Sau Nguyen, 79, of Houston, was the 12th grandma killed by pit bull, Rottweiler, Cane Corso, or Kangal in the U.S. this year, with no dog owners criminally charged
HOUSTON, Texas; BIRMINGHAM, Alabama––Practically the definition of a safe city is a place where women and old people can go out alone, unarmed, without fear of attack.
Houston, Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama, both flunked that definition in mid-November 2023, not even for the first time in 2023.
Sau Nguyen, 79, of Houston, enjoying an afternoon walk near her home, failed to return for several hours. Alerted by her husband, her adult sons went looking for her, reportedly finding her lying face down in a bayou less than 1,000 feet from her house.
“The sons told ABC13 that investigators told them their mother had puncture wounds on her body,” reported Courtney Fischer of KTRK-ABC13.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office apparently did not talk to sons & neighbors
“However, in a later update, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation is ongoing and there was no indication at the scene that the woman had been attacked by dogs. Investigators said while they were at the scene for several hours, no one mentioned anything about dogs.”
This claim seems rather implausible, in view that both of Sau Nguyen’s sons described seeing dog bite wounds to media, including to Fischer.
Several neighbors also complained about dogs they identified as Akita/pit bull mixes, who may actually have been a Kangal and a Kangal mix, allegedly attacking their pets and terrorizing the neighborhood, while Harris County Animal Control failed to respond to calls.
Or possibly just denied reality
“ABC13 cameras captured video of several dogs being removed from Nguyen’s neighbor’s house,” Fischer narrated, with the video showing the dogs being removed in the background.
“Sau Nguyen came to Houston from Vietnam with her husband over 40 years ago to raise their family, her sons told ABC13,” Fischer finished.
Sau Nguyen, the 57th known dog attack fatality in the U.S. thus far in 2023, a dozen grandmothers among them, was also the third Harris County dog attack fatality of 2023, and at least the tenth in ten years.
The first 2023 Harris County victim, a 69-year-old man who has yet to be publicly identified, was killed on February 1, 2023 while trying to save his poodle from attack by his neighbor’s two pit bulls after they invaded his yard.
The second 2023 Harris County victim was Jessica Flores Wauters, 59, fatally mauled on October 8, 2023 by her own three Rottweilers in the backyard of her home in Tomball, Texas, a northern Houston suburb.
Only one dog attack fatality prosecuted in Harris County since 2014
Only one of the 10 Houston dog attack fatalities, the January 5, 2014 mauling of Christina Bell Burleson, 43, by two free-roaming pit bulls, is known to have resulted in a criminal conviction of the dog owner.
Tiara Deshawn Thomas, 26, and Timothy Dewayne Coleman, 34, were both criminally charged for that attack about six months later.
Coleman, who had a prior conviction for dealing cocaine, received a nine-year prison sentence.
Thomas, who faced 12 misdemeanor counts, was reportedly no longer in custody as of July 2, 2014.
Grandmother’s death not prosecuted in Modesto
The circumstances of the fatal dog attack on Sau Nguyen, and the apparent indifference of the Harris County authorities to fatal dog attacks and dangerous dogs running at large, recalled the death of great-grandmother Chanthy Philavong, 93, “Maetu” to family and friends, who was fatally mauled by two Cane Corsos on August 31, 2023, in Modesto, California, moments after arriving home from a medical appointment.
Rescued by neighbors, Chanthy Philavong died in hospital two days later.
Updated Michelle Bandur on October 30, 2023 for KCRA-TV in Sacramento, California, “Philavong’s family doesn’t understand why the Stanislaus District Attorney’s office is not filing charges against their neighbor who owns the dogs.
“The family said it’s tough seeing their next-door neighbor, the man who owns the two dogs that attacked their grandmother.
“The district attorney said there is not enough evidence to support criminal charges,” Bandur summarized.
“What evidence more do you need? They killed somebody.”
Responded Philavong’s granddaughter Ashley Koomavong, “What evidence more do you need? They killed somebody.”
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office in a prepared statement said that, “Detectives conducting the investigation, which included a search for prior attacks or bites by the dogs, a canvas of the neighborhood and social media posts, witness interviews and review of camera footage, found no evidence to support criminal charges.
“As tragic as these cases are,” the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office contended, “in order for the owner to be criminally liable, the owner must have some prior knowledge or notice that the dogs are dangerous and would act in such a manner. Here, there was no evidence that the dogs had previously bitten anyone or that the dogs were trained to be vicious or attack people.”
Ignoring breed history
But the entire breed history of the Cane Corso demonstrates that they were produced in the first place to be vicious and attack people, whether one accepts the breed fancy claim that they were Roman war dogs, or examines the actual historical record, detailed in Cane Corso: A pit bull by any other name.
To allow a dog bred for centuries either to be war dog or a fighting dog to run at large should be legally recognized as a crime at least as serious as drunk driving, especially when a fatality or disfiguring injury results.
Underscoring that point was the death two weeks before Philavong of fellow 93-year-old Jeane Bennett, of Blytheville, Arkansas. Attacked in her own yard by three free-roaming pit bulls on June 3, 2023, Bennet was––like Chanthy Philavong–– rescued by neighbors, but succumbed to her injuries after hospitalization.
Neighbor David Veasey, 43, was charged with two counts of felony aggravated assault, two counts of unlawful dog attack, and various violations of Blytheville city ordinance.
Bicyclist killed by dogs in Alabama
A week before Sau Nguyen was found dead in Houston, Sharon Kaye Billups Portis, 63, was on November 9, 2023 found lying dead beside her bicycle on the grass shoulder of a road in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Jefferson County coroner found that Portis died from injuries due to “an apparent dog attack,” apparently while bicycling home from work.
Residents of the area told media that free-roaming pit bulls, some of them videotaped by local television crews, are a constant menace in the vicinity.
Sharon Kaye Billups Portis was well-known in her neighborhood as a bicycling enthusiast.
Her death followed the February 28, 2023 fatal mauling of Joe Cleveland Scott, 73, found dead in McDonald Chapel, Alabama, just outside Birmingham.
At least six free-roaming dogs including multiple pit bull mixes participated in killing Scott, who was reportedly taking a morning walk when attacked.