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Boy Mauled and Killed by Family Dog

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For this 4-year-old, "man's best friend" was just the opposite.


Over the weekend, a 4-year-old boy in Chicago was mauled to death by the family Rottweiler. The boy was in the backyard playing with the dog when it attacked him. His dad, who had been using a snow blower in the front yard at the time of the attack, discovered his son's lifeless body. The family's three dogs were removed from the home and have been euthanized.

The CDC estimates that almost 5 million people a year are bitten by dogs in the United States, with as many as 800,000 people, more than half of them children, requiring medical attention for their dog bites. Many of these cases are fatal, or leave kids disfigured for life.

Here are a few cases that sent shivers down our spine:

  • 3-year-old Tony Evans was found dead in front of the doghouse after being attacked by a pit bull. The pit bull was chained to the house, but made its way to the boy.
  • 5-year-old Pablo Hernandez was mauled to death by the family pit bull in their backyard. He was dragged around the backyard, suffering major damage to his face, head and torso and died shortly after from his injuries.
  • 1-year-old Abraham Jonathan Tackett wandered into the neighbor's backyard where several husky mixed breeds were eating. The father found the child as he was being attacked, but could not save him. According to reports, the dog that attacked was protecting his food.
  • 2-year-old Holden Jernigan was attacked and killed by the family's pit bull. While under his grandmother's care, he wandered into the backyard where he was brutally attacked.
  • 6-year-old Sabin Jones-Abbott was attacked by the family's new pit bull/boxer mix as he went to feed it. The boy's father found his lifeless body in their home.
  • 15-month-old Charlotte Blevins was seriously injured when she and her mom, her mom's friend, and another baby on an afternoon walk were attacked by a pit bull when the dog escaped from its leash.
  • 2-year-old Amaya Hess had a pit bull latch on to her head with his mouth for 5 to 8 minutes. The claw end of a hammer was used to open the dog's jaw to release her. Amaya's scalp was missing, her right eye out of its socket and her right ear was torn from the side of her head. After 9 surgeries and 69 days of medically-induced coma, Amaya is facing years of reconstructive surgery. Doctors estimate she'll have somewhere between 30 to 40 surgeries over her lifetime.

Are dogs safe for kids?

We spoke with Colleen Lynn, founder of, who said some are -- and some aren't. "There are aggressive breeds of dogs, including pit bulls and rottweillers, that I don't think are appropriate to have around children. They don't have a good safety record, and you are definitely taking a chance."

Lynn, who survived a pit bull attack herself a year ago, says even going to someone's house who has a pit bull or a dangerous breed is a unnecessary risk for your children. "These dogs were bred for violence," she says. "It's in their genes. Even if they have good owners, love is not going to take genetics away. Why take the chance, if it could cost your kid his or her life?"

Of course, some dog owners (particularly pit bull owners) disagree. One mother named Elyse posted the following video of her baby Max with her pit bull on YouTube:

Whether you are pro-dog or anti-dog, everyone agrees you should never leave a baby or small child unattended with a dog under any circumstances (even if it's the family pet). For more dog bite prevention tips, click here.

Do you think dogs are dangerous for kids?

next: Brushing Your Teeth May Prevent Preterm Birth
96 comments so far | Post a comment now
M January 14, 2009, 7:17 AM

I get tired of hearing how bad dogs can be when in fact it is USUALLY irresponsible owneres.Children need to be Taught how to treat an animal, any animal. How many times have we seen children pull their ears, jump on their back, pull their tail, poke their eyes…and people thinks that is cute or funny??!! Does this animal not feel pain? YES folks they do and eventually will strike back.So be responsible and teach some respect to your children and other peoples children. Your pet isn’t always the bad one and Never leave a child unsupervised around any animal!

Brianne Baker January 14, 2009, 12:36 PM

I think the key point here is not the breed of dog, despite the fact that some people can’t seem to let go of it, but rather the lack of supervision of children with dogs. No child should ever be left alone with any dog, regarless of what type of dog it is or how long they have known each other. Furthermore, its tragic that NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF DOG IS INVOVLED IN THE BITE INCIDENT, (in this case a Rottie) SOMEONE BRINGS UP A PITBULL. Not all pitbulls are evil creatues despite some people saying: “These dogs were bred for violence,” she says. “It’s in their genes. Even if they have good owners, love is not going to take genetics away” the truth is any dog is a danger if untrained, unsupervised, and uncared for. And why are children typically the victims? One, because parents dont “train” thier kids when they bring a new dog into the house. Dogs are pack animals and every family member needs to work with the dog and learn the “rules” regarding thier pets. More education needs to go out about how to raise a family that includes both dogs and children. If you are interested please log onto SPBR.Org and check us out!

