Reportedly surrendered for biting a child, Blue was routed through five rescue programs in six months before killing 90-year-old
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia––Fatally mauled by a pit bull named Blue just six hours after Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation delivered him to her daughter Linda Colvin Patterson at their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Margaret M. Colvin, 90, died at about 6:30 a.m. on June 1, 2017, after enduring an arm amputation as surgeons struggled to save her life.
Blue had reportedly been surrendered to the New York City Animal Care Centers’ Manhattan shelter in December 2016 after biting a child.
The dead don’t talk, either
Blue was “pulled” for “rescue” through the NYC Animal Care Centers’ New Hope adoption program by Edie Hardy of Animals Can’t Talk Rescue & Adoption, located in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Hardy fostered Blue out to Julie Winch of Rochester, New York.
Arriving ill, Blue incurred a bill of $5,900 with Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Services Inc. of Rochester. The bill became subject of fundraising appeals routed through Rochester Hope for Pets.
Blue was transported from Rochester to Animals Can’t Talk circa December 31, 2016, apparently with the help of New Jersey rescue transport volunteer Jo Ann Treiber.
“He never showed any aggression”
By the end of February, however, Blue was transported again, to Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation, a nine-year-old organization specializing in “problem” dogs, begun in Knott’s Island, North Carolina, now operating facilities in both Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia.
Said Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation in a media statement, “Blue went through our 3-month board and train program, and was a favorite amongst all of the staff members and volunteers. Blue loved other dogs, and didn’t know a stranger. He never showed any aggression while at our facility, and passed his final evaluation with flying colors before being adopted out to the Patterson family. Trainers spent yesterday morning checking over Blue’s new home and going over training with Blue’s new owner. There were two other dogs in Blue’s new home, who Blue immediately bonded with. We do not know what events transpired in the moments before this tragedy occurred with Blue’s owner’s mother.”
Prior adoption failure due to aggression
What Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation did not mention was that Blue was adopted out on April 22, 2017 to Tia Walke of Virginia Beach. Walke returned Blue to Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation due to aggressive behavior just two days later, she told Aliah Hordges of WTKR News 3.
“Right after my nephew petted him just for initial meet and greet, that’s when it kind of went the wrong way,” Walke told Hordges.
Summarized Hordges, “She said the dog jumped on her 27-year-old nephew and was on him for about a minute. Blue then left a nip above his waist.”
Forever Home representatives told Hordges, she recounted, that “The first incident was not presented to them as an aggressive attack or even a bite. The center said the nip was of the magnitude of an insect bite and as presented to them, it was not an act of malicious aggression.”
Hammer didn’t stop the attack
But the Colvin killing appears to have begun the much that same canner. Amber Patterson, 27, granddaughter of victim Margaret M. Colvin, told 13News Now reporter Chenue Her that Colvin “was walking into her room when the dog pushed her over and mauled her,” Her said on camera. “The attack lasted about five minutes,” Her continued. “Patterson said her mother tried hitting the dog with a hammer to get him to stop, but that didn’t work. It wasn’t until her grandmother stopped screaming and crying that the dog stopped attacking.
“Patterson told 13News Now,” Her added, “that the family adopted him from Forever Home Rehabilitation Center the same day as the attack. She said they were able to see and play with Blue prior to the adoption and that he showed no aggressive tendencies. It was when they brought him home and took off his shock collar that he attacked.”
Why the shock collar?
Why was Blue wearing a shock collar? Since when does any shelter rehome a dog with a shock collar on?
No one seemed to have any immediate explanation for that, but Linda Colvin Patterson “says the pet couldn’t be stopped during the roughly five-minute rage,” elaborated Jane Alvarez-Wertz of WAVY-TV News 10.
“Linda says she was in the backyard playing with the dog,” Alvarez-Wertz paraphrased, “when she heard her mom inside yelling for help after falling in her first-floor bedroom. Linda says the back door was locked and she used a hammer to crack the glass to get inside. Once inside, she says the dog rushed ahead and straddled the 90-year-old woman and started biting her neck and shoulders. The dog eventually bit the woman’s legs and stomach area, according to Linda.”
Said Linda Colvin Patterson, “He just started biting her; biting her and shaking his head.”
Finished Alvarez-Wertz, “Linda says she hit the dog with the hammer, but he didn’t stop. The attack ended when she nudged her mom’s walker into the dog.”
Added Jane Harper of the Virginian-Pilot, “Linda said she wanted to get a dog because she hadn’t had one in years. Her mother owns a 12-year-old Feist terrier named Jack, and her daughter also has a dog.”
