The Miami-Dade death was one of four fatal dog attacks, at least three & perhaps all four, in less than a week
KENDALL, Florida––Alexander Andres Torres, 29, on or about December 18, 2023 became the first fatality attributable to the passage of Florida House Bill 941, repealing a Miami-Dade County ban on possession of pit bulls that had been in effect since 1989.
“The body of Alexander A. Torres, who just turned 29 last week, was discovered by a friend, according to a written statement by Miami-Dade police,” reported Maricion Maldonado and Peter D’Oench for CBS Miami.
“Complainant advised he was calling his friend all day and he was not answering the phone and when he showed up to the house he was found covered in blood and possibly dead and the dog was acting suspicious,” a police dispatcher said, according to a 911 call transcript.
Torres’ mauled remains were found in his garage at the intersection of Southwest 123rd Court and 104th Terrace. His yellow Ford Mustang was parked just outside.
“A family member told CBS News Miami’s Peter D’Oench that Torres had some physical issues that limited his mobility, and said he had owned the [pit bull who killed him] for several years. He said Torres was a good man and said family members and friends were deeply upset,” Maldonado added.
Torres, a graduate of Miami Killian Senior High School who had attended Miami-Dade College, had posted many photos of his pit bull to social media since 2021.
Scarlett Cooney of WUFT News in Gainesville, Florida supplied partial political background after Florida House Bill 941 took effect on October 1, 2023, “prohibiting governmental public housing authorities from banning dogs based on their breed, weight or size. The law also overturned remaining breed bans by local governments.”
The Miami-Dade pit bull ban was passed, Cooney recounted, after “In 1989, 7-year-old Melissa Moreira underwent facial reconstruction surgery after being severely attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull.”
What Cooney omitted, and perhaps did not know, was that attempts to ban pit bulls from Miami-Dade began in 1945, after Doretta Zinke, 39, was killed during an evening walk by nine pit bull terriers kept by Joe Munn, 43, of Hialeah.
Attack shared headlines with World War II
Fatal dog attacks on humans in the U.S. were then so rare that Zinke’s death shared headlines nationwide with some of the fiercest fighting of World War II.
Twenty-six pit bulls, some implicated in previous attacks on humans, were impounded from Munn and killed.
The Humane Society of Greater Miami, which then held the Miami-Dade animal control contract, claimed to have received hundreds of calls of protest from pit bull advocates throughout the U.S.–an almost unheard of response in an era when long-distance calls were expensive and had to be manually connected by an operator.
Munn served one year of a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter.
Paroled, Munn acquired more pit bulls. Two of them in 1955 mauled Harry Smalley, 73, after attacking Smalley’s dog.
But another 35 years of deliberation elapsed, while many other pit bulls killed and injured animals and humans, and pit bull enthusiasts vigorously lobbied against a ban, before the Moreira attack finally tipped the Miami-Dade political balance against pit bull defenders, who ranged from the Humane Society of Greater Miami to advocates of legalizing dogfights and segregationist splinter groups associated with the Ku Klux Klan.
Though continuously under attack by pit bull advocates, the Miami-Dade pit bull ban was upheld by county voters by a 63% to 37% margin in August 2012.
Meanwhile, ignoring the letter of the 1989 bylaw, Miami-Dade Animal Services chief of shelter operations and enforcement Kathleen Labrada consistently failed to enforce the county pit bull ban as written, again and again redefining pit bulls as designated in the bylaw as “American bulldogs” to avoid having to impound and euthanize them.
The Miami-Dade body count
Non-enforcement of the ban to the letter contributed to Torres’ death, since he had the pit bull who killed him for at least two and a half years, and contributed to four previous fatalities:
Javon Dade Jr., age four, was killed by his father’s pit bull on August 13, 2014.
Carmen Reigada, 91, was killed on September 22, 2015 by a household pack including a pit bull, a Rhodesian ridgeback, and a Labrador mix.
Nyjah Espinosa was killed by her father’s pit bull on December 20, 2015, days short of her second birthday.
