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« Very good sentences -- and thoughts on poverty, and animals | Main | Rhode Island takes steps to prohibit breed-specific laws »

June 20, 2013


Liz Senteney

What ISN'T mentioned here is, according to reports, the child was bitten at 11:30am, and did not receive medical treatment until 2pm. That's a HUGE gap, not to mention how long after the bite the child passed away.

Many speculate this dog was "human aggressive." Not the case. If appears it was a warning bite, one single bite on a child who was climbing on the dogs back. Most ANY dog would do that, regardless of breed. The dog is not at fault and neither is the child. The supervising ADULTS are only to blame.

Linda Amato

Interestingly enough we just had an "almost" incident last week with my EXTREMELY well trained, tolerant Boston Terrier. We were at my grandsons second birthday party. The boy requested his attendance; they love each other (and are still always supervised). As a note: Christmas time is big. Presents are handed out me, my husband, the dog. He gets a LOT of gifts! So my grandson starts opening his gifts. On the third gift, my dog feels this should have been his and with "crazy-eyes" went for the gift in his hands! Luckily, I was on the floor and grabbed the dogs harness. He was put behind the gate (where he went to his "safe spot", the bed we bring from home, to sulk, and my grandson never knew what "almost was". Had he been unsupervised, and tried to protect his gift from the dog the ending could have been very different. I was shocked my well behaved baby did this till I thought about it. He had ALWAYS gotten a gift; why not now? I will be retraining him next year, so he will still receive gifts but not in the same manner.


Thanks again for trying to educate people. Each dog attack is unique and no reflection on any other dog or any other person, no matter how much some of the media or anyone else tries to make it so. Understanding dogs, dog behavior and the steps in preventing dog bites is so important with more people and more dogs around. My sympathies to the family and the dog. Sad once again.


I believe it is significant to note that according to the boy's aunt, and wife of the dog's owner, the dog "was never allowed in the house". While she also said he had always been obedient and had played with the children, never presenting problems, the statement that the dog was never allowed into the house is a sad giveaway - revealing that this poor dog was not a member of the family, but was instead a "resident" dog consigned at all times to the isolation of the back yard. This lack of continuous socialization and family membership could well have also contributed to the tragic incident. (Owner's quote taken from: )


Sorry, but my end parenthesis got turned into part of the link to my source - so the link won't work until it's removed.


I fixed it Yolanda. And yes, I do think that's worth noting...


I honestly don't think his autism played a factor because how many creepy DOG LOVES BABY videos are on youtube with typical children doing that exact same thing (while the parents film and laugh about it?)? Many trainers have jumped into the comments section only to have the parents say that their dog would never hurt Johnny and it's obvious that he's enjoying being ridden/hopped on/whatever the dog clearly isn't liking. They're all bites waiting to happen. This one just happened to happen, unfortunately for poor Nephi. My heart goes out to his family tonight. It's just so frustrating when it's preventable in many ways, as this one appears to be.


Interesting how the addition of breed to the story changes the conversation (and who bothers to join the conversation). A couple of weeks ago the NY Times magazine featured an essay ("The Dog Bit Me":, follow-up: by a woman whose son had been badly bitten in the face. Comments focused almost exclusively on behavior of the parent, child, and dog involved. The incident was treated as a preventable tragedy, not an inevitable mauling.

Dianne R

There is also a good write up and discussion on the Bad Rap blog:

Thanks Brent and Donna for addressing this in a calm, sensible way. Yes, Yolanda, I also think the distinction of resident dog is important - more for what it says about how the people treated the dog than the dog's behavior.

Pat F.

What a sad incident.

Parents should supervise the interaction of children and dogs; and know their dogs' limits and either teach the kids to respect those limits or restrict the children's contact with dogs.. Dogs are not animated stuffed animals to be pushed, pummeled, poked. They're not ponies or rocking horses either. Especially not a poorly socialized outdoor dog.

I am very sorry for the poor child, the dog, and the parents; despite their ignorance, they did not deserve to lose a child. This should never have happened.


If "the child was left alone with the dog and the child was a bit rough with the dog" were a suitable explanation for a fatal attack,then most people (past or present) would not have owned dogs.

This is bizarre behavior from a domesticated dog and it is a behavior that seems concentrated in a few breeds. A few 1,000 labrador retrievers are ridden like horses everyday, but that breed does not have a single fatality this year.


Yes, lots and lots of kids ride or roughhouse with their dogs without fatal consequences--but there are a whole lot of non-fatal bites from it. Like, thousands and thousands, from breeds of all kinds that don't make the front page.

