Tennessee attack killed two children and left mother in critical condition
MEMPHIS, LUBBOCK, LIVERPOOL, GQERBERHA––Five fatal pit bull attacks in nine days and three nations––the U.S., the United Kingdom, and South Africa––ended September and opened October 2022.
Three victims were children. All but one of the victims were members of the households of experienced pit bull owners.
Killed on October 5, 2022 in Millington, Tennessee, just east of Memphis, were five-month-old Hollace Dean Bennard and two-year-old Lilly Jane Bennard.
The two deceased were the only children of Kirstie Jane Bennard, 30, also known as Christi Bennard, and Hollace Colby Bennard, 34, usually called Colby Bennard.
Kirstie Jane Bennard, formerly Satterfield, also has a son by a previous marriage.
Mother now in “stable” condition
Injured while trying to save the children, transported to hospital in Memphis in critical condition, Kirstie Jane Bennard had reportedly improved to stable condition during the next 24 hours.
Relatives told media and posted to social media that Kirstie Jane Bennard had an “uncountable amount of stitches and bite marks over her entire body, including her face,” and that “both her ‘arms and legs are bandaged/wrapped up completely,” but Gibson reportedly did not believe she would suffer “any permanent damage.”
Both pit bulls involved in the attack were impounded by Memphis Animal Services. Both were euthanized on October 6, 2022.
Kirstie Jane Bennard reportedly worked as a respiratory therapist.
Colby Bennard, assistant manager for Bumpus Harley-Davidson dealership in Colierville, another Memphis suburb, was unharmed and is believed to have been at work when the pit bull attack occurred.
“Eight years ago,” reported Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling for the Reuters news service, “Colby Bennard shared a photo of two pit bulls [via social media] and referred to them as ‘house lions’, although it’s unclear if these are the killer pets.”
Kirstie Jane Bennard meanwhile used a photo of the two pit bulls who killed her children as her Facebook cover image.
Altogether, the Bennards appear to have kept at least three pit bulls during their five-year marriage.
Fumed Kelsey Gallini Canfield, identified as Kirstie Jane Bennard’s best friend, in a Facebook posting, “Why does something so traumatic and unimaginable have to be so publicized? Just to stir the pot on the war on pit bulls? You’re disgusting.”
Gallini overlooked that the first casualties of the “war” in her best friend’s home were the best friend’s two babies and the best friend herself, and that the babies were killed and the best friend was mauled into critical condition because the Bennards disregarded the lessons that they should have learned from 175 U.S. pit bull fatalities and 1,680 disfigurements just during the brief duration of their marriage.
Former Memphis pit bull breeder Marlo Matthews took a distinctly different view.
“I know how loyal pit bulls can be. I know how loving they can be,” Matthews told Jordan James and Autumn Scott of WREG, “but I also know how dangerous they can be.”
“You are playing with your life”
“Matthews has spent the last decade as a dog breeder. But he recently decided to get out of the industry out of concern for his children’s safety,” James and Scott explained.
Said Matthews, “You are playing with your life when you have those in your house. Something may never happen, but when it does, will you then be like ‘I should have gotten rid of this problem?’
“Something has to be done,” Matthews continued.
“A mandate, an ordinance, something has to be enforced to train these parents that these animals are far too dangerous to take the gamble [of having pit bulls] around small children.”
Hollace Dean Bennard and Lilly Jane Bennard died eight days after police in Lubbock, Texas, responded to an early morning pit bull attack on a woman at the Buddy Holly Lake Recreational Area.
Three pit bulls were captured at the scene.
A photojournalist who also responded to the police scanner call found the nearby remains of Jack Looney, 64, mauled to death on a late night walk hours earlier.
A local Democratic Party precinct captain, Looney was known to be a frequent late night walker.
Jack Looney was the third U.S. pit bull fatality of September 2022.
Rusty Shane Burris, 32, of Old Fort, Tennessee, was killed on September 9, 2022 by a dog described by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department as an “alligator” pit pull.
Mary Elizabeth Gehring, 88, of Golden, Colorado, died on September 17, 2022, three days after a family pit bull after two family pit bulls mauled Gehring and her 12-year-old grandson.
Third Lubbock-area dog attack fatality in 10 months
Looney was also the third Lubbock-area dog attack fatality in ten months.
Andrew Woods, 57, on June 10, 2022 reportedly died from a suspected heart attack while under attack by three pit bulls in Anton, a suburb west of Lubbock. Woods also suffered multiple bites.
Braylyn B. Culver-Green, 3, was killed in Lubbock on November 11, 2021.
