Totals of all fatal and disfiguring dog attacks since 1982, by breed, appear in the tables below.
Absent late reports, such as the belated discovery of a 2014 dog attack victim in early 2015, the dog attack body count for the U.S. and Canada in 2014 is complete, with new record tolls in every category involving pit bulls except fatalities actually inflicted by pit bulls’ teeth, where the toll fell one short of the record 32 in 2012.
The totals of all fatal and disfiguring dog attacks since 1982, by breed, appear in the tables below.
If other deaths resulting from pit bulls are included, 2014 brought new records for numbers of pit bulls involved in fatal or disfiguring on humans, numbers of human victims, numbers of children killed or disfigured, numbers of adults killed or disfigured, total number of fatalities, and total number of disfigurements.
Steep rises in all categories of attack
The number of pit bulls involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks has risen since 2007 from 78 to 603; the number of child victims has increased from 30 to 264; the number of adult victims has increased from 23 to 279; the number of deaths directly inflicted by pit bulls is up from 13 to 31, one short of the high of 32 reached in 2012; and the number of disfigurements has soared from 37 to 451.
Another 120 people were injured by pit bulls in 2014 but not killed or disfigured in attacks in which someone else was killed or disfigured.
Best Friends, ASPCA, HSUS
2007 was the year that the Best Friends Animal Society, American SPCA, and the Humane Society of the U.S. ramped up pit bull advocacy in response to the arrest and conviction of Michael Vick on dogfighting-related charges.
Even before 2007 the frequency of fatal and disfiguring pit bull attacks had risen explosively for 25 years. In the entire decade from 1982 to 1992, 104 pit bulls attacked 44 children and 60 adults, killing 18 of the victims, disfiguring 36. Fifty victims escaped without fatal or disfiguring injuries in attacks in which others were killed or disfigured.
The only significance to 1982 in pit bull attack history is that this was the year in which I began logging fatal and disfiguring dog attacks throughout the U.S. and Canada as they happened.
Half or more of all dog attack fatalities since 1844
Retrospective data collection has established that pit bulls have accounted for half or more of all fatal dog attacks in every 10-year time frame since 1844.
However, fatal dog attacks––even when rabies remained uncontrolled––were until recently an extreme rarity. Only 15 fatal dog attacks are known to have occurred in the entire span from 1930 through 1960, including nine by pit bulls, two by Dobermans, and four by unidentified mutts.
Year of Unidentified Killer Dog
Speaking of unidentified mutts, 2014 appears to have been the Year of the Unidentified Killer Dog. Of the 81 dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks since 1982, 36 attacked in 2014 alone. Of the eight fatalities attributed to dogs of unidentified breed since 1982, four occurred in 2014 alone.
Most of these dogs, however, were not really unidentified. Most were apprehended by animal control officers at the scene of the attacks. Many, and probably most of those “unidentified” dogs, were in truth pit bulls or pit mixes, but the animal control officers involved in investigating the cases have shied away from making positive breed identifications. Some are apparently from fear of the influence of organized pit bull advocacy on their employers. Other animal control officers attributing attacks to “unidentified” breeds have themselves had histories of pit bull advocacy.
Year of Shelter/Rescue Dog Attacks
Not surprisingly, 2014 was also the Year of the Shelter/Rescue Dog Attacks. At least 37 dogs in custody of shelters or rescues, or rehomed by shelters or rescues, killed or disfigured someone in 2014. Thirty of those dogs were pit bulls. Only two of the attacks by dogs from shelters or rescues killed someone in 2014, down from the high of five in 2012, but that was a matter of luck, as the number of fatal and disfiguring attacks by shelter and rescue dogs has more than doubled since 2012.
By comparison, there were no fatalities involving shelter or rescue dogs from 1858 through 1987. The first two, both involving wolf hybrids, occurred in 1988 and in 1989. No more occurred for another decade.
24% of shelter/rescue attacks in 2014 alone
There were three fatalities involving shelter or rescue dogs from 1990 through 2009, involving a pit bull, a Doberman, and a Presa Canario.
But there have been 36 fatalities involving shelter dogs from 2010 to present, involving 28 pit bulls, seven bull mastiffs, two Rottweilers, a Lab mix who may have been part pit bull, and a husky.
Also of note, there were 32 disfiguring maulings by shelter dogs from 1858 through 2009, 19 of them involving pit bulls.
From 2010 to present, there have been 122 disfiguring maulings by shelter dogs, 80 of them involving pit bulls.
In other words, 24% of all the disfiguring maulings on record by shelter and rescue dogs came in 2014 alone.
[The 2014 final totals of dog attacks on other animals, by breed, will be posted here when complete, a few days from now.]
(See also: 32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks, and How many other animals did pit bulls kill last year?)
Further particulars on the 2014 dog attack fatalities from Jan Smith, with her prefatory comments:
Please note that I do NOT participate in the kennel club breed-name game. Where some ‘breed’ is in fact a mastiff-pit bull mix (such as the bull mastiff or the Cane Corso), I list it as a pit bull-type dog / pit mix.