Jessica Wheatcraft January 14, 2009, 1:58 PM

This is a tragic incident to hear about, but unfortunately this news article is completely biased. It is a typical “family dog attacks child” story that so many of us get caught up in. How about the journalists report some details that might actually help the general public learn how to prevent dog attacks,such as : why the boy was alone with the dog? was the dog a true “family” dog that lived indoors and had a bond with the child? what was the purpose of the dog (pet, protection, for breeding), was the dog neutered? how long did they have the dog? etc… This is the real info people need to have, not just the breed of dog. I find it audacious that the dog in the story was a rottweiler, yet they have a picture of a pit bull for the story. They then go on to recount several other stories that “sent shivers down their spine” about other dog attacks using almost all pit bulls. It is a documented fact that pit bulls are not responsible for the majority of dog attacks, and that media reports are not a valid source of information because they often label the dog to be a pit bull when it is actually another breed. These kinds of reports make my blood boil. They are biased, unnaccurate, and simply fuel breed hysteria. It is not information, it is infotainment. Shame on them.
A true journalist researches the true facts and presents them. But since this person didn’t do so please educate yourself. has the most up to date, accurate statistics on dog attacks and how to prevent them.

Natalie January 14, 2009, 7:08 PM

800,000 is less then 1/5 off all the dog bites estimated. Considering the number of irresponible owners out there is much higher then 1/5 of dog owners I’d say thats not so bad. It could probably be lowered if the proper legisaltion was passed forcing stronger punishment on owners and education for childern. I also wonder why the author of this article started with a Rottweiler story only to discuss primarily pitbulls in the remaining circumstances. When looking over the different cases given I see irresponsible dog owners AND irresponsible parents. In all but one of the situations the parents were responsible for allowing a situation to araise that put thier child at risk. As far as certain breeds having a bad safety record… its just not true if you did some research that didnt involve the bais media. We have a rash of irresponsible owners which have created this issue. Just to clarify pit bulls were once nicknamed “nanny dogs” because the were so good with children. They were breed to be aggressive toward other dogs NOT toward people. Temperment testing has been done on the breed proving they are just as evenly tempered as other breeds but these are dog who has owners who care enough to handle and be responsible about them. see for the results of the tests. Children need to be educated from a young age whither they own dogs or not how to act around dogs and how to protect themselves if the do face an act. Parents and Irresponsible owners need to be held accountable for thier actions or inactions not the breed or the children in which their actions effect.

Trina January 16, 2009, 4:37 PM

To Dan:

“Anyone that thinks breeding has nothing to do with the behaviour of a dog knows nothing about dog breeding. A breeder selects a sire and a dam to produce offspring. The sire and dam are chosen based on whatever criteria a breeder wants to see in the puppies. Dogfighters, gang bangers, etc. breed the most aggressive dogs so they can get aggressive prospects for the fighting pit or protecting the drug house or whatever. This leads to major problems. It’s not a question of nature vs. nurture, because it really comes down to both.
- Dan
Posted 01/13/09 10:00 PM”

Soooo… Dogfighters and gang bangers and people who live in drug houses are the only people who love and have pitbulls??? It is amazing how simple minded people can be. Some people know nothing except what they are fed from tv and movies. Wow. The masses of the US.

Danielle January 18, 2009, 9:47 AM

Aside from a variety of dogs — each of these incidents have something in common — irresponsible parents and/or irresponsible dog owners.

Steve January 21, 2009, 7:48 AM

The sheer ignorance of the people responding and the willful ignorance and irresponsibility of the “journalists” who report these stories is staggering. It shows a incredible lack of understanding of the problem, a clear bias against a breed based on nothing but a very SHORT set of data, and a willing desire to remain ignorant.

Go back to the 70s and earlier. Look at the dog stats. Try and find pitbulls (which is a generic name that spans MANY dog breeds) on the list. Rott’s? A couple. Doberman’s and German Shepherds top the list for fatal attacks. Why? Because they were the “Tough Dog Du Jour” of that time. And stupid people who wanted a tough dog got them.

Pit Bulls are the new “Tough Dog Du jour” and once again.. the stupid and ignorant are getting them.

The only reason you hear about these attacks (and most of them are incorrectly attributed to “pit Bulls” through willful ignorance) is because they’re sensational stories.

When your little yappy football sized dog bites and nips people think it’s cute.. They don’t think about the babies and children facially maimed, who have their fingers and toes bitten off, or even have their genitalia maimed because the dog chewed through their diapers because nobody died so there’s no story.

And the sheer scope of the issue is lost on people. How many “pit bull”
attacks occur every year? How many fatalities? Then compare that number to how many “pit bulls” are in this country. You end up with a very small percentage. In fact Golden Retrievers are more likely to bite than “pit bulls”.. Don’t believe it? Look up the stats. Actually educate yourself about the subject before emotionally spouting off and revealing your ignorance about the subject.

And for the record before the usual distractions and attempts to change the subject to “You’re just another blind pit bull owning apologist” begin.. I’ve been involved with dog training and K9 clubs for over 38 years and I don’t particularly care for or personally like any of the bull breeds. Just not my cup of tea.

KMS January 30, 2009, 9:45 AM

I can say from experience that, while I don’t doubt that some (or many) dogs attack because they weren’t raised right, there’s definitely a genetic component- some dogs are just aggressive.