There were also two pit bull fatalities in Lubbock in 2019. Five pit bulls killed Johnnie Mae Gardner, 88, on February 27, 2019. Only twelve days later a man reportedly in his thirties, whose identity was not disclosed, died from a “medical condition” while intervening in a pit bull attack on another dog.
Before that, the last fatal dog attack in the vicinity was the August 30, 2006 death of an unidentified homeless man, 49, who was killed by two female pit bulls kept at a junkyard near Spur, an outlying suburb east of Lubbock.
Pit bull breeder killed by her own dogs
Pit bull breeder Ann Dunn, 65, described by Natasha Anderson of MailOnLine based on relatives’ descriptions as “a lovely and funny grandmother,” was on October 4, 2022 “fatally mauled inside her home on St. Brigid’s Crescent in Vauxhall at her “dog breeding property” near Liverpool, United Kingdom.
“Dunn, who worked as a cleaner at Liverpool John Moores University,” Anderson summarized, “required hospital treatment in August 2021 after suffering a number of bites from a large dog, resulting in non-life-threatening injuries, The Liverpool Echo reported.
“It is unclear if the dog that attacked her last summer was involved in her death.
Dunn’s remains were discovered, Anderson continued, after she “did not turn up to collect her grandson from school.”
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
Added Dunn, “American bulldogs, which were the breed of dog found in the home, are not one of the four breeds currently banned in the U.K.”
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 explicitly prohibits possession of four “foreign” pit bull variants, the American pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasiliero, but allows pit bulls by any other name, including “American bulldog” and “Staffordshire,” both of which are essentially the same dog as an “American pit bull terrier.”
Dunn was the ninth U.K. dog attack fatality of 2022. The seventh dog attack fatality of 2022 broke the previous national record for one year. Dunn was the sixth 2022 victim of pit bulls who were mislabeled as something else, to evade the narrow definitions of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Furious response from pit bull advocates
Responding to Dunn’s death, and other recent pit bull attacks, The Mirror editorially appealed for the Dangerous Dogs Act to be amended to “Widen the list of banned breeds to make it illegal to own, breed or sell other dangerous types; bring in a new law requiring owners to register certain breeds that could be dangerous,” similar to laws already in effect in France and Austria, and require that, “Anyone wanting to own a potentially dangerous breed should attend a training course and the dog’s behavior should be assessed.”
This predictably drew a furious open letter in response from a “Dog Control Coalition” including the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, the Royal SPCA, the Scottish SPCA, and the British Veterinary Association.
Five of these organizations have vested interests in rehoming pit bulls. Three [at least] profit by treating pit bulls and the other animals they injure. One profits by registering pit bulls under various guises.
None have a clear mandate to promote public safety.
Ten-year-old killed in his home
Meanwhile in the Gelvandale suburb of Gqerberha, South Africa, the city formerly called Port Elizabeth, ten-year-old Storm Nuku was on September 26, 2022 killed by two family pit bulls while playing with two other children inside his home.
Police shot both pit bulls, but too late to save Storm Nuku.
Recalled Megan van den Heever of The South African, “In February 2022, a Potchefstroom domestic worker barely survived after she was attacked by her boss’s three pit bulls,” who “ripped off the woman’s nose, lips, ears, and thighs.
“Last month, René Memmel – a seasoned runner – was mauled by two pit bulls belonging to his neighbors whilst on a morning run in Edenvale, Johannesburg.”
These attacks and many others prompted Pit Bull Federation of South Africa spokesperson Lins Rautenbach to repeat a warning the federation has often issued since 2015 that people should not buy or adopt pit bulls as family pets.
Pit Bull Federation of South Africa
Acknowledged Rautenbach, “We do have a problem in South Africa, and unfortunately the very people who claim to be tasked with preventing this are actually exacerbating the problem.”
Summarized van den Heever, “Rautenbach stated that several key players like backyard breeders, irresponsible owners, rehabilitation centers, and even people who organize dog fights contributed to the dogs’ violent nature.”
Explained Rautenbach, “There is no excuse for a mauling and no victim deserves to be mauled. You cannot rehabilitate a poor temperament. Seventy-seven percent of maulings come from the family dog or a dog known to the victim.
“There is no place in society at all for a dog that exhibits human-directed aggression.”
Added van den Heever, “Rautenbach revealed that pit bulls who are easily accessible do not have a sound temperament and are ultimately a ‘recipe for disaster.’”
Of 45 known South African dog attack fatalities occurring since 2004, pit bulls have inflicted 33, or 73%.