List of fatal dog attacks in the United States

Fatal dog attacks in the United States cause the deaths of about 30 to 50 people in the US each year,[1] and the number of deaths from dog attacks appears to be increasing.[2] Around 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, resulting in the hospitalization of 6,000 to 13,000 people each year in the United States (2005).[2] A 2018 literature review with meta-analysis by breed, focusing on dog bite injuries to the face, head and neck, concluded that "of the cases in which the breed was known, the Pit-bull was responsible for the highest percentage of reported bites across all the studies followed by mixed breed and then German Shepherds," and that "injuries from Pitbull's and mixed breed dogs were both more frequent and more severe."[3][4]

Injuries, illnesses, and fatalities resulting from encounters with dogs are a major public health concern worldwide. Dogs not only cause morbidity and mortality as a result of bites, but they may also transmit zoonotic infections, which may also result in illness or death. Dogs are the main source of rabies transmission to humans worldwide. It is estimated that 3% to 18% of dog bite wounds become infected, with occasional cases of meningitis, endocarditis, and septic shock leading to death reported. Children have the greatest risk of death.[2]

Below are lists of fatal dog attacks in the United States reported by the news media, published in scholarly papers, or mentioned through other sources. In the lists below, the breed is assigned by the sources.

Fatalities prior to year 2020Edit

Fatalities in 2020Edit

Date Location Victim's name Victim's age Category of dog Circumstances
January 8 Taos Pueblo, New Mexico Kay Torres 52 years pack of dogs Torres was found near an intersection on Tribal Lands, being attacked by a pack of dogs. The caller stated she fended off the dogs with a broom. The FBI reported that an autopsy performed on Torres concluded that she died from an "apparent dog attack" and not, as was rumored on social media, a homicide.[5] Taos Pueblo is an Indian Reservation, with a large population of dogs owned by residents and permitted to roam freely, according to Torres' sister.[6]
January 9 Dayton, Ohio McKenzie Terwell 4 months pit bull type dog Around midnight, the father of the infant called 911 after he returned to the home and found his daughter on the floor, unresponsive. The Commander of the Violent Crime Bureau stated that the child had been attacked by the family dog and died from her injuries. The coroner ruled the death an accident and stated the child died from blood loss. The incident is under investigation by the Special Victims Unit.[7]
January 10 Rockcastle County, Kentucky Donald Abner 55 years pit bull Police were called to the home after a neighbor called 911. They found Abner in the backyard being attacked by the dog and its owner, Melissa Wolke (38). Wolke was sitting on Abner and punching him in the face while the dog attacked him. Wolke had to be tased to remove her from Abner's body and the police put down the "overly aggressive" dog named Denali. The victim had bite wounds on