As many U.S. children were killed by pit bulls within 5 days in June 2021 as have been killed by canine rabies since 1968
ATLANTA, Georgia––Which is more likely to kill an American, a rabid dog or a pit bull?
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 14, 2021 upstaged notice of the most recent of a dozen fatal pit bull attacks on Americans just this year by announcing a suspension of dog imports from 113 nations believed to have endemic canine rabies.
Tried to catch runaway Chihuahua
The pit bull attack death of seven-year-old Shamar Sherif Jackson the night before, 323 miles east in Marion County, South Carolina, was sparsely reported by local media and not noticed at all beyond the immediate region.
Shamar Sherif Jackson and his two brothers were trying to catch their runaway Chihuahua, their father Carnell Jackson said, when they met multiple pit bulls, notorious throughout the neighborhood from past incidents, who had escaped under a fence and were in pursuit of the Chihuahua.
An older brother scrambled over another fence to safety. The younger brother tried to climb the fence, but fell backward and was fatally mauled.
Chained pit bulls & breeding
Ironically both Carnell Jackson’s Facebook page and that of his wife, Roseann, include numerous photos of pit bull litters and a chained pit bull who appear to have been their own.
Reported local television stations WMBF and WRDW/WAGT, “Shamar wasn’t scared of dogs because he had one, his dad said.”
Said Carnell Jackson, “He loves dogs. I told him, ‘Shamar, not everyone’s dog is like your dog.’”
Said the CDC, which has not studied pit bull attacks since 1989, more than 500 U.S. pit bull fatalities ago, “This suspension,” imposed due to concern about the accidental import of canine rabies, applies to all dogs, including puppies, emotional support dogs, and dogs who traveled out of the United States and are returning from a high-risk country.
“This action is necessary,” the CDC continued in a media release, “to ensure the health and safety of dogs imported into the U.S. and to protect the public’s health against the reintroduction of canine rabies virus variants.”
There is an authentic reason for the CDC to worry that rabies might return to the U.S., fourteen years after it was officially pronounced eradicated through vaccinating dogs against rabid infection.
Falsified rabies certificates
“During 2020, the CDC discovered more than 450 dogs arriving in the U.S. with falsified or fraudulent rabies certificates, a 52% increase compared with the previous two years,” revealed CDC Division of Global Migration & Quarantine veterinarian Emily Pieracci.
Rabies is for all practical purposes 100% fatal.
Not even a dozen people have ever reportedly survived rabies, most of whom have suffered severe brain damage. Those few who have survived without severe brain damage, through a procedure called the Wisconsin protocol that involves placing the rabies victim in an induced coma and treating the rabies symptoms, have all been adolescents within a very narrow age range.
Rabies contracted abroad
At least seven humans have died in the U.S. from canine rabies contracted abroad since canine rabies was declared to be history here.
The most recent fatality was a 65-year-old female resident of Virginia who suffered a dog bite in 2017 while traveling in India, six weeks before falling ill.
Americans also suffered fatal rabid dog bites in the Philippines in 2015, Guatemala in 2013, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Haiti in 2011, and India in 2009.
But the two most recent human deaths from canine rabies contracted within the U.S. were a seven-year-old girl, bitten by a rabid dog in Texas in June 1979, and a 13-year-old boy who was bitten by a rabid dog in Kansas in 1968.
Those two deaths in 53 years equals the number of American children killed by pit bulls in the first two weeks of June 2021.
10 dog-related fatalities in May 2021
The victim previous to Shamar Sheriff Jackson was a three-year-old, believed to be Elijah Soto, who fell through a third floor window on June 9, 2021 at his family home in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Suffering a neck injury upon landing, the child according to witnesses was immediately mauled by two pit bulls belonging to the family.
The June 2021 pit bull attack deaths of the two children followed a record ten dog-related fatalities around the U.S. in May 2021, four of them inflicted by pit bulls, two by Rottweilers, one by a pack believed to include pit bulls, one in a car crash believed to have resulted when a husky bit the driver, and two from shootings that followed a pit bull bite incident.
(See Navajo Nation: “They hid the dogs who killed my daughter!” and Six dog-related fatalities disclosed in 24 hours, but key info withheld.)
Criminal charges filed in just one case
Only one of the May 2021 deaths, that of Jose Ortega, 53, on May 24, 2021 in Veguita, New Mexico, has resulted in criminal charges against a pit bull owner.