Explained Linda Colvin-Patterson, whom Harper did not identify, “I thought, ‘I’m going to rescue a dog and give a home to one that really needs one.’ I thought I could give him a good life.”
Continued Harper, “Linda said she was in the back yard with the dog when she noticed that an electric shock collar and a canvas one seemed to be tight and bothering Blue so she took both off. It was around that time that she noticed that her mother — who was diligent about keeping the doors bolted — had locked her out. Linda knocked and called out to her mother, but the woman had fallen in her room and couldn’t get up.
“Linda said she grabbed a hammer and broke a window pane to get in,” Harper wrote. “She was walking into her mother’s room when Blue ran up behind her mother and playfully put his paws around the woman’s shoulders as she struggled to get to her knees.”
“Get the heck off of me”
To that point the accounts given to Harper and the television reporters were almost identical, but then came a twist:
“Linda said her mother seemed irritated by the dog’s actions and yelled at him,” Harper reported.
Recounted Linda Colvin-Patterson, “She said, ‘Get the heck off of me,’ or something like that. I think it riled the dog up.”
Finished Harper, “Soon the dog was biting her mother’s arms, abdomen and thighs. Linda tried to pull Blue off to no avail. She even swung the hammer that she had used to break the window and tried zapping Blue with the shock collar, but Blue would not stop. The dog turned on her, biting her in the upper arm, leaving teeth marks and a large bruise that wrapped around her upper arm. The whole time her mother pleaded with her to get him off. Eventually she was able to free her mother and called 911.”
“I have never seen an animal act like that”
Said Linda Colvin-Patterson, “I’ve had animals all my life and I have never seen an animal act like that.”
A 112-photo album posted by the Rosewood-Kellum Funeral Home in memory of Linda Colvin-Patterson’s father, Richard L. Colvin, 85, who died in January 2015, documents many dogs kept by the Colvin family from the mid-1960s on, as Patterson grew up in the same home. Richard L. Colvin and Margaret M. Colvin had been married since 1948.
“Even-tempered, gentle, goofy”
According to the adoption promotion materials posted by Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation, Blue was one year old and weighed 50 pounds, whereas Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Services Inc. had six months earlier identified him as more than a year old and 62 pounds.
Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation said Blue was housetrained, had basic obedience training but needed more, had a “reaction to new people” described as “friendly,” and was “Good with Dogs, Good with Older/Considerate Kids Only, Good with Adults, Obedient, Playful, Affectionate, Eager To Please, Intelligent, Even-tempered, Gentle, Goofy.”
That assessment was of course offered before Margaret L. Colvin became the 48th known fatality inflicted by a former shelter dog in the 10 years since the 2007 Michael Vick dogfighting case introduced a vogue for rehoming pit bulls and other dogs of fighting breed and/or high-risk history.
3rd rescue fatality of 2017
Colvin was killed less than five weeks after Lisa Green, 32, of Upper Macungie Township, Pennsylvania, was on April 27, 2017 killed by her own pit bull, adopted from the Peaceable Kingdom fostering network in nearby Allentown.
The chain of events leading to Colvin’s death somewhat paralleled the “rescue” of a pit bull named Emmet from the New Iberia Parish Animal Shelter earlier in 2017 by NOLA Freedom Transport, founded in 2014 by SugarDeaux Cookies & Cakes owner Karen Anderson of Destrehan, Louisiana. Relayed to the Clinton Humane Society, Emmet on March 15, 2007 mauled 15-month-old Lucas Harrison, inflicting extreme disfiguring facial injuries, within an hour of adoption by a neighbor of the Harrison family.
Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation was founded by Toni Enright, 33, and Jamie Cochran, 32, according to a web page entitled “The start of Forever Home Rehabilitation Center,” who met and moved in together in 2007 while working as a kennel attendant and as bather and a groomer, respectively, at the Owl Creek Veterinary Clinic in Virginia Beach.
“After residing together in Virginia Beach for four months they got evicted for having too many dogs,” recounted Tidewater Women writer Debi Wacker in one of many flattering media write-ups Enright and Cochran received.
“They moved to Knott’s Island, an hour outside of Virginia Beach, where there is no limit on the number of dogs you can have,” Wacker continued. “They found a piece of property on five acres of land that was secluded around a wildlife refuge. Jamie and Toni officially opened their own [dog training and rehabilitation] center, and relocated back to Virginia Beach. A few years later they opened a second location, for rehabilitation, in Norfolk.”
Along the way, mentioned Joanne Kimberlin of the Virginian-Pilot, the Owl Creek Veterinary Clinic charged Enright and Cochran with felony embezzlement for allegedly stocking their operation with supplies taken from the clinic. Virginia court records show that Enright and Cochran both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement on May 6, 2013.
