Forty percent of pit bull attack disfigurements not reported?
Dog attack fatalities were up in 2020, but disfiguring dog attacks were down?
Pit bull attack fatalities rose to the second highest total in a year on record, yet disfiguring pit bull attacks dropped by 62%?
How could this be, in view that fatalities are a subset of disfiguring attacks?
Those paradoxes appear to be artifacts of under-reporting of nonfatal dog attacks and especially nonfatal pit bull attacks occurring within homes and families.
The oddest year ever
And those paradoxes are only some of the quirks evident in the ANIMALS 24-7 dog attack log for 2020, reflecting that 2020 was in many ways the oddest year ever, for both humans and dogs, since ANIMALS 24-7 began tracking fatal and disfiguring dog attacks throughout the U.S. and Canada in 1982.
The COVID-19 coronavirus disrupted practically every aspect of life for Americans and Canadians in 2020. How people and dogs interacted was no exception.
Fewer people out in public, spending less time in public places, meant fewer dogs among fewer humans too, translating into fewer strangers bitten and mauled.
No one died dodging a dog in 2020
Fewer people suffered heart attacks or other severe injuries trying to escape from aggressive dogs, as well.
No human––on record, anyhow––died in 2020 in either the U.S. or Canada from a heart attack triggered by a dog attack, or from being hit by a car while dodging a dog.
Neither did anyone in either the U.S. or Canada die from an antibiotic-resistant infection or rabies contracted from a dog.
That made 2020 the only year since 2009 in which there were no such human deaths reported.
63% drop in reported dog attack disfigurements
Altogether, reported disfiguring dog attacks on Americans and Canadians, exclusive of fatalities, fell from 1,032 in 2019 to just 379 in 2020, an implausibly steep 63% drop.
Reported disfiguring pit bull attacks, exclusive of fatalities, fell by 52%, from 498 in 2019 to 241 in 2020.
Despite that drop, pit bulls remained by far and away the most dangerous breed type for the 38th consecutive year.
Reported disfiguring attacks by dogs of all other breed types combined, again exclusive of fatalities, fell from 534 in 2019 to 138 in 2020, a 74% drop.
But dog attack fatalities increased
Superficially, those steep declines might seem to make sense, in combination with the changes in human behavior introduced by “social distancing” requirements to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19.
But more people spending more time at home with their dogs, and fewer dogs out in public, did not coincide with a drop in fatalities.
Instead, total human deaths from dog attacks in the U.S. and Canada combined rose from 46 to 49. Total human deaths from pit bull behavior increased from 33 in 2019 to either 36, if one counts only deaths from bites, or 38, if one counts deaths from all causes.
Only in 2017, when 57 people were killed by dogs, 40 of them by pit bulls, did dog attacks and pit bull attacks inflict a higher death toll.
Ratios indicate unreported disfigurements
Over the 38 years that ANIMALS 24-7 has logged dog attack data, disfiguring dog attacks have occurred eight times more often than fatalities, overall. Disfiguring pit bull attacks have occurred about ten times more often than fatal pit bull attacks.
The ratio of disfigurements to fatalities for dogs other than pit balls in 2020 was consistent with history: about eight reported disfigurements for each fatality.
But the ratio of pit bull disfigurements to fatalities slipped precipitously to just six disfigurements for each death.
60% of pit bull deaths lived in the home with the dog
This suggests that about 40% of all pit bull-inflicted disfigurements were not reported by the victims and their families to public safety agencies, since they occurred within the dog’s own home, with no non-family witnesses.
Among pit bull-inflicted fatalities in 2020, 60% of the victims resided in the same home as the attacking dog or dogs, about five times the percentage of 2019 pit bull victims who were killed by dogs residing in the same home, and about three times the historical ratio of pit bull victims killed by dogs from the same home.
If 40% of the pit bull-inflicted disfigurements occurring in 2020 were not reported to public safety agencies, the total number occurring would have been slightly more than 600, exceeding the record totals of 574 and 570 reached in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
How ANIMALS 24-7 logs the data
Please observe that, as in past years, the ANIMALS 24-7 dog attack death log, below, differs from the logs kept by other organizations, notably Dogsbite.org, in several important respects.
First, and most obviously, the ANIMALS 24-7 log covers both the U.S. and Canada, as a single contiguous habitat in which the culture of dog-keeping is mostly the same.
Second, ANIMALS 24-7 counts all deaths that result from dog behavior, including those from proximate causes, not just those caused by a bite.
