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Baby Mauled and Killed by Pit Bull

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Are pit bulls a danger to kids?

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This week, an 11-month-old baby was killed after being attacked by the family pit bull.

Police said the baby was sleeping in a bed on the first floor when the dog came into the room and attacked the baby, dragging him to the floor. The baby's father told them he came into the room and tried to get the dog off the baby. When he was unable to free the baby, he shot the dog.

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 other 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 onto 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 torn 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.
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Are dogs safe for kids?

We spoke with Colleen Lynn, founder of DogsBite.org, who said some are -- and some aren't. "There are aggressive breeds of dogs, including pit bulls and rottweilers, 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 an 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: Jennifer Hudson's Baby News Gives Hope
94 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen April 24, 2009, 7:10 AM

I feel so sad that a child had to die but I put FULL blame on the parents. Just like it was stated in the article, these animals were bred for violence, it’s only common sense that you NOT have this type of animal in your home with children.

Anonymous April 24, 2009, 9:23 AM

I don’t think its “anti-dog” to pick the best breeds for your kid. I love all dogs, including pits. I have a mini dachshund. If all of these instances were kids getting mauled by mini-weiners, my dog would be gone, fast.

Kirstie April 24, 2009, 9:52 AM

A big issue with all of these instances cited is the phrase “found dead”. Why were these children being ‘found’ anywhere? It’s common sense that no child should EVER be left unsupervised with a dog, regardless of what breed it is; all dogs when provoked (which children often do unintentionally) will bite, though some have the capacity to do far more damage then others.

Yes, the pits are innately more dangerous because they have large teeth and strong jaws. They can be raised to be safe and friendly dogs, however - my neighbor’s had one I’ve played with my whole life. That doesn’t mean I was ever, or would ever leave my own children, unsupervised with a dog! They are animals and don’t know better; I feel awful for these parents to have seen their children killed or maimed, but those children SHOULD have been supervised.

ame i. April 24, 2009, 10:20 AM

Kirstie is absolutely right. When my first daughter was born, we had a 7 year old American Eskimo. She was a calm, kind dog but I didn’t leave either of my daughters unsupervised if she was in the house. I didn’t leave them unsupervised with the cats until they were steady walkers.
I agrees that some breeds are more tempermental & agressive than others but I don’t agree with labeling an entire breed as violent. As a teen, my friend’s pit bull was my favorite dog. He was calm, quiet, and loving. I hated my neighbor’s Chihuahua. I can’t count the number of times that little demon would come over, bark, growl, and actually attack my legs. A couple of well-placed kicks solved that problem, but I hated to do it.
I agree that bad owners are the problem.

birdsfly April 24, 2009, 10:40 AM

This is why I decided not to own a dog until I know I am done having children and the children I have are big enough to take care of and handle themselves apropriately with a dog. Even then we aren’t getting the German Shepherd my hubby wants (no offense to them, I grew up around a lot of perfectly nice GS but big dogs make me nervous, maybe it has something to do with almost being mauled by a black lab named “Princess”) in favor of a “family” breed like a beagle.

Anna April 24, 2009, 2:14 PM

PEOPLE: STOP GETTING PIT BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous April 24, 2009, 2:43 PM

No child should be left unsupervised with a dog or any animal that can cause harm. I believe these dogs were bred for violence but I also believe it takes the human to make it come out of them. If you play aggressively with a dog it will be aggressive because thats what its taught, if you are gentle and teach a dog like you basically would teach your own child I think there is a less chance of the aggression. Either way an animal should not be left alone with a child or vice versa.

Jill (the other one) April 24, 2009, 5:42 PM

The important thing to remember is that a domesticated animal is still an animal. Children should NEVER be left alone with animals. I agree that some breeds are safer than others, but I was bitten by my aunt’s poodle when I was three, so even a less aggressive-seeming breed can be a hazard. An animal is an animal. Use common sense, people.

littlepeapie April 24, 2009, 5:53 PM

I’m just saying, we never see these headlines:
Collie attacks toddler
Golden Retriever kills child

These dogs are certainly capable of it, but if you choose your dog, why chance it? Why get a dog who is genetically made to be mean? Even if you give it the best home in the world, it is still an animal, yes one of God’s beautiful creatures, but still an animal w/ your child….

