As of this writing, it has been reported that Johnny Wilson, 56, a resident of Chicago Illinois, was killed in his own home by pit bulls being raised by his daughter. There were no witnesses to the attack. (To read more, click here.)
The immediate question is whether the dog is actually killed the man. He was found with numerous bite marks on his body, and authority said that he suffered massive head, chest and upper body trauma. There were 4 adult pit bulls and 2 puppies in the home. However, in the past few years there have been one or 2 cases where people have not been attacked by dogs, but have collapsed as a result of medical conditions, and then were chewed by the dogs. There will be an autopsy later today to determine what exactly happened in this case.
The Director of the Animal Care and Control office was quoted as saying,"dogs don't normally attack people in their own homes, so there's a lot to investigate." That statement is inaccurate and misleading. Going back only one year, the majority of fatal dog attacks in 2009 took place either inside the victim's home, in his own backyard, or inside the residence of a babysitter or neighbor. A number of victims were killed by their own dogs in their own home.
It is important for the public to understand that the dog bite problem is not caused by stray dogs, but by dogs that we and our neighbors own. Approximately 75% of all dog attacks are inflicted by dogs belonging to the victim's family, friends, relatives and neighbors. It is important to know this because owning the dog means owning the problem, and owning the solution too. In other words, when it is fully understood that the problem dogs belong to ordinary people — not monster dogs, not criminals — we can start working on ordinary solutions.
The story of Johnny Wilson's death presents a lot of instructive material, even before all the facts are known. Let's start with the number of dogs that were involved: four. It is well known that an increase in the number of dogs brings an increase in the amount of risk. More than one dog is a danger factor according to the Dog Attack Danger Scale.
These were pit bulls. This breed presents a higher risk of injury and death than other breeds. The presence of a pit bull, or more than one, also is a danger factor according to the Dog Attack Danger Scale.
The daughter was breeding these dogs. Puppy mills and backyard breeding may account for the increased violence that has been noted in pit bulls and a number of other breeds in recent years. When there is an unusual demand for a certain type of dog, the less ethical breeders and the backyard breeders focus on sales; these types of breeders are unconcerned about undesirable characteristics (such as aggression) of their breeding stock and their puppies. Therefore the breed can change very rapidly, and for the worse.
The solutions are as follows. If you are going to have more than one dog, they need to be controlled more stringently, in a manner appropriate for your household and circumstances. If the 4 dogs are pit bulls, they might be appropriate in an apartment building, and a good degree of control and confinement would be appropriate for a home. And as for breeding, well, that is a serious occupation that requires education and discretion.
From a legal standpoint, the number of dogs living in a place, and the breeding of dogs, can be controlled by zoning laws coupled with stringently enforced, dog licensing ordinances.
It is best to derive from these incidents as much detail as possible, so that we can make necessary corrections in our own behavior and laws. It is not enough to simply chalk this up to yet another pit bull homicide. Like most of the dogs that bite and even kill, these dogs had an owner. Dog owners control the extent of the dog bite epidemic, and ultimately can make things better or worse for our communities.