Accordingly, the ANIMALS 24-7 log includes two deaths attributed to pit bulls that Dogsbite.org does not count.
The first proximate cause death in the ANIMALS 24-7 log for 2020 was that of Joshua Jadusingh, 27, of Adams, Massachusetts, killed by an errant crossbow bolt on February 5, 2020. The crossbow bolt was shot at an attacking pit bull at Jadusingh’s own request. Jadusingh himself reportedly believed and shouted that he was about to die.
Whether Jadusingh would have survived if he had not been fatally shot by accident is a judgement call; but the crossbow bolt would not have been shot had Jadusingh not been screaming for help while rapidly losing blood.
Alleged smothering death
The second proximate cause death in the ANIMALS 24-7 log for 2020 was the last of the year, that of four-month-old Raelynn Larrison in Dayton, Ohio, on December 31, 2020.
Raelynn Larrison was apparently smothered by an “American bully” pit bull variant who lay on top of her, according to her father Rob Larrison, a pit bull breeder and marijuana dealer according to his own Facebook postings, also known as Rob Oliver Closeoff and by several other aliases.
ANIMALS 24-7 detailed the reasons why we believe this case warrants further investigation in 2020 began & ended with pit bulls killing babies in Dayton, Ohio.
Among the 857 dog-caused fatalities in the U.S. and Canada logged by ANIMALS 24-7 since 1982, only two others involved asphyxiation by a dog allegedly lying on an infant. Both of those, in 2000 and 2005, respectively, also occurred within 100 miles of Dayton.
Unidentified dogs & unwitnessed cases
A further quirk in the 2020 dog attack fatality numbers is that five fatalities were inflicted by dogs of breeds never identified either by family or law enforcement.
One of those was the October 14, 2020 death of a three-month-old infant at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, extensively reported by ANIMALS 24-7 in Hawaii infant death shows why pit bulls are banned from military housing.
An obvious possible reason why the dog breed might not have been disclosed is that pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, chows, and wolf hybrids are banned from U.S. Army housing; but at Schofield Barracks, the January 2009 order was conspicuously flouted by residents, with little or no evidence of even attempted enforcement.
The other four fatalities by dogs of unidentified breed were unwitnessed pack accidents.
Any or all of the deaths inflicted by dogs of unidentified breed may have been caused by pit bulls. If as few as three pit bulls are eventually confirmed as having involved in the deaths, 2020 would have seen a record number of pit bull-inflicted fatalities.
The complete 2020 dog attack death log as we know it, as of January 23, 2021:
Deaths involving pit bulls
1) McKenzie Terwell, 4 months, Dayton, OH, 1-9-2020; family pit bull.
2) Donald W. Abner, 55, Conway, KY, 1-10-2020; Melissa Wolke charged with murder.
3) Julian Connell, 1 month, Lafayette, IN, 1-25-2020; family pit bull; mother Jennifer Nicole Connell, 38, charged with neglect.
4) Harvey J. Harmon, 76, Attala County, MS, 1-31-2020; four family pit bulls.
5) Joshua Jadusingh, 27, Adams, MA, 2-5-2020; own two pit bulls. (Killed by neighbor using crossbow to try to save Jadusingh from pit bull attack)
6) Sterling Vermeer, 5, Oro Grande, CA, 2-10-2020; family pit bull.
7) Devin J. White, 25, Plainfield, IL, injured 2-8-2020, died 2-10-2020; own pit bull, injured 3 others.
8) Lee Alvin Becham, 76, Knoxville, GA, 2-23-2020; unwitnessed; next to pit bull yard.
9) Geraldine Hamlin, 64, Shreveport, TX, 2-27-2020; own two pit bulls.
10) Beverly Jean Dove, 60, Chipley, FL, 3-3-2020; 5 pits from neighboring property.
11) Demi Marie Witherspoon, 2, Portsmouth, VA, 3-9-2020; family pit bull. Victim also known as Demi Herod Killebrew.
12) Roger James Kirk, 69, Horatio, AR, attacked 3-19-2020, died 3-26-2020 of injuries.
13) Sharon Rene Baldwin, 60, Fort Worth, TX, 4-12-2020; attacked in home by rescued pit bull on March 28, 2020.
14) Roxie Wright Parker, 60, Monroe, LA, 4-20-2020; killed by pit while defending Chihuahua.
15) Doris Arrington, 59, Memphis, TN, 4-22-2020; killed by four of a breeder’s pits.
16) Lisa Urso, 52, Ingleside, IL, 5-1-2020; killed by own pit bull & two French bulldogs.