Anonymous April 24, 2009, 6:28 PM

I agree don’t buy pit bulls a fair few people have them near where I live and they can’t control them very well when out walking them, and with 2 small kids,in fact daughter was licked by someones husky/wolf type dog because they weren’t strong enough to control it.
i mean fair enough you have this dog, then dont have kids, or have kids first then wait until they’re older then get the dog.
it always upsets me these headlines because how can they be so jaded as to think that the dog will be ok 100% of the time. And you know its always the people in the street saying its alright love it don’t bite….yeah right

Anonymous April 24, 2009, 6:50 PM

People SHOULD read up on a breed before they decide to bring one into the family home. Also NEVER leave a child alone with a animal. I have a yellow lab and it is the second one in 14 years. They are family dogs and you (meaning and adult) could take food right from its bowl without so much as a growl. Still my one year old lab was messing with me and a toy. I got nipped so I raised my voice. The dog jumped in the air and came down on the side of my one and a half year old sons face. Now he nearly got his eye, but it missed and scratch his face. Our dog also likes to take socks right off your feet and he has nipped our toes. So you just never know. LASTLY, if you invited people to your house, always put your pets out until they calm down or if it’s an aggressive breed, keep them out for the visit.

Mandy April 24, 2009, 7:06 PM

Pit bulls, because of their breeding, are more likely to react aggressively to kids being kids. And they can seem friendly, sometimes for years, and then unexpectedly attack a child. They are just NOT a safe breed to have around children - in my opinion, they’re not a safe breed to have around, period.

The other thing that people don’t seem to “get” is that it doesn’t matter if you’re in the room or not - an adult pit bull usually cannot be detached from it’s victim by a single person. A lot of these attacks have to be ended with baseball bats, knives, or guns. These dogs can’t just be pulled away once they make a decision to attack.

Anonymous April 24, 2009, 7:49 PM

i’m sorry but i had a pitbull and 3 kids at the same time growing up together the dog wouldnt hurt anybody we love our kids .our kids could ride on his back roll around with him he was the most gentle dog and trusted him 100% with my kids .now is anyone asking how these dogs were being raised.stop blaming one breed of dog when any animal can attack. people should start checking on how these dogs are being raised first before they start attacking these dogs

Beth April 24, 2009, 8:19 PM

Look, the reality is that dogs are dogs. Any dog can bite given the right circumstances and the right provocation.

The test is to respect the dog’s right to be a dog while simultaneously protecting your children and teaching them how to interact with the dogs. We’ve worked as hard to train our son (and soon our daughter) to handle our girls as we have to teach our dogs to behave around the kids.

I have labs, but one of them has bitten. The circumstances were such that we didn’t realize she was in pain, I went to grab her, and she bit. Since this was extremely out of character, our vet checked her six ways from Sunday, and discovered that she had a slab fracture of one of her teeth and had an exposed nerve. Remove the tooth and she’s back to her old self again.

There’s no perfectly childproof dog or perfectly dogproof child.

Anonymous April 24, 2009, 10:10 PM

My parents had a pit bull when we were growing up. We had her for 7 years and she was never once even remotely aggressive to anyone or anything. She was a pet (went to obedience classes, slept on our beds), we were a typical middle-class family. One night my sister and I were watching TV and laughing at something and the dog came in from the next room wagging and wiggling like she always did and then she grabbed my sister’s head in her mouth and started to shake it. Her tail was still wagging and she wasn’t growling. She would not let go. I remember my parents screaming and trying to beat her off. The attack lasted more than 10 minutes until my father finally knocked her unconscious with the vacuum cleaner. My sister (who was 6) lost an ear and most of her cheek on one side. She had 37 surgeries over the next 16 years. She belongs to a group of people that have been attacked by these dogs and the number of similar incidents is absolutely chilling. Anyone who claims these are just “regular dogs” is sadly misinformed and anyone who has one anywhere near their kids is playing a very dangerous game of russian roulette.

