Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

Animal behavior expert on dog bite attacks

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

Fatal dog attacks US 2009

  1. Georgia: 5 y.o. girl by 3 family pit bulls in backyard of her home. It was reported that the child was playing on a trampoline at the time of the attack, and the attack was initiated by one of the pit bulls, and the other two pit bulls, reportedly chained, broke their chains and joined in the attack. In Thomasville, GA on 1/5/09.
  2. Texas: A 3 y.o. girl crawled through a hole in the fence that separated her backyard from her neighbors which contained a 17-year-old by Rottweiler. The owner of the Rottweiler discovered the child still aive in his backyard. The Rottweiler had no reported history of aggression towards people. In Fort Worth, TX on 1/17/09.
  3. Pennsylvania: 8 y.o. girl by chained mix-breed dog in Hookstown, PA. on 1/19/09.
  4. Illinois: Four year-old boy attacked and killed by a Rottweiler, and possibly another household Rottweiler, in the backyard of the foster family home where the boy had been living. At the time of the attack, the child was alone, and the foster partents elswhere. Controversy over this fatality has arisen because of the appropriateness of placing this child in a foster home with dogs of this type. In Chicago, on January 12.
  5. Illinois: 3 week-old infant pulled off bed and mauled by family’s Siberian husky, in Bourbonnais, IL. on 1/19/09. Arizona: 2 week-old infant in crib by family owned chow in Mesa, AZ.about 3/3/09.
  6. Texas: 2 y.o boy in backyard of family home by female pit bull on 3/26/08 in Luling, TX. Investigation revealed that the dog had no prior history of aggressive behavior towards people, no prior complaints to animal control, and that the dog was chained at the time of the incident.
  7. California: 38 y.o man in backyard of home by his own two bull mastiffs, both of which were not neutered, and these dogs the victim may have been breeding. Animal control confirmed the female was in heat and the male reproductively intact at the time of the incident. Rancho Mirage, CA. on 3/16/09.
  8. Georgia: Three-year-old boy killed by a husky dog, or possibly a wolf hybrid, owned by a neighbor. The child reportedly had friendly interactions with the dog prior to the attack. It was reported that the attack commenced when the boy started crying, and the dog who was chained nearby, broke free from its collar and attacked the boy. The owner of the dog pulled the dog off the child, and killed the animal with gunshot. In Jesep on March 22.
  9. Texas: Seven month old attacked and killed by two male pit bulls when grandmother placed infant on bed and went to get a bottle. Grandmother tried stop the attack with kitchen knife, and the dogs and turned to attack her, but were eventually forced into the backyard. According to news reports, the pit bulls broke through the baby gate, and were reported to have a history of aggressive behavior. In San Antonio on April 1.
  10. Louisiana: 4 y.o. boy mauled to death by one or more boxer dogs owned by a next door neighbor. Three boxers escaped from their yard after being let of their kennel by the owner’s fiancé, and escaped into the neighbors adjacent backyard, encountered the boy, who was alone playing. It is uncertain as to how many of the dogs took part in the attack. No previous complaints about the dogs were on file with animal control. In Morganza on April 10.
  11. Arizona: A 48-year-old man was attacked by a pack of dogs but not killed on March 28 when he was walking along the drainage canal approximately 8 miles north of Yuma, Arizona, which borders California. He survived the attack, was hospitalized, but subsequently died in hospital on April 14 from dog-bite related injuries. As many as 11 dogs may have been involved in the incident
  12. Michigan: Three reproductively intact Australian shepherd mix dogs attacked and killed a 41-year-old man in his small trailer/camper, located on the property of the person who owned the dogs. The owner of the dogs, an elderly person, was a friend of the victim, and at the time of the incident was in hospital. News reports state that the victim received as many as 200 puncture wounds, covering most of his body. Neighbors say the dogs were very aggressive, and the dogs also attacked two friends who went to visit the victim, only to discover his mutilated body inside the camper. Police arrived and shot the dogs. It is unclear if the attack started inside or outside the camper. Near Kinda, Michigan on April
  13. Michigan: A 5 year old family pit bull jumped up on the bed where a one-year-old boy was standing, with the parents nearby, and supposedly without warning started attacking the victim, the attacks being directed towards the child’s head, and the dog would not let go. The father killed the dog by shooting him eight times with a 45 caliber handgun. Neighbors say the dog was aggressive by nature and were afraid to walk by the house on certain days, but family members told police that the dog had displayed no signs of aggression prior to the incident, and no previous attacks on humans by this dog were on record with animal control. In Eastpointe on April 22.
  14. Texas: A 59-year-old lady was attacked by her own adult male, Great Dane in her backyard in the Dallas area. This fatality is rather unusual because it involved a Great Dane (a breed infrequently involved fatalities), and the dog involved was used for show purposes. The incident occurred in mid-April, and the victims died a month later, presumably from the injuries she sustained. A witness to the attack said there was no apparent reason why the dog attacked, and although the presence of another dog at the time of the attack, a poodle, may have contributed to the incident, there is no direct evidence to substantiate this belief.
  15. Texas: Some dispute exists as to the breed of the two dogs which mauled a 10-year-old boy to death in Leverett’s Chaple, TX on June 15. The boy was riding his skateboard in this small, rural community when he encountered the two dogs who apparently had escaped from a nearby yard. Animal control claims that the dogs were pit bulls, but the owner of the dogs disputes this. Neighbors familiar with the dogs, say they were “mean”.