In that case, neighbor Dominic Ribera is charged with third-degree felony possession of a dangerous dog who caused the death of a person, fourth-degree felony tampering with evidence for allegedly trying to conceal the hole in his fence through which his 10 pit bulls escaped, and a misdemeanor count of failure to report a death.
Ribera reportedly admitted to investigating officers that he saw Ortega lying dead near his house, but waited for three hours and then notified authorities when Ortega did not respond to being poked with a stick.
Ortega, ironically, was a pit bull owner himself.
One of Ribera’s pit bulls was shot dead at the scene by a Socorro County sheriff’s deputy.
Jeffrey Vincent Nicholas, 27, was charged with fatally shooting Concho County Sheriff’s Office deputies Samuel Leonard, 26, and Sergeant Stephen Jones, 34, on May 10, 2021, but a sheriff’s office spokesperson said Nicholas did not own the pit bull whose attack brought the deputies to the scene.
“Empty shelters driving increased demand” for foreign pups
Meanwhile back at the CDC media conference, Emily Pieracci, DVM, explained that the suspension of dog imports from the 113 rabies-endemic nations “is temporary and will be reviewed periodically.
“Early on in the [COVID-19] pandemic,” Pieracci said, “shelters were reporting record-low numbers [of dogs available for adoption] because everybody was adopting pandemic puppies. And so there is a possibility that there may be a correlation between empty shelters here driving an increased demand to purchase puppies overseas.”
Altogether, Americans import about a million dogs per year, Pieracci added.
“We recognize that this is not the long-term solution,” Pieracci continued. “We are animal lovers. We support people wanting to import dogs from overseas, but we really want to make sure that it’s done safely.
Exemptions & delayed enforcement
“There are a limited number of exemptions for Department of Defense personnel who are relocating to the US who are moving their personal pets. It is not for them to bring back rescue dogs,” Pieracci emphasized.
“We are going to make sure those dogs are microchipped so dogs are not switched out at the last minute,” Pieracci said.
The CDC suspension of dog imports from the 113 nations will not take effect immediately. Posted in the Federal Register on June 14, 2021, the suspension will first be subject to a 30-day comment period, meaning that dog imports will not actually stop until July 14, 2021.
Rabies from wildlife
Increased CDC attention to the risk of canine rabies returning to the U.S. from abroad follows several recent discoveries of unvaccinated dogs contracting other forms of rabies from wildlife, which the dogs could in turn have passed along.
In May 2021, for instance, an unvaccinated six-month old dog in Detroit was found to be rabid, the first such case in Michigan since a rabid dog turned up in Oakland County in 2011.
On December 31, 2020, a dog who bit a female child on the jaw at a Texas deer camp tested rabid. Because the bite was so close to the brain, immediate treatment was necessary, but the girl was reportedly injected with the needed immunoglobulin and did not develop rabies.
Also in December 2020, a rabid dog bit three people near Burlington, North Carolina.
In August 2020 the Nebraska Humane Society reported euthanizing an American Eskimo puppy who developed rapid symptoms after playing with a rabid bat in an Omaha back yard.
International organizations ignore the data
The longterm answer to preventing both human and dog deaths attributable to rabies, whether of the canine strain or wildlife variants such as bat rabies, fox rabies, and raccoon rabies, is obviously enough to ensure that all dogs are vaccinated.
Toward that goal, the World Organization for Animal Health [OIE] on May 31, 2021 announced that Namibia and the Philippines had become “the first two countries with OIE-endorsed official control programs for dog-mediated rabies,” having been the first two nations to “apply for such approbation by the OIE World Assembly. This is a great move forward in the fight against this disease, which still kills nearly 60,000 people every year.”
While the World Organization for Animal Health, the similarly named World Health Organization, and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control continue to distribute the wild guess of 60,000 human rabies deaths per year, it has not the slightest factual foundation, as ANIMALS 24-7 has repeatedly detailed, and is in truth at least 120 times higher than the highest body count demonstrable from even the World Health Organization’s own research.
(See Rabies plummets in India while “experts” ignore the data.)
India, believed to have most rabies deaths, has had 530 in past five years
India is believed by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to have the vast majority of human rabies deaths worldwide.
Yet the 2020 Indian national rabies death survey by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, the Indian equivalent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, showed for the 18th consecutive year that the Indian rabies case load is magnitudes of order less than is supposed––in the utter absence of any actual body counts higher than the official counts––by the World Organization for Animal Health, the OIE, and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.
All three organizations raise significant funding around the claim of astronomically high numbers of victims.
