Took daughter’s pit bull out; daughter’s pit bull took her out
TOLEDO, Ohio––Washington Local Schools bus driver Bonnie Varnes, 58, who prominently advocated for pit bulls on social media, was on February 20, 2023 killed by one of her daughter Amelia Brooke Varnes’s two pit bulls.
Amina the pit bull was leashed as Bonnie Varnes took her outside, according to security video obtained by the Toledo Police Department, but pulled the victim down and mauled her at some point between 5:54 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.
Bonnie Varnes had been home alone for several hours after meeting with a friend at the CROX Bar & Grill that afternoon. Amelia Brooke Varnes, 30, told police she last saw her mother at about 8:30 that morning.
A neighbor smoking a cigarette near his second-story window noticed Bonnie Varnes’ body in her yard, with Amina the pit bull running in circles around her, the police incident report said.
The neighbor immediately called Amelia Brooke Varnes, who lived with her mother, called 911 at 6:23 p.m., and then ran to Bonnie Varnes’ home himself to see if he could help.
Amelia Brooke Varnes arrived to find Bonnie Varnes’ bloody body, locked the pit bull Amina in their garage, and shut a second pit bull, Peaches, in a bedroom.
Bonnie Varnes was pronounced dead on arrival at the University of Toledo Medical Center, at 6:30 p.m.
Amelia Brooke Varnes reportedly described Amina as vicious “at times.”
Bonnie Varnes was the third fatality inflicted by a pit bull in Toledo in less than three years, following the deaths of Emily Kahl, 31, at her home on July 18, 2021, and Javon “Foofur” Stokes, 26, at a friend’s home on August 11, 2021.
A previous Toledo pit bull fatality, Shirley Wright, 89, was attacked by a pit bull from a neighboring household on May 6, 2017. Wright died from complications of her injuries on June 8, 2017.
Bonnie Varnes was also at least the 19th fatality in Ohio inflicted by a formerly restricted dog breed since the Toledo Blade waged an unrelenting multi-year campaign, 2008-2012, to rescind a phrase in the Ohio state dangerous dog law that recognized pit bulls as inherently “vicious” and therefore subject to extended safety requirements for those who chose to keep them.
The Toledo Blade also campaigned successfully to repeal the Toledo and Lucas County bylaws that for 25 years prohibited keeping pit bulls, and to fire 22-year Lucas County dog warden Tom Skeldon for conscientiously enforcing the laws as written.
John Robinson Block
Toledo Blade publisher John Robinson Block, 67, also owns the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, among a variety of other print and broadcast holdings.
Block, shortly after acquiring a pit bull himself, forbade mentioning pit bulls in connection with dog attacks, except when unavoidable and then only in quotes, two former Blade reporters told ANIMALS 24-7 at the time,
ANIMALS 24-7 in Emily Kahl: 16th fatality attributable to 2012 gutting of Ohio dog law detailed Block’s efforts to undo public protection from pit bulls, and his bizarre subsequent record.
Staff vote of “no confidence”
Block, for instance, published an editorial widely decried as racist on Martin Luther King Day 2018.
Block prevented African-American reporters from covering protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in June 2020.
Block also tried to delete mention that the rioters who stormed the national capital in Washington D.C. on January 8, 2021 were there in support of defeated former U.S. president Donald Trump.
Eventually, on November 18, 2019, Block received an almost unprecedented vote of “no confidence” from the newsroom staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over a variety of actions including, according to their resolution, having “Fired or forced out three beloved newsroom managers, with combined service of nearly 100 years to the Post-Gazette, because they stood up to his dictatorial actions.”
The Post-Gazette staff has now been on strike for five months, after Block terminated employees’ health benefits effective on October 1, 2022.
The Ohio dog law amendments that Block sought, pushed through the state legislature by the pit bull advocacy organization Animal Farm Foundation, the Best Friends Animal Society, and then-Montgomery County Animal Resource Center director Mark Kumpf, took effect on May 23, 2012.
Fired in early 2019, Kumpf took with him to his present position as Detroit animal control director a record including five human dog attack fatalities on his watch, two more than any other animal control director in U.S. history.
All five Montgomery County dog attack victims were killed after the Ohio dog law was weakened; four of the five were killed by dogs whose possession formerly would have been prohibited or restricted.
No fatal dog attacks have occurred in Detroit during Kumpf’s tenure.
Ohio human fatalities caused by dogs since 2012
Victims of dogs restricted under the old law (19)
Makayla Darnell, 3 days, Lima, OH, 5-17-2012. Killed by grandmother’s pit bull while the amended law was pending.
Dawn Juergens, 75, Montgomery, OH, 9-1-2012. Killed by her own two Cane Corsos.
Klonda Richey, 57, Dayton, OH, 2-7-2014. Killed by neighbors’ two Cane Corsos.
Jonathan Quarles Jr., Dayton, OH, 7 months, 7-2014. Killed by grandmother’s pit bull.
Cindy Whisman, 59, Madison Township, 8-1-2014. Killed by daughter’s pit bull.
Annie Williams, Shaker Heights, OH, 7-12-2015. Killed by her son-in-law’s pit bull.
Maurice Brown, 60, Dayton, OH, 4-24-2017. Neighbor’s pit bull.
Shirley Wright, 89, Toledo, OH, injured 5-6-2017, died 6-8-2017. Neighbor’s pit bull.
Michael Parks, 60, Fostoria, OH, 7-20-2017. Killed breaking up fight between his pit bull & another.
Barrett Hagans, 1 month, Knox County, OH, 9-20-2017. Killed by parents’ pit bull.
Haze Groin, 2 months, Hamilton County, OH, 11-7-2017. Killed by parents’ pit bull.
Delia Riley, 42, Cincinnati, OH, 8-22-2018. Killed by own pit bull.
McKenzie Terwell, 4 months, Dayton, OH, 1-9-2020; family pit bull.
Boy, seven months, Akron, OH, 8-7-2020; killed by pit bull at grandmother’s house.
Raelynn Larrison, 4 months, Dayton, OH, 12-31-2020; officially, smothered by pit bull.
Emily Kahl, 31, Toledo, OH, 7-18-2021. Killed by housemate’s pit bull.
Javon Stokes, 26, East Toledo, OH, 8-11-2021. Killed during seizure by pit bull kept by two friends.
Kavay Louis-Calderon, 16 months, October 3, 2021, Akron, OH. Killed by two pit bulls in home, one of whom previously attacked a mail carrier.
Bonnie Varnes, 57, 2-20-23, Toledo, OH. Killed by family pit bull in yard.
Other Ohio dog-inflicted fatalities, 2012-2021 (5)
Elizabeth Louise Hirt, 93, Bethel Township, OH, found badly mauled by her two Boston terriers on November 27, 2012. Remaining in intensive care for the next two weeks, she died on December 11, 2012.
Mia Gibson, 3 months, Columbus, OH, 12-10-2013. Killed by parents’ Shiba Inu.
Aiden Grim, 3 days, Youngstown, OH, 2-7-2016. Killed by parents’ GSD/Lab mix.
Sophia Booth, 2 weeks, Cleveland, OH, 11-3-2017. German shepherd.
Mary Matthews, 49, Clear Creek, OH, 11-1-2019. Officially, two Great Danes.