Carolyn Varanese, 84, of Margate, was killed on August 31, 2020 by a pit bull released by Miami-Dade Animal Services to Mastiff Rescue of Florida before being rehomed to the victim’s son, Joseph Varanese, 57.
Carol Streit of Spokane
Alexander Andres Torres was among four U.S. victims of fatal dog attacks in the six days from December 13 through December 19, 2023. Their deaths brought the known list of U.S. dog attack fatalities in 2023 to 67, 55 by pit bull, four by dogs of undisclosed identity.
Three and possibly all of the four victims were killed by pit bulls. Two and possibly three victims were killed by their own pit bull. All four victims were killed without witnesses, but all of the dogs were found near the victims’ remains.
The first of the four victims, Spokane Regional Health District employee Carol Streit, was found dead in a field on December 16, 2020 just east of the Spokane city limits, but within the developed part of the city.
Security video shows seconds before the fatality
Streit’s recently adopted pit bull was beside her. Security camera video later turned up, aired by KHQ television news in Spokane, showing Streit having difficulty controlling the pit bull while walking toward the scene of her death and then, a step after leaving the picture, screaming “No! No!”
Spokane County medical examiner Veena Singh on December 21, 2023 reported that “The death in this case was a sudden cardiac death caused by a disease of the heart muscle,” called an arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. Singh insisted that “careful examination at autopsy proved that injuries to her arms occurred after death (postmortem animal predation) and did not cause or contribute to death.”
However, fatal heart attacks triggered by the stress of trying to control an unruly dog, or the immediate stress of coming under dog attack, are actually relatively frequent, and disproportionately often involve pit bulls, who are also disproportionately often involved in cases of posthumous dismemberment of human remains.
“Streit was located with her dog shortly after 4:00 p.m., the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. A caller reported a woman lying face down next to a dog ‘with blood on its body,’” reported Alexandra Duggan for the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
“Streit’s pants were pulled down below her waist and she was wearing only a sports bra,” Duggan continued. “Her arms were injured so badly,” with evident defensive wounds, “that bone was exposed, the records said, and her right hand was missing.
“Blood-stained clothing was also found in a field adjacent to Streit’s body.
“The dog, who was not on a leash, was acting ‘protective’ and ‘aggressive,’ which prevented medical personnel from assessing the unresponsive woman’s condition, the sheriff’s office said.
Another way to describe the situation was that Streit was dead meat and her pit bull, having stripped her remains, was “resource guarding.”
SCRAPS: “partner of Best Friends”
Added Duggan, “The dog is being held at Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service,” called SCRAPS for short, “pending further investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. County spokesperson Pat Bell said the dog has no bite history. Streit adopted the dog in October from SCRAPS.”
On Halloween, October 31, 2023, just before trick-or-treating started, a family pit bull who was reportedly adopted from the SCRAPS shelter eight weeks earlier killed five-year-old Colton Michael Kline at his home in Spokane.
The two fatal attacks in 46 days by pit bulls recently rehomed from the same shelter might be dismissed as merely a grim coincidence, except that the “partners” page at Best Friends Animal Society “Save them all” web site mentions, “Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) is a partner of Best Friends.”
Since the Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab, Utah, made pit bull advocacy a focus cause following the Michael Vick dogfighting case broke in April 2007, 87 dogs cleared as “safe” by humane society behaviorists have participated in killing 56 Americans.
66 of those 90 dogs were pit bulls. Nine were other “bully” breeds. Four were Rottweilers.
505 dogs cleared as “safe” by humane society behaviorists had (as of yesterday) participated in gravely disfiguring Americas; 330 of those dogs were pit bulls.
This compares with only four rehomed dogs in the entire previous history of humane society adoptions dating back to 1858 having killed anyone: two wolf hybrids in separate incidents in 1988, plus a pit bull and a Doberman in separate incidents in 2003.
Adoption volume flatlined
The Best Friends Animal Society emphasis on pit bull advocacy, meanwhile, has been emulated by the American SPCA, the Humane Society of the U.S., and Maddie’s Fund, among many others.