  16. Illinois: A three-year-old boy was attacked in front of his home after crawling out of a bedroom window. According to news reports, his parents, who were home at the time of the incident,were under the impression that the child was sleeping in the bedroom. Three dogs, owned by the victim’s parents, were identified as two pitbull mix dogs, and one Collie mix dog. They were loose in front of the house when they encountered the child. It is not known how many of these dogs participated in the mauling. in Johnson City, Illinois on June 28.
  17. Arizona: Victim was a petite, 90-year-old female; incident happened in Phoenix, and victim was attacked and killed by a neighbor’s dog during her walk in the neighborhood. The attack occurred on July 20, and the victim died six days later after surgery to repair the dog bite wounds. The dog involved was an American bulldog. Previous to this attack, the owners of the dog were cited previously for another dog bite incident involving this dog.
  18. Georgia: An elderly couple was killed by a pack of as many as 11 dogs in rural, Georgia, near Lexington. One of the victims was a retired University of Georgia German professor, and his wife, a librarian. The incident occurred on or about about August 17th, and happened first to the 65-year-old wife during an early evening walk, and her husband, a 77-year-old man, who went looking for her in his car, and found her, but then was also fatally attacked by the same group of dogs. News reports state that the man may have tried to fight the dogs off. The victims bodies were later found by some Jehovah’s Witnesses. Apparently, this was a free roaming group of feral domesticated dogs, not owned by anyone, but they were cared for by a local resident who occasionally fed the dogs at his property. No criminal charges were brought against this caretaker, however.***
  19. West Virginia: On or about August 17 in Rio,West Virginia by a one year old pit bull who attacked and killed a three-day-old boy. The incident happened after the mother had placed the infant on her bed in her bedroom, and she left the room to answer the telephone, and upon her return she discovered the pitbull sniffing around the baby. The mother attempted to nudge the dog away, but the dog persisted in getting closer to the child, and about this time another dog, a mixed German shepherd, entered the bedroom. The mother attempted to keep the second dog away, and the pit bull grabbed baby and failed to release him, despite the mother’s attempt to choke the dog. A 17-year-old daughter then entered the room cornered the dogs, and was able to push them through an open bedroom window.
  20. Virginia: in Leesburg on or about August 12. A 20-year-old man was fatally mauled by two pit bull dogs, owned by the victim’s brother. Other dogs were discovered in the residence where the attack took place, but according to news reports only the pit bull dogs were involved in the incident.
  21. Kentucky: In Whilte Mills, in August 2009. Victim was a female in her 60s walking along in the woods near her home in the early evening,when the incident happened. Apparently, she was attacked by a single dog, and photographs of the suspect dog gives the distinct appearance of an American bulldog type, although this cannot be verified. The victim’s body discovered by a search party on the next day.
  22. Virginia. Victim was a 23 month old female toddler who wandered into her backyard and was fatally attacked by the family pit bull. The victim sustained bites throughout her body. The mother was in the home at the time of the attack, but had her attention divert elsewhere. Contrary to information found on other websites, there is no indication from any news report describing the incident that this dog was chained at the time of the attack. Significantly, this particular dog was not registered on Virginia’s dangerous dogs registry. On or about September 28 in Orange County Virginia, about 45 minutes northeast of Charlottesville.
  23. California. The victim in this California fatality was a 17-month-old toddler who wandered into the backyard containing a pit-bull type dog. The toddler was at the babysitter’s house, and apparently the sitter was not attending to the toddler when he wandered away. Discovery showed that the dog did not belong to the babysitter, but the sitter was a temporary caretaker for the dog. Incident location was Delhi, CA. on about October 23.
  24. Arizona. On October 28 in Prescott, AZ. by a chained pit bull dog on a two year-old male, toddler who wandered away from his babysitter’s house into the yard of a neighbor which contained the chained pit bull. Reports indicate that the toddler was chasing another dog which entered the yard of the pit bull. Shortly after this incident, the city of Prescott banned the ownership of pit bulls.
  25. Mississippi. In Union County, MS on November 5 by a pit bull type dog who slipped his collar from a chain, and ran into the house to attack the victim, a 16-month-old, female toddler who was being cared for by a babysitter.
  26. West Virginia: The incident happened on November 27 in Lindside, by a pack of five pit bull type dogs, as reported by local authorities. The victim was a 70-year-old man on a walk near his home.
  27. Illinois: In Flora, Il. in November, by a pit bull on an 85-year-old lady. According to news reports. the pit bull also attacked the dog owned by the victim, a poodle. The pit bull belonged to a neighbor who had the dog chained in his backyard, and apparently the dog broke its chain, and encountered the victim while she was walking her dog.
  28. Virginia: On or about December 15 in Norfolk by a Alaskan malamute on a 49-year-old lady who was visiting her friend from Florida. According to news reports, the victim sustained a serious bite to the neck.
  29. Flordia: On or about December 15 in New Port Richey, by a family-owned Rottweiler. Victim was a 20-month-old male toddler visiting his aunt, and apparently the incident happened when the toddler dropped a cookie during a party, and a confrontation ensued between the child and the dog.
  30. Flordia: In Cape Coral Florida, on December 22. Victim was a two-year old attacked by the 8 y.o. family Weimaraner. According to news reports, the dog had no history of aggression, and speculation was that the dog may have been startled when the child ran past the dog. The injury inflicted was a single bite to the neck. The City of Cape Coral has dedicated a playground at Rotary Park in the child’s memory (Liam Perk) to raise the issue of dog bite awareness.

*** Two fatalities in same incidents by the same dogs, bringing the 2009 count to 32 victims.

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