a four year old girl was alone outside playing in her own yard when two dogs who were roaming at large attacked the young girl. The girl's grandfather went out to check on her and found one of the dogs, described as a "white german shepherd mix" on top of the young girld. The two dogs fled when the grandfather came outside. The other dog, which may or may not have been involved in the incident is being described as a "lab mix".
The young girl succumbed to her injuries.
Neighbors say the owners of the German Shepherd mix tried to keep the dog pinned up, but it often got out. Other neighbors have reported that the dog had previously eaten their chickens and was known to be aggressive toward people. It's also worth noting that there is no leash law in Tallasee.
Tallassee, AL is an area of very high poverty, with more than 43% of its residents living below the poverty line. I've noted before that in areas with high poverty tend to have significant breakdowns in their social structures and that the dog attacks tend to be a symptom of the struggling social structure. That appears to be the case here, where an inability to be able to maintain proper fencing seems to be an ongoing problem here.
There isn't a lot of information about theis incident, but Braelynn Coulter wa s 3 year old girl that was tragically killed by the family pet. The dog is being described as a "pit bull," and by most reports, appears to have been an indoor family pet (unlike most of the other dogs described here). It is worth noting that one of the major sections of a 10 year dog bite fatality study was that dogs that lived with the family were less likely to be involved in dog attack fatalities than outdoor dogs that lacked the human interaction to properly be able to read human behaviors.
The dog was said to have been aggressive before - -having broken through a fence to attack (and kill) a neighbor's dog. No information about the events that led up to the fatal attack on young Braelynn have been made available.
This story is from a couple of weeks ago, but 2 year old Je'veah Mayes wandered outside the home unattended, and walked up to a dog that was chained in the back yard. The dog, described as a 'pit bull' was being watched for a friend. The toddler walked up to the chained dog (the two do not appear to have been socialized together) and was tragically mauled by the dog.
It is also worth noting that the dog was a momma dog that also had two puppies with her that she may have been trying to protect.
I've often noted that young toddlers do not have the ability to read warning signals given by dogs. Thus, they can be very succeptable to attacks like this, particularly if a dog is chained and has no abilty to flee.
This story is from January:
Four year old Kara Hartrick was being babysat in her home by her grandmother. The young girl told her granmother that one of the three dogs in the home hurt her, so she began to try to separate the dogs from the girl. During that process, the dogs began to become aggressive and directed the aggression toward the young girl and began attacking her. The girl dended up dying from her injuries.
The family owned three dogs, 2 unaltered males, and one unaltered female. Authorities believe it was the two males that were responsible for the attack. All of the dogs are described as "pit bulls".
This is a truly tragic case where it appears that the person handling the dogs did not really know the dogs well and wasn't able to read particular behaviors well and it ended in tragedy.
This story if from early January:
The 43 year old Burleson was out for an early morning walk when she was tragically attacked by 3 dogs that were roaming at large. When people saw the woman in danger they came to help but unfortunately arrived too late. All three of the dogs were described as "pit bulls" and the owner of at least 2 of the dogs has been identified.
The attack follows the trend that most healthy adults that are involved in fatal incidents tend to be attacked by multiple dogs -- often roaming at large. While a healthy adult can usually defend themselves from a single attacking dog, a large group of dogs would provide significantly more risk.
The incident occurred in the 77061 Zip Code of Houston which has a 26% poverty rate -- nearly double the national average.