Bec Thomas April 24, 2009, 10:17 PM

Many breeds of dog have a high prey instinct, pitbulls being one of them, labs actually have a pretty high prey instince also although that doesn’t get reported on much and poodles have a pretty bad track record also amongst many others. Hunting dogs should be avioded with small children around, because they are hunting dogs, they have high prey instincts. Dogs with high prey instincts are more likely to attack young children because they are the size of prey. Many breeds of herding dogs generally are safer because of their long term breeding to get rid of that prey instinct, they don’t want a hearding dog to eat the sheep they are supposed to be herding. That is why you rarely hear of a collie biting someone. Some breeds of working dogs have been breed to be flock gaurd dogs, like German Shepard’s, Pulli’s and the like, you should avoid those breeds because they may try to protect their owners from they children.

Lyn April 24, 2009, 10:53 PM

“My parents had a pit bull when we were growing up. We had her for 7 years and she was never once even remotely aggressive to anyone or anything. She was a pet (went to obedience classes, slept on our beds), we were a typical middle-class family. One night my sister and I were watching TV and laughing at something and the dog came in from the next room wagging and wiggling like she always did and then she grabbed my sister’s head in her mouth and started to shake it. Her tail was still wagging and she wasn’t growling. She would not let go. I remember my parents screaming and trying to beat her off. The attack lasted more than 10 minutes until my father finally knocked her unconscious with the vacuum cleaner. My sister (who was 6) lost an ear and most of her cheek on one side. She had 37 surgeries over the next 16 years. She belongs to a group of people that have been attacked by these dogs and the number of similar incidents is absolutely chilling. Anyone who claims these are just “regular dogs” is sadly misinformed and anyone who has one anywhere near their kids is playing a very dangerous game of russian roulette.”

———————————————-

This is scary. I’m pretty sure there are no support groups for survivors of attacks by Labradors, or any breed other than pit bulls, for that matter. Why would anyone take this kind of chance with their kids?

Bobbie Lou April 25, 2009, 3:00 PM

I got bit by a dog that was a border Collie Lab cross mix. It was not a pit-bull. The dog was one that I picked up to adopt and was from a family that had kids. It was nice enough. It got a scared-aggressive reaction when I drove by some cows, climbed into the front seat and bit me 17 times while I was driving the car. I pulled over to the side of the highway and was able to get out. I was only attacked on the arms. Thank goodness. Please always transport dogs in a crate-even if you know the dog. I am certainly glad that a child was not in the car. Yes all dogs are a potential hazard to all children.

heather April 26, 2009, 6:51 PM

My brother had to put down his pit bull after it attacked his wife without provocation. He was afraid after that the dog would attack one of my nephews. I believe that to have a pit bull you should have a special license, no children and the animal should be sterilized to keep from further breeding of violent animals. In many states these dogs are not allowed outside without muzzles. What is it going to take for people to realize that 9 out of 10 pit bulls are going to attack for no reason but their own.

Julia April 27, 2009, 8:38 AM

I recently got a Bullypit (American Bull Dog/ Pittbull) and he is sweet as a button. I am tired of people judging this breed of animal as being violent and dangerous. I blame all the irresponsible owners who make this breed have a horrible rep. No child should be left alone with a dog at all at a young age. What are these parents thinking? It is horrible how this accidents happen and all could have been prevented if people would train there dog and if Responsible parents can have a more watchful eye.
My dog gets along great with other dogs, my cat, and people….but I would not leave him alone with kids…..EVER and you shouldn’t either weither it be a pitt bull or a pomeranian!
*remember to Spay and Nueter*


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