May 2021 dog attack death toll––eight––ties December 2017 record
ANGIER, North Carolina; WHITEHALL, Montana; ALPHARETTA, Georgia––Two Rottweiler-inflicted fatalities and three Rottweiler-inflicted near fatalities, all disclosed to media on May 26, 2021, left Rottweilers trailing pit bulls in fatal attacks for the month by a margin of 3-2, and in disfiguring attacks by a margin of 28-8.
(See also Why Rottweilers are as deadly as pit bulls and The Rottweilers in my life, by Beth Clifton.)
A boxer, a husky, and several dogs of unidentified breed have also killed people in May 2021, bringing the human death toll for the month to eight.
This ties the record for most U.S. dog attack deaths in a month during the nearly 40 years that ANIMALS 24-7 has tracked fatal and disfiguring dog attacks, beginning in 1982.
The previous record was established in December 2017, when seven pit bulls and a husky killed people.
10-month-old was record-tying victim
The victim whose death tied the record, ten-month-old Malia Scott Winberry, was killed by two family Rottweilers on May 25, 2021 at her rural home on Riparian Court, near Angier, North Carolina.
The location is approximately equi-distant from Willow Springs, an unincorporated community whose post office apparently serves the area. Local news reports identified the address as belonging to both Angier and Willow Springs.
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell told reporters that the victim’s father, Steve Winberry, briefly stepped outside to speak with a neighbor, heard noise indoors, and was attempting to revive his daughter when emergency medical services responded.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Scott Winberry and Bianca Patel for the tragic loss of their 10-month-old daughter, Malia Scott Winberry,” Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain Jeff Caldwell said, adding that there were no known previous issues involving the dogs and that no other small children were in the home.
Trainer: “Genetics trumps everything”
Reported Amanda Lamb of WRAL, from Raleigh, North Carolina, “In addition, at least one lawmaker is calling for changing into how the state tracks dog attacks after the death of 10-month-old Malia Winberry and 7-year-old Jayden Henderson,” killed by two pit bulls in Garner, North Carolina, just 15 miles away, “earlier this month.
(See Did North Carolina seven-year-old die trying to stop a dogfight?)
“Johnston County State Representative Donna White said she fully supports a detailed tracking system for dog attacks that involve specific information about breeds,” Lamb said.
Commented local dog trainer Javier Mendoza, “Genetics trumps everything when it comes to dogs. Training can help a lot, but it doesn’t change who the dogs are.”
Four-year-old killed on Mother’s Day
Later on May 26, 2021, Craig Doolittle, sheriff of Jefferson County, Montana, affirmed to media that four-year-old Elliott Jeffrey Sherwin, who lived with his grandparents west of Whitehall, Montana, had been fatally mauled by two Rottweilers on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2021.
Doolittle told the Montana Standard that the death remained under investigation, and autopsy results were not yet finalized, but confirmed that the fatal attack occurred inside the home of grandparents Jeffrey Sherwin and Shawna Smith shortly before 6 p.m.
According to an online obituary, “Elliott [also known as E.J.] was born December 8, 2016 to Emily Ann Sherwin. A precocious and outgoing child, Elliott was known by his friends and family to be smart, funny and oh so adventurous. Elliott loved reading about dinosaurs, volcanoes, and mighty machines. Give him some dirt, big puddles, and space to have ‘big adventures’ on and his imagination took over.”
Echoes of 2006 attack by breeder’s Rottweiler
The Elliott Jeffrey Sherwin death reminded Mike Smith of KPVI television in Great Falls of the February 2006 Rottweiler attack that killed four-year-old Dominic Giordano, of Ulm, Montana, just over two hours’ drive straight north.
Dominic Giordano, the son of Michael Giordano, reportedly then an active duty member of the U.S. armed services, and Emma Giordano, a disabled former member of the U.S. armed services, was mauled outside the home of aunt and uncle Tina and Matt Jones of Ulm.
The Giordanos were staying temporarily in the Jones home, according to Jared Miller of the Great Falls Tribune, “while they waited for a home purchase to be finalized in Great Falls,” after moving north from Colorado.
“The Joneses kept four Rottweilers kenneled in their backyard. Matt Jones said they raised the dogs for show,” Miller reported.
The Giordanos alleged, but the Joneses denied, that the three-year-old male Rottweiler who attacked Dominic Giordano had a history of dangerous history.
60-year-old woman & ex-Marine rescue two boys from Rottweiler rampage in Georgia
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Bill Torpy could not have known of the deaths of Malia Scott Winberry and Elliott Jeffrey Sherwin, which had not yet been announced, when he sent his May 26, 2021 installment to press and posted it online, but it proved grimly timely.
“Mary Ellen Merriam, 60, stepped from her Alpharetta home one afternoon two weeks ago to hear the chilling wails of children ‘screaming bloody murder,’ Torpy began.
“Merriam looked down the street to see Rett and Foster Godfrey, aged 8 and 6, fighting for their lives with two frenzied Rottweilers twice their size.”
“She threw herself across the younger boy, Foster, and was bit up herself,” Torpy narrated, but “that freed up Foster momentarily and allowed him to run a quarter mile home on torn legs.”
“Two steps & the dog was on his throat”
Hearing the fracas from a nearby yard, swimming pool installation foreman Joey Boassy , a 34-year-old ex-Marine, ran to the rescue.
“Rett had just gotten away from the dog, red from head to toe,” Boassy told Torpy. “He took two steps and the dog was on his throat, shaking his neck and just ripping it.”
Boassy “scooped Rett up and ran back towards the job site,” he continued to Torpy..
Wrote Torpy, “The dogs chased him and briefly knocked him down, but they stopped dead in their tracks” when another several men from the pool installation crew came out to investigate.
Foster, “bleeding profusely,” meanwhile reached the boys’ home and alerted their father, Scott Godfrey, who jumped into his car with the boy and rushed to the scene.”
Cited for “nuisance bites”
Recounted Torpy, “Rett had more than 30 lacerations and needed 300 stitches in his neck, shoulder, arms and groin. Muscles were destroyed. Foster endured almost as many stiches. Both spent three nights in the hospital.
“Fulton County Animal Services cited the dogs’ owner, Charlotte Claiborne Landy, for 10 ordinance violations, including ‘nuisance’ bites, having dogs at large and no county license,” Torpy noted.
“Landy dropped off a letter of apology and insurance info at the Godfreys’ home, but would not comment for this column. She told police the dogs had gotten out before but hadn’t been aggressive. They were euthanized this week.”
Animal Law Source attorney Claudine Wilkins recalled to Torpy, he wrote, that “a young boy’s scalp was ripped off a couple of months ago in Southwest Atlanta by a Rottweiler as the child’s dad tried to fight off the dog.
“The boy survived, she said, but added, ‘I’m tired of seeing autopsy photos of children. What bothers me is most dog bites are preventable.’
Finished Torpy, “After a serious attack, Wilkins said she often hears, ‘Oh, but my dog would never hurt anyone. How do they know that?’ she asked.”
Jamaka Petzak says
Yeah, “but my dog would never hurt anyone!” until it DOES.
Sharing to socials, with gratitude and all of the all-too-frequent thoughts and feelings I would like to relinquish but can’t as long as people prioritize dangerous dogs over everyone else. This would be such an easy problem to solve.