17) Nancy Shaw, M.D., 62, Lyons, GA, 5-7-2020; killed by four pit bulls
18) Modesta Socorro Portes Morilla, 86, Oviedo, FL, 5-22-2020; killed by two family pit bulls raised from puppies.
19) Robbie Taylor, 9, Mt. Vernon, AR, 5-28-2020; killed by two pit bulls belonging to neighbor Trey Edgar Wyatt, 25, who was criminally charged.
20) Brice Sanders, 2, Stockton, CA, 6-1-2020; killed by family pit bull.
21) Katie Amos, 70, County Club Hills, IL, 6-3-2020; killed by four pit bulls apparently belonging to Merrill W. Amos, resident at same address.
22) Megan Milner, 38, Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia, 6-9-2020; killed by own pit bull.
23) Barbara Cook, 72, Mandeville, LA, 6-26-2020; killed by daughter’s two pit bulls.
24) Jonah Jellison, 2, Quinlan, TX, 6-29-2020; killed by neighbor’s pit bull.
25) Justin Stadel, Kamloops, BC, 6-29-2020; visitor to home killed by pit bull.
26) Donald Ryan, 62, Jeffersonville, IN, 7-1-2020; breeder killed by own pit bull.
27) Marcy Wilander, 17 months, Joliet, IL, 7-4-2020; killed by pit bull at friend’s house.
28) Scarlett Pereira, 15 months, East Providence, RI, 7-16-2020; killed by pit bull at grandparents’ house.
29) Boy, seven months, Akron, OH, 8-7-2020; killed by pit bull at grandmother’s house.
30) Stephen F. Pemberton Sr., 61, Belleville, IL, 8-26-2020; killed by stepson’s 2 pit bulls.
31) Carolyn Varanese, 84, Margate, FL, 8-29-2020; killed by own pit bull.
32) Karen Wilkerson, 76, Broken Bow, OK, 9-11-2020; killed by 2 pit bulls.
32) Jacqueline Nicole Robinson, 32, Gray Court, SC, 9-29-2020; breeder killed by own pit bulls. Neighbor Jeffrey Kenneth Sullivan, 35, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and three counts of possession of a dangerous animal in connection with the case.
34) Zachary S. Willis, 27, Moses Lake, WA, 10-8-2020; killed in female housemate’s trailer. The housemate was injured.
35) Curtis Wickham, 26, West Tulsa, OK, 10-22-2020; killed by 3 pit bulls in dispute with Benjamin Ryan Spence, 35, who was charged with murder.
36) Erick J. Quinn, 46, Joliet, IL, 12-17-2020; killed by pit bull at friends’ house.
37) Edna Mae Patterson McGhee, 74, Tallahassee, FL, 12-20-2020; killed by 3 of 4 adult pit bulls kept by daughter Keeva McGee, who also had a litter of nine pit bull puppies.
38) Raelynn Larrison, 4 months, Dayton, OH, 12-31-2020; reportedly smothered by pit bull.
Deaths involving German shepherds
1) Michelle Ocean Ray Carr, 2 months, Hampton, VA, 10-26-2020. Dog was identified as a “German shepherd mix.”
2) Dion Bush, 14, Ottertail, MN, 12-10-2020; killed at Lakeview Shepherds, run by mother Jennifer Bush.
Deaths involving Mastiffs
1) Frederick J. Shew, 71, Portland, OR, April 11, 2020; killed by own mastiff.
2) Skylar Headrich, 11, Murray County, GA, 5-31-2020; killed by two family Neopolitan mastiffs in unwitnessed basement attack.
Deaths involving Malinois
1) Zayne Liam Rainwater Clark, six weeks, Sioux Falls, SD, 6-11-2020; killed by one of three family Belgian Malinois.
2) Deon Garcia Bush, 14, Battle Lake, MN, 12-10-2020; killed by stud dog imported from Poland in February 2020 by mother Jennifer Bush, a breeder.
Deaths involving unidentified dogs
Kay Torres, 52, Taos Pueblo, NM, 1-8-2020; unwitnessed pack attack.
Corey Godsey, 13, Emmalena, KY, 2-18-2020; unwitnessed, pit bull suspected.
Unidentified infant, 3 months, Schofield Barracks, HI, 10-14-2020.
Ruthie Mae Brown, Nauvoo, AL, 10-19-2020; unwitnessed pack attack.
Donald Ray Allen, 65, Bascom, FL, 11-19-2020; unwitnessed pack attack.