Please note that I’m counting deaths by pit bull / pit mix ATTACK, whether or not cars killed the targets before the pit bulls could ‘bite’ them to death. The two children who ran into traffic would have been alive today if pit bulls hadn’t initiated an attack on them.
Asterisks (**) indicate that the killer was someone’s beloved family pit bull, who was never abused or neglected.
The double dagger (‡) indicates that the ‘pet’ pit bull belonged to the deceased person, the person’s family, or a relative.
Child fatalities by pit bull-type dogs (18):
Kara Hartrich – 4 y.o. – Bloomington IL ** ‡ [Jan 17]
Je’vaeh Mayes – 2 y.o. – Temple TX ** ‡ [Feb 17 – pit bull was being babysat by child’s parents]
Braelynn Rayne Coulter – High Point, NC ** [February 24]
Kasil Haith – 4 y.o. – Camden, DE [May High Point NC ** ‡ [Feb 24]
Summer Sears – 4 y.o. – Tallassee AL [Feb 26] – killed by supposed ‘shepherd mixes’, at least one of which has been confirmed to be a bull mix)
Kenneth Santillan – 13 y.o. boy – Patterson NJ [28 Feb – bullmastiff, ie pit bull – mastiff mix]
Raymane Camari Robinson – 2 y.o. boy – Killeen TX ** [March 1 – bullmastiff, ie pit bull – mastiff mix]
Mia Derouen – 4 y.o. – Houme, LA** ‡ [March 25]
Christopher Malone – 3 y.o. – Holmes County, MS** ‡ [March 31]
John Harvard – 5 y.o. – Riverside, St. Clair County, AL** [April 6]
Demonta Collins – 13 y.o. – Augusta, GA – [April 10] — chased into traffic by an attacking pit bull, killed by an oncoming car
Davon Jigget – 17 – Fulton County, GA ** [April 11] – chased into traffic by an attacking pit bull, killed by an oncoming car7]
Holden William Garrison – 10 weeks old – Springfield Township, MI ** ‡ [June 8 – friends of the family confirm that the ‘Cathoula’ was a pit bull mix]
Logan Sheppard – 4 y.o. – Riverview, FL ** ‡ [July 19]
Jonathan Quarles, Jr. – 7 m.o. – Dayton, OH ** [July 20]
Joey Chirieleison – 6 y.o. – Fanning Springs, FL ** ‡ [August 7]
Deriah Solem – 22 m.o. – St. Charles County, MO ** ‡ [attacked August 7, died August 9]
Javon Dade, Jr. – 4 y.o. – Goulds, FL ** ‡ – [August 13]
Adult fatalities by pit bull type dogs (17):
Christina Bell-Burleson – 43 – Houston TX ** [Jan 5]
Betty Clark –75 y.o. – Canyon Lake, TX ** — [attacked December 21, 2013, died January 6, 2014]
Klonda Richey – 57 y.o. – Dayton OH ** [Feb 7 – two pit bull / mastiff mixes]
Nancy Newbury – 77 y.o. – Phoenix AZ** ‡ [March 13]
Dorothy Hamilton – 85 y.o. – Kaufman, TC** ‡ [March 31]
Petra Yanez Aguirre – 83 y.o. – San Antonio, TX ** [attacked March 31, died April 11]
Kate Morrison – 20 y.o. – Smiths Station, AL** [attacked April 28, died May 3]
Rita Pepe – 93 y.o. – Branford, CT** [attacked April 13, died May 25]
Jessica Dawn Norman – 33 y.o. – Sebring, FL [April 28]
Craig Sytsma – 46 y.o. – Metamora, MI ** [July 23 – two Cane Corsos, which is a pit bull – mastiff mix]
Cindy Whisman – 59 y.o. – Madison Township, OH ** ‡ [August 4]
David Glass – 61 y.o. – Benton County, MS [September 20]
Alice Payne – 75 y.o. – Cave City, AR ** ‡ [September 26]
Juan Fernandez – 59 y.o. – Modesto, CA [attacked October 14, died October 15]
Alemeaner Dial – 83 y.o. – Robeson County, NC ** ‡ – [attacked October 26, died October 31]
Rita Ross – 64 y.o. – Corpus Christi, TX ‡ – [December 16 – five pit bulls she was ‘fostering’]
Edward Cahill – 40 y.o. – Portage, IN ** ‡ – [December 25 – killed by own 8 y.o. pet pit bull]
Rottweiler killings (4):
Annabel Martin – 89 y.o. – Corona CA [Jan 26]
Nyhiem Wilfong – 1 y.o. – Caldwell County, NC [May 5]
Logan T. Myer – 7 y.o. – Hustisford, WI [October 24] – parents’ dog, attack trained (IPO)
Christopher Camejo – 2 y.o. – Crystal River, FL [December 6]
Killings by other breeds or ‘breed unknown’ (6):
Gracie Hernetier-Clark – 7 y.o. – Springfield, Manitoba, Canada [March 16] – killed by an Alaskan Malamute
Deanne Lynn Coando – 40 y.o. – Wind River Indian Reservation, WY [November 12] – feral dogs, likely at least some of them pit bull types / mixes
Stella Antanaitis – 91 y.o. – Stratford, CT [Attacked November 14, died November 18] – keeshond mix
Jayla Rodriguez – 8 y.o – Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD [November 18] – killed by ‘stray dogs’ in a place where roaming pit bulls and Rottweilers have been a problem.