This one sounds like a genuine fluke: not a sustained attack or deliberate out-to-kill mauling, but a single bite that just landed badly and went horribly wrong. Similar to another bite from a family dog--in that case a Weimaraner--which resulted in the death of a child. The parents of that youngster, bless their hearts, started a foundation in his memory and speak movingly--and with real moral authority--of how they realized they ignored the warning signs. Their story can be found at

Dog bites shouldn't have to be fatal or severe for us to learn that we, and our children, need to respect what they tell us. "If it doesn't kill us" or "If the dog doesn't actually bite" it must be "Okay" isn't a humane education message that empowers parents and children to learn more and be more aware about dogs.


Emily, as far as it being a fluke bite, you should read google news this fatality and read more about the actual bite. The dog gripped the child's head in its mouth and several people tried to remove the child before someone was successful. I think it is inaccurate to classify this as a simple bite.


Actually Todd, that's not how this is being described at all. It is being said that the dog bit the child and released immediately upon someone coming to help the child. The child's injury was also not believed to be severe, requiring only a "few stitches" and the uncle went to work and the child wasn't taken to the hospital for a couple of hours.


I discussed this tragedy with my mother, who has more than 30 years experience as a CC RN. That means her specialization is Trauma medicine, so she has extensive knowledge concerning the worst kinds of injuries.

She stated that it would be unlikely beyond comprehension for what appeared to be a minor bite with no reason for concern to cause what is believed to be the cause of death (a brain hemorrhage), and based on the other information we have on the case it is likely the child had already sustained the injury which caused the hemorrhage. A dog biting with enough force to cause a brain hemorrhage would be VERY OBVIOUS, as animal bites that cause such injuries usually involve the skull being crushed. Such things are incredibly obvious. But someone hitting their head, such as when a large group of children were rough-housing as was in this case, can in fact result in a hemorrhage. And that the victim was already at the hospital and died anyway told her the bleed was VERY severe, and would require either a major blow to the head or a pre-existing issue.

She noted such a situation would NOT be classified as a Death resulting from a dog bite, as that seems to be unrelated to what we've been told happened.


I know that is not how it is being described in the articles you are linking to. That is why I suggested that others read more widely. There have been several reports on this incident that make it more clear how the bite could have caused internal injury.


Might check those sources Todd. Blogs, examiner articles, "opposing views" articles -- those are all essentially bloggers who are not generally on the scene of these incidents nor actually talk to any of the real sources. While I'm often critical of the media and their ability to report things accurately, they're far better at getting it right than these other made up sources. That's exactly why I wrote the last two paragraphs.


The examiner article that started the rumor that Darla Napora fell off a ladder two years ago was enough to show me how much that site and its writers are concerned with journalistic integrity.

Meanwhile, has there been a completed autopsy yet?


Why did you assume I was referring to a blog, examiner article, or something else? I was referring to an abc article that interviewed the family. I would think you'd be interested in information that you had not yet read and that might be informative.

As I said, go to google news and search for the location and breed attribution, and read the first 6 articles. You'll find that this was not a simple bite but that the dog had the boy's head in its mouth and it took an adult male, who came from upstairs, to make the dog stop.


Todd, in all fairness, there are more than 100 reports covering this story....most people would post an actual link to what they were referring to...

Jen Brighton

Arguing the semantics of the various news reports doesn't change the fact that (1) the child(ren) should never had been allowed to romp unattended with the dog, (2) the child should not have been trying to ride the dog, and (3) why in the heck if, as Todd states, the dog was clamped onto the child's head didn't the family rush the child to the hospital or at least a doctor right away regardless of whether there was blood or not?

I have two very strong dogs and I can tell you that if they were clamped onto a child's head to where an adult had to "make the dog stop" I wouldn't have taken it so lightly.

Sounds like a series of bad decisions on the part of the family and dog owner that led to this poor child's death.

Jen Brighton

On a side note, ToddR, despite your comments that certain breeds are more prone to this, Dr. Ian Dunbar, esteemed veterinarian, animal behaviorist, International speaker and dog trainer disagrees with you. Here's an interview about dog bites:

And a video clip where he talks about dog attacks and mentions the solid temperament of pit bulls and rottweilers. He says, WITH A GOOD OWNER, pit bulls are one of the best for working as therapy dogs with children in a psychiatric ward setting:

Dr. Dunbar has also created the dog bite severity scale used by many organizations.

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