Enright and Cochran evolved from kennel attendant and bather/groomer into self-described behaviorists, recounted Liz King of the Virginian-Pilot, by “studying ‘pack’ theory, watching documentaries and reading about ‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan.”
Started with child-biter
Forever Home “never was planned,” King continued. “It started with one rescue – a cocker spaniel named Nichie was on the hospital side of the Owl Creek clinic, about to be euthanized after biting a child in the face. Before he could be sedated, the pair volunteered to bring him home.”
This evolved into a rescue-and-rehabilitation business. Forever Home claims to have obtained IRS 501(c)(3) charitable status in 2012, but has not posted an EIN number and does not appear to have ever filed IRS Form 990.
“Instead of taking the happy-go-lucky adoptable dogs, we took pit bulls,” Enright told King. “Once we started doing that work, shelters found out about us.”
Wrote King, “Now, shelters and humane societies as far away as Connecticut and New York seek them out to take on misbehaving dogs.”
Virginia Beach SPCA shelter manager Barbara Gipson testified that Enright and Cochran “are pretty savvy” about dog socialization.
“With our expert understanding of dog behavior,” Forever Home advertised, “we developed techniques to raise a pack of calm, submissive dogs. Previously labeled as too aggressive, most dogs slated for euthanasia that end up at Forever Home are eventually rehabilitated and later adopted without another sign of aggression.”
Or so claimed Enright and Cochran. What exactly became of the problem dogs they handled, however, was not always clear.
In 2012, for example, Enright and Cochran agreed to take in Alchemy, a St. Bernard from Chesapeake.
Recounted Kimberlin of the Virginian-Pilot, “Owned by Ken Stubbs, a 59-year-old truck driver, the St. Bernard turned rogue when Stubbs lost his job and his house, and was forced to shuttle the pet he’d raised from a pup into foster homes. Along the way, the dog bit five people, including a foster parent in Chesapeake, whose wound required stitches. The man’s wife turned Alchemy over to the city’s Animal Services Unit, a move that, oddly enough, put her on the wrong side of the law. Valerie Carter is now facing misdemeanor charges for falsely claiming ownership of Alchemy. The pooch himself was decreed a danger to the community, locked in a cage at animal control and marked to be put down. Stubbs contacted the Lexus Project,” a New York City-based organization that works to rescue dogs scheduled for euthanasia due to dangerous behavior.
“The group got Alchemy a stay of execution,” Kimberlin continued, “and persuaded Chesapeake General District Judge Timothy Wright to release him on a $2,500 bond. Alchemy, however, didn’t seem to grasp his good fortune. Animal control officers say that when a Lexus Project attorney came to fetch the dog, Alchemy turned his teeth on his benefactor,” biting both the lawyer’s arm and his leg.
Shuttled out of state
Despite all that, Alchemy was eventually released to Forever Home, under disputed terms. Chesapeake city attorney Grady Palmer meant for Alchemy to remain permanently in Forever Home custody, he said, but Forever Home instead adopted Alchemy to persons unknown.
“The only thing Enright will reveal,” Kimberlin wrote in March 2017, “is that his new owners don’t live in Virginia.”
Rehomed pit bull who killed cat
Meanwhile Enright and Cochran in May 2016 rehomed a pit bull named McLovin, whom they had received in February 2016 “from Second Chance Rescue, an affiliated shelter based in New York City,” reported Eric Kane of WVEC 13NewsNow.
“Only about an hour later, McLovin jumped on top of a car and mauled a cat to death,” Kane recounted. “The adoptive owner handed McLovin over to an animal control officer, who took the dog to the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center. The city said the owner’s willingness to surrender McLovin, gave Norfolk legal custody of the dog. City staff decided to put down the animal because of its history and in the interest of public safety,” but Forever Home, Second Chance, and the Norfolk Animal Advisory Board disputed the decision, stirring up a social media frenzy.
Rabies certificate altered
Explained Lori Crouch, corporate communications director for the City of Norfolk, “Shelter staff researched the dog’s history and discovered repeated failed adoption attempts with other out-of-state agencies and a rabies certificate that was altered to change the dog’s breed and age. The dog was scanned for a microchip. Staff contacted Home Again Microchip for owner information. The microchip was never registered.
“Given the dog’s history, the decision of the dog’s owner to surrender the dog, which legally transferred the ownership to the City, and in the interest of public safety, staff made the decision to humanely euthanize the dog.”
Had a similar decision been made in the interest of public safety by New York City Animal Care & Control, after Blue was surrendered to the Manhattan shelter, Margaret M. Colvin most likely would still be alive.