Actual annual rabies death totals reported by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence were 125 human rabies deaths for all of India in 2014, up from an initial report of 98 due to late-arriving case reports; 113 in 2015; 86 in 2016; 97 in 2017; 116 in 2018; and 118 in 2019.
India had 132 human rabies deaths in 2013, after averaging 249 since 2005, according to Central Bureau of Health Intelligence data.
WHO uses 110-year-old data?
Much of the input data for the extrapolated numbers favored by the OIE, World Health Organization, and Global Alliance for Rabies Control appears to originate with a national survey of government hospitals published in 1911 by David Semple and William F. Harvey, done just before they introduced post-rabies exposure vaccination to India.
The same 1911 survey furnished the baseline data still used for projections of rabies deaths in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, all of which were also then under British administration as part of colonial British India.
The Central Bureau of Health Intelligence uses essentially the same survey method, but expedited by the use of electronic communications.
Studies funded by the World Health Organization have supported both the high and the low numbers––the high number coming from literature reviews tending to recycle the older estimates, the low number from an actual hospital study done in 2003 by M.K. Sudarshan, director of the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences in Bangalore.
Sudarshan found 235 human rabies deaths for the whole of India, consistent with the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence findings.
National Dog Bite Awareness Week
The CDC announcement of the suspension of dog imports from rabies-endemic nations coincided with the U.S. Postal Service observance of National Dog Bite Awareness Week, June 11-June 18, 2021.
National Dog Bite Awareness Week was separated this year from National Dog Bite Prevention Week, marked in April 2021 by American Humane, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm Insurance, and the celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, who call themselves the Dog Bite Prevention Coalition.
(See Dog Bite Prevention Week: payouts for dog attacks up 21% in three years.)
Trucks & group boxes reduce attacks on mail carriers
As during National Dog Bite Prevention Week, National Dog Bite Awareness Week publicity materials have included no recognition of the breed-specific causes of the explosion in fatal and disfiguring attacks that included 5,800 injuries to mail carriers in 2020.
This was marginally more than the 5,714 dog attacks on mail carriers reported in 2018, more than 500 fewer than in 2017 and over 1,000 fewer than the 6,755 attacks on mail carriers reported in 2016.
The decreasing number of attacks on mail carriers coincides with an increase in deliveries by FedEx, United Parcel Service, and other package delivery companies, and the steadily declining distance covered by mail carriers on foot.
Dog attacks on mail carriers peaked in the 1980s, at more than 7,000 per year. Mail carriers then covered approximately half again as much of their routes on foot as today, when many neighborhoods are served entirely through group boxes, reached by truck.
Bonny T .Lee says
This is really on target. Those of us who advocate for safety and for victims of dog attacks have communicated these concerns to the CDC numerous times. The CDC stopped keeping breed information years ago, most likely due to pressure from the well-funded pit bull advocacy groups such as Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society of the U.S., and our own Virginia Federation of Humane Societies. Somehow, neither the photos of those 18 dead children from last year nor the mounting number from this year move hearts as much as a Sarah McLaughlin song.
Merritt Clifton says
The American SPCA might have had a part in pressuring the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to discontinue tracking fatal dog attacks by breed after 1989, having begun pit bull advocacy in 1984, but the Humane Society of the U.S., in fairness, continued to advocate against pit bull proliferation until after the Michael Vick dogfighting case broke in 2007. Then HSUS, after initially recommending euthanasia for the Vick fighting dogs, abruptly reversed positions, under pressure from the American ASPCA and the Best Friends Animal Society, which raised millions of dollars in the name of saving them.
Kathee Ferris says
It just amazes me how people defend this breed! I realize ALL dogs can be dangerous, BUT THIS breed, in particular, is nasty most of the time😓
Saw on Inside Edition a Chihuahua bit off a woman’s eyelid! GO FIGURE!
THANKS💖 for your information! I’ll try to share it!
It is my understanding that the elderly man who died in a car crash was bitten by his dog which was a panicky animal that was trapped and in pain. The car crash killed him. The dog did exactly what a normal trapped, injured dog does. It bites. That’s why injured dogs often need to be muzzled for protection against those bites. Please verify the actual cause of this man’s death.
The canine strain of rabies was considered eradicated in the USA.
However, strains of rabies more often affecting bats, coyotes, skunk, raccoons are still quite common.
I share everyone’s concern about pit bulls. If a pit bull injures and/or kills people and/or animals, that animal can easily be destroyed.
If rabid animals are imported and the disease is not caught early, many animals and/or people can be exposed. If the animal is running in an area where it exposes wildlife, eradication becomes difficult.