Bobbie Chevallier – 85 y.o. – [attacked November 26,died December 1] – stray dogs, one of which ‘looked like a wolf hybrid. GSD or chow mix.’
Jose Robles – 62 y.o. – Rockingham County, NC [November 23] – likely attacked by a group of 15 wandering ‘Blue heelers and hounds.’
Carlos Eligio Trevina – 54 y.o. – Idaho Falls ID ** – [Jan 9] – Died of a heart attack immediately after breaking up a fight between his seven pit bulls / pit mixes.
This is very painstaking detailed work, but also painful to the psyche to imagine the horror of dying by a dog attack. Thank you for bearing this terrible burden in order to bring the truth to light.
Amber R says
What a piece of shit article. Publish statistics of ALL dog attacks by all the different breeds (black labs…) and then maybe I’ll have an ounce of respect for your bullshit articles. And actual statistics…not the ones posted above. I’ll be unfollowing this website and its articles now. My New Years resolution was to kick all idiots out of my life.
Merritt Clifton says
“Publish statistics of ALL dog attacks by all the different breeds (black labs…”? They’re all right there, Amber. Just scroll on down & read them.
Black Lab is not actually a breed. The breed name is Labrador Retriever and it comes in several solid coat colors including black.
But thank you Amber for sharing your delightful message. Glad you will be following Animals 24/7 because the research presented here covers so much more than dog attacks and is of interest to all animal advocates and animal lovers.
You realize tracking black labs* would be like tracking black pit bulls*, right? For both those dogs, ‘black’ is just a color. Why don’t you demand Merritt track all dogs wearing green collars while you’re ranting?
*Purebred examples of both (and American Pit Bull Terrier IS a breed)
Amber, perhaps you should use a mirror when pursuing your resolution. Stop helping pit bull breeders and dog fighters exploit pit bulls. Regarding the breeds themselves, that’s all you are accomplishing with your pit bull advocacy.
You are being used and you can’t even see it.
Jenny Ro says
Did the math on Jan’s stats… 80% of the pit bulls responsible for this year’s pit bull fatalities were loved family animals found to be neither abused nor neglected. This is critical information, thank you for all you do Merritt and Jan!
Jamaka Petzak says
Thanking you and sharing to social media in the fervent hope that education will incite those reading to consider these FACTS and act upon them.
Friend of ours is the first name mentioned under the children who died, Kara Hartrich. A sweet 4-year-old innocent child is dead because of these animals.
It pains me that people still, after seeing these real facts and numbers and human losses, go out of their way to defend the breed, (as if it is something that makes them “better than others,”) to value pits over childrens’ lives, especially having seen a family deal with such a traumatic loss such as this first hand with their beloved family dog, and more beloved child.
Stop thinking that people who value children and human lives over an aggressive breed are inappropriately biased. It’s just placing value on human life over your choice of dog breed.
This unfortunate problem is related to the American canine breeding industry’s platform of “if it makes money, it’s ok.”
Enormous amounts of energy and time are spent trying to legitimize the unethical.
Thank you for your report, Mr. Clifton. I know it’s a lot of very disheartening work to compile something like this for so many years.
Thomas Lee Boles says
Note to Amber R.: Cruising the river in Egypt works no better in this matter than it does for climate change.
Is there a way we can get this out on listservs serving the sheltering community? As I watch my local shelters and rescues venture into pit bull advocacy, I can’t help but think they are playing with fire and a single tragedy could undo years and in some cases decades of hard work building trust and support within the community.
Lindsay, they are playing with fire and many have already lost, and have been forced to shut down or reduce services because of getting involved in the fighting breed industry cleanup, instead of cutting it off at the head and confronting the breeding industry.
They don’t seem to understand that all they are doing is backing up the pit bull and other breeders and dog fighters that are behind all the pit bull advocacy lobbying groups.
Being so naive and helping the exploiters of the pit bulls themselves is bad enough, but innocent pets and people are suffering horrific abuses and tortures because of their willingness to be stooges.
2007 was the year that the American canine breeding industry also decided to use the pit bull issue to infiltrate animal welfare concerns and try to defend their unethical practices (including connections to the dog fighting world) and oppose regulation using the Michael Vick arrest hype.
A quick look at the amicus brief filed on behalf of the Vick pit bulls displays an overwhelming number of for-profit dog breeding organizations and lobbies taking advantage of the situation and jumping in with their years of prefabricated propaganda to use the situation and those dogs for their financial interests..
These groups and others connected to them such as AKC had been using the pit bull industry lies, excuses, and propaganda for some time to protect their financial interests. In 2007, they used the Vick arrest and pit bull advocacy fronts to sell their propaganda and interests nationally and more widely using a gullible and even corrupt media, and hide it behind false animal welfare smokescreens.
They still are.
Money interests are behind it all and as long as this exploitation is allowed to continue with a willing media and government system and a naive advocacy militia, the victim count will increase. Those victims include the pit bulls themselves.