Surveillance cameras identified dogs involved in multi-dog mauling
MODESTO, California––Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deartment and Modesto Animal Control personnel on January 3, 2018 announced they had recovered seven dogs and six puppies from near the location where Deborah L. Onsurez, 56, of Modesto, was found dead on December 28, 2017.
“Using photos of the dogs taken by surveillance cameras on nearby businesses, animal control officers located five of them on December 30,” reported Erin Tracy of the Modesto Bee. “One dog was found dead on the side of the road and another had been injured, both believed to have been hit by cars, said Stanislaus Animal Services Agency executive director Annette Patton.
Mixes of five breeds involved
“The captured dogs were of different mixed breeds,” Tracy continued, “including Doberman, German shepherd, Queensland heeler, Labrador and pit bull. The puppies appear to be German shepherd mixes, although one looks more like a pit bull.”
The surviving adult dogs will be euthanized as unadoptable, Patton told media, while the puppies are to be offered for adoption beginning on January 5, 2017.
Onsurez, the record eighth American killed by dogs during the month of December 2017, appears to have died as little noticed as she lived.
Advised the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, “On 12-28-2017 at about 7:50 a.m., deputies and emergency services personnel were dispatched to a 911 call of an unresponsive person in the 500 block of Crows Landing Road,” where Onsurez was found “in the driveway of a residence,” in a neighborhood consisting chiefly of three automotive wrecking yards, a pallet yard, a tire dealership, a couple of used car lots, a nut-packing warehouse, and several run-down trailer parks, wedged between railroad tracks and the Golden State Highway.
Butler’s Camp murder
Satellite photos show no evident current residences in the 500 block of Crows Landing Road, though some structures now housing businesses were probably built as homes.
The 500 block of Crows Landing Road, however, meets South 7th Street at Butler’s Camp, also known as Sunrise Village. This was the scene of the locally notorious January 1989 drug-related murder of Kenneth Lawton Stewart. Dennis Harold Lawley received the death penalty for allegedly hiring the Stewart killing, but died from heart disease in 2012; confessed triggerman Brian Seabourn received a life sentence; and a third suspect, Steven Curtis Mendonca, was sent to a prison for mentally ill offenders after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
“Pronounced deceased at the scene”
There were no known witnesses to Onsurez’s death. Almost no information was available about her in the first week after her death. She appears to have had a husband, Miguel Ruiz Onsurez, 59. She may have been a grandmother. She had apparently lived quietly in several other California cities. But she died violently indeed.
“Onsurez had severe injuries to her body, and she was pronounced deceased at the scene,” the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said.
“Detectives were called out to assist with the investigation. The preliminary investigation led detectives to believe the decedent was killed by stray dogs,” the advisory said.
Let outside, then whistled back?
At the early morning hour when Onsurez appears to have been attacked, owned dogs might have been let outside by someone to urinate and defecate, and then been whistled back inside by an owner who may or may not have been aware that the dogs had attacked someone. But the surveillance camera video indicated that the dogs were an unowned pack, possibly fed by neighbors, who had been running at large in the area for weeks, months, or even years.
“My sister was mauled by the same dogs”
The area is known for dangerous dogs running at large.
Posted Modesto resident Heather Gutierrez to Facebook in a discussion of Onsurez’s death, “I drive down Crows Landing every single day and there are ALWAYS dogs running loose.”
Agreed another Modesto resident, Bernie De Rego, “Animal control is never out in this area. They don’t ever drive by to check. There are so many strays. If you call animal control, it takes forever to reach someone. Then they never come. So even if someone called about a stray being loose, this would have happened.”
The most alarming comment came from Ceres resident Yesenia McClain. “My sister was mauled by the same dogs Tuesday night,” McClain posted, meaning two days before Onsurez was killed. “She said it happened by a car dealership and a house near the 500 block of Crows Landing. A couple of guys helped get the dogs off, but left her there and didn’t call for help. She got bit on her boob, back, stomach, and legs.”
55th death by dog attack in 2017
As well as being the record 8th human killed by dogs in the U.S. in December 2017, and the 10th killed since November 24, 2017, Onsurez was the also record 56th person killed by dog attack in the U.S. in 2017, of whom 38, another record, are known to have been killed by pit bulls or packs including pit bulls.
ANIMALS 24-7, continuously logging dog attack deaths and disfigurements by breed since 1982, will wait another several days to post what we believe to be the 2017 “final” totals, to be sure of including attacks occurring late in the last week of the year that may not be reported until several days into 2018.
Even at that, the numbers of dog attack deaths, especially deaths attributed to specific breeds, may rise later in 2018 as result of late-arriving information. In 2017, for instance, three dog attacks initially listed in 2016 as having been by dogs of unidentified breed were subsequently attributed as result of police forensic work to specific pit bulls.
Annual totals rise in future years
The numbers of dog attack disfigurements logged for any given year also tend to rise during the next several years, mostly as result of lawsuits brought by victims whose lawyers had advised them against disclosing information while their cases were before the courts.
While ANIMALS 24-7 cannot as yet provide the data we expect to provisionally post as “final,” we can confirm that 2017 brought a record number of pit bull attacks on children, as well as a record number of fatalities, and that the records for numbers of pit bulls involved in attacks, adults injured, and total disfiguring injuries all may be exceeded if the totals for the last week of December 2017 are as high as were the totals for several of the preceding weeks.
Dog attacks on other animals
ANIMALS 24-7 has also for many years been continuously logging dog attack deaths and disfigurements inflicted on animals by breed, a category of dog attack violence that is notoriously underreported. The underreporting is partly because of a widespread lack of confidence among animal owners that attacks on pets and livestock will be properly investigated and prosecuted.
Since 2014 ANIMALS 24-7 has produced annual estimates of the numbers of animals killed in dog attacks, by species of the victim animal and by breed of the attacking dogs, where known, projected from our logged data using a combination of demographic factors in a manner similar to how public health agencies estimate cases of underreported infectious diseases.
As this is a very time-consuming task, our estimated 2017 totals of animals killed by dogs will probably not be posted until mid-to-late January 2018.