We had a dog who we got as an 8-week old puppy, an American Bulldog cross. He was adorable and the biggest baby with us, even as he grew into a big, muscular dog. We did everything we were supposed to- lots of attention and exercise, early socialization, neutering at an appropriate age and attending a training (obedience) class.

None of it stopped him trying to attack everyone who came to the door- friend or stranger. Not barking aggressively- lunging and trying to bite. The trainer at our obedience class said he admired the work my husband was doing, but said that our dog was not welcome in future courses- his aggression toward the other dogs was too disruptive. When I was pregnant, our vet warned me that our dog was a danger to the baby (after we went for vaccinations and had to muzzle the dog because he tried to bite the vet).

It was my husband’s dog, and it was his decision what to do with him- I was paranoid for months after the baby was born about making sure he was NEVER alone with the dog, even though the dog seemed to accept him. It took the dog actually biting a friend (not seriously, thank God) as she came in the door for my husband to decide to have the dog euthanized. It was heartbreaking for us, but our child’s safety (and that of our friends, the mailman, etc.) was more inportant.

All of this long, rambling story is just to say that while I don’t agree with completely banning certain breeds of dog, there are breeds and certainly individual dogs that are predisposed toward aggression, and I think breeding for ANY type of dog should be controlled. Maybe if only professionals were breeding dogs, there would be better control over what traits get passed on.

Shelly January 30, 2009, 5:37 PM

There is way to many people defending dogs, children all losing their lives here, people are being attacked. Who cares about the dog.

manny January 31, 2009, 11:31 AM

you people out there reading the stories above and saying “seeing a pattern” about pitbulls, well ya’ll are closed minded and obviously don’t know anything about pitbulls. I have a blue pitbull that i rescued because he was tied up and thrown to other bigger pitbulls who were TRAINED by IRRESPONSIBLE AND IGNORANT PEOPLE!!!!!!! Pitbulls are not vicious or mean they are made that way by PEOPLE. I know of a Gotti pitbull who follows an autistic boy around the house next door and will sit in front of the stairs so he will not attempt to go up the stairs and my fall back. ALL of you PITBULL HATERS please be more open minded and quit making it harder for this loyal and beautiful breed. You all need to be the ones that need to be euthinized.

Joanne February 4, 2009, 10:53 AM

There are three reasons dogs bite:
1) Not trained
2) Not exercised
3) Not neutered

Put all three together and there’s an attack waiting to happen.

And BTW, in both the US and Canada only about 1% of all reported dog bites occur in parks and recreational areas, even in areas where off-leash is allowed. More than 70% happen in the dog’s own home or yard. Get the picture?? A regularly exercised dog is physically and mentally stable.

Joe February 8, 2009, 5:28 PM

As far as I am concerned people who keep pit bulls or any dogs that are KNOWN to attack chldren do not care about their kids saftey at all or are just plain stupid. They are bloody horribel looking anyway. You can be the best dog handler in the world but at the end of the day most of these owners believe that their pet ‘wouldn’t hurt a fly’? Do they know that for 100% fact? NO! Put your children first for gods sake, get a goldfish.

Ju February 26, 2009, 2:33 AM

For the longest time I wanted a big, hulking dog. Until I had my daughter. Though I joke about getting a large dog and putting a saddle on it for her to ride (think Great Danes, it’s what they were used for occasionally way back when) I don’t even want a mini, tea-cup anythingl. It’s bad enough with my hubby’s cat (who lives with “Gamma” in the states), because she wants to play with Kitty. ANY animal can bite a child and cause it harm, not just dogs. Cats bite, too and scratch. The bottom line is that children should NEVER be left alone with ANY animal.

Anonymous March 15, 2009, 11:06 AM

I’m soo tired of everyone jumping on the Anti Pit Bull train, just because of the stuff the media reports. People should really learn the facts about these dogs..(oh not too mention pit bull is a term used for generalization of characteristics shared by some dogs..) Why not report about the small dog attacks? There is common sense and owner responsibility when owning any dog..but no people want to just say it’s this breed so it’s bad..The media only reports the bad stories of certain breeds..not the fact that those same certain breeds actually used to be used as help dogs, and soo much more. People just want to be ignorant and take what the media says for heart and not learn the facts for themselves. Kudos for all the people who have posted and realized that common sense is a key factor in owning any dog!

Sosha March 25, 2009, 2:09 PM

It isnt right for people to only beleive that certain breeds are more aggressive than other. Ive watched my black lab mix get into a fight with a pitbull over me, he was protecting me, and he won. The matter of a dog being aggressive is based on its raising and what it is protective of. No parent should leave a baby around any animal that has the potential to hurt it, thats just plain stupid and ignorant. If anyone comes between an animal and its food, of course its gonna snap, its their instinct. Hell, a bird will bite the crap out of someone before most dogs will even think about nibbling. So how bout people start posting things about how dogs protect or how they fight for what they love, or even try putting in the reason why they attacked, cause the majority wont attack for no reason.

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