Total U.S. adoption volume has been flatlined since 1982 at about 2.5 million dogs per year rehomed by shelters and rescues.
The problem is not more dogs being rehomed; rather, it is more pit bulls being recklessly rehomed to meet the Best Friends Animal Society recommended target of a 90% “live release rate,” also pushed by the American SPCA and Maddie’s Fund.
The identity of the next pit bull victim, a man found at about 8:30 a.m. on December 15, 2023, about a third of a mile south of Wellton Towing, in Wellton, Arizona, has yet to be disclosed by the Yuma County Sheriff’s Department.
According to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Department, “The initial investigation revealed a male victim, 59, was attacked the night prior by a canine,” described as “a male gray-and-white spotted pit bull of approximately 100 pounds.”
The pit bull escaped the scene but was already well known to police, who issued an electronic “wanted” poster with a photo of the pit bull on it.
Later on December 15, 2023, the pit bull was found dead on nearby Interstate 8, near milepost 35, at an on-ramp just north of Wellton Towing.
Wellton property records indicate that the land, buildings, and business were sold on April 13, 2023.
Local social media postings allege that the pit bull who killed the man belongs to the new owners of Wellton Towing, who also have not been identified.
“Had to drive down there & fire my pistol”
A Wellton man named Hunter Granlund has posted that the “same dog that almost killed me,” causing him severe injuries to both of his arms, killed the unidentified man found on December 15, 2023, and that Granlund is suing the owner of the pit bull, whom Granlund told ANIMALS 24-7 is named Ryan Richards.
A Ryan Richards is identified on various web sites as owner of Chief Bee Towing in Yuma, Arizona.
“If it hadn’t been for a close-by neighbor, I’m sure I would have died,” Granlund added.
Another Wellton man, Jesse Fajardo Jr., posted that, “This same dog a few months ago attacked a guy at the same place. I live down the street,” Fajardo Jr. said, “and had to drive down there and fire my pistol to get them to stop. They would have killed him! That dog should have been destroyed then!”
The pit bull was, however, returned to the owner after that incident, according to Granlun.
Phoenix attorney Greg Rosenthal has identified himself as representing Granlund, but has shared no further information about the case.
Fatal atack in Big Spring, Texas
The most recent of the four fatal dog attacks in six days came in Big Spring, Texas.
The victim, Jason Bullard, who celebrated his 40th on November 26, 2023, was found at about 8:45 a.m. by Big Springs police outside the Howard County Fair Grounds, across the street from a bowling alley, about half a mile from the home he shared with his father, a retired postal worker, and his mother.
“Upon arrival officers found a group of dogs running from the area,” the police report said, adding that “the deceased has evidence of dog predation,” and that “Big Spring Animal Control has taken measures to identify, locate and seize two of the dogs involved in this incident.”
No further information about the dogs was given.
Second fatality in three years
Big Springs, population 28,000, has for years had issues with both free-roaming pit bulls and a vocal coterie of pit bull advocates clamoring for the community animal shelter to go no-kill.
Resident K’Lyn Gillespie, age nine at the time, barely survived an October 17, 2017 pit bull attack. Her friend Autumn Miller, then age 11, fought the pit bull off by “hitting the dog with her scooter,” reported Lauren Tropea of CBS-7 in nearby Midland, Texas.
Big Spring resident John Henry, 46, was killed by loose pit bulls at about 6:00 a.m. on May 11, 2021.
Two neighbors, one of whom was bitten, and police who shot at the pit bulls tried unsuccessfully to rescue Henry.
Reported Sammi Steele for KWES television in Midland, “Neighbors tell NewsWest 9 the man was dragged up and down the sidewalk before police arrived.
“They had sticks, they had a tire even, all throwing it at the dog,” witness Tracy Myrick told Steele. “The dog would stop a little bit and then go back to the man.”
But dozens of social media postings, many of them made directly to the Big Spring Police Department page on Facebook, established that allegedly lackadaisical response to frequent complaints about pit bulls running at large were a longstanding community grievance.
Similar response to Jason Bullard’s death suggests nothing much has changed.