Some years ago, a dog was imported and came into the USA through California. The dog reportedly had lousy temperament. It was then sent to a vet clinic in Alaska. It played with dogs and people but was nasty. By the time the dog died of rabies, about fifteen people needed rabies vaccinations. I don’t know what was done with exposed dogs. If any of the exposed dogs had been out with wildlife, there could have been extensive spread of the virus with extreme effort and expense to corral it.
If one does not witness his/her dog/cat being attacked by a wild animal, the dog/cat could develop.rabies months later with many people and animals exposed and dying. When fighting rabies, one cannot see the virus. So control is tough.
Fortunately we have little problem with rabid packs of feral dogs. With severe bites to the face, the virus could kill the person before that person could develop immunity.
Rabies has been found in organ transplant recipients with fatal results. In one case, rabies was identified in the donor organs and rabies prophylaxis was quickly started on the organ recipients. They survived.
In another case, a woman died of rabies contracted from a corneal transplant.
Please understand me. I consider both problems unacceptable. What if a pack of wild dogs in Texas had rabies? Breed would not matter.
In college, I saw a video of a man dying of rabies when a pack of wild rabid dogs attacked his tribe. He didn’t die of the dog bites, but he was just as dead.
A wildlife rehabber picked up a very disoriented raccoon with a badly scraped up face in the side ditch of a rural road. We assumed it had been hit by a car and had a bad concussion. However, the next day the rehabber called me to tell me the raccoon was destroying its own face.
Later it began to seizure, and she euthanized it. Necropsy at Purdue indicated this raccoon had canine distemper which was what I thought. However, rabies and advanced canine distemper cause similar clinical signs. I told my rehabber to get rabies vaccinations for herself, as maybe some animals that looked like they had distemper had rabies or rabies along with distemper.
It’s quite easy to control vicious pit bulls by destroying them. Dogs must be confined. No packs should be allowed. Dog bites are usually easy to recognize. File criminal charges on folks letting their dogs roam. The big difference is rabies cannot be seen before it is too late. I’m sad that people die of dog bites.
We could protect the entire American public from rabies by automatically vaccinating all people in the country but that would be expensive.
I know that rabies is more common in the USA than most people believe.
Why? People with rabies are often believed to be suffering from strokes. The bites cannot be found.
So how about working to eliminate both problems? Of course, rabies cannot be eradicated. Still, there is no reason for bringing in sick dogs.
Imported dogs from South Korea are believed to be those who brought in a strain of influenza which has made many dogs sick and killed some. The vaccine for it is expensive.
Merritt Clifton says
Concerning the Leon Peysen fatality in Hewitt, Texas, on May 6, 2021, no new information is available. However,
something caused Peysen to abruptly accelerate at a high rate of speed in reverse. A bite to his neck so severe that the police mistook it for a gunshot wound is a reasonable hypothesis; that this was inflicted by a dog who was reportedly hanging upside down by a paw at the time is less likely, and leaves the sudden reverse acceleration unexplained. It is also possible that one of the three dogs in the car jumped on the gas pedal, but a dog jumping on a gas pedal usually hits the brake as well, since the pedals are beside each other, and this does not explain the reversal, although Peysen might already have been backing up.
The editors of ANIMALS 24-7 have considerable direct experience with rabies, both in dogs in several nations abroad and in wildlife (bats and raccoons) in the U.S., and have written extensively about rabies prevention over many years. We in no way discount the threat of rabies, from any source. However, the real-life body count from canine rabies in the U.S., from all sources combined, over the past 53 years is lower than the body count from pit bull attacks in any one year of the past fifteen.
John Dalley says
While we fully support the need for stringent disease control measures, a blanket ban on the import of dogs into the USA from Thailand will unjustly penalize rescue organizations like Soi Dog Foundation who pose absolutely no threat to human and animal health in the USA.
We are based on the rabies-free island province of Phuket and have lawfully complied with the CDC’s requirements for importing dogs for many years. Our dogs are fully vaccinated, correctly documented and present absolutely no health risk whatsoever to humans or other animals.
However, the ban means these dogs, who have endured unthinkable pain and suffering on the streets, will be denied the chance to experience the love and safety of a home.
The USA has long been a place of refuge for Soi Dog rescues. In the past four years alone, over 700 of our dogs have left the shelter for loving homes in states across the country.
We are lobbying the CDC to exempt reputable organizations such as Soi Dog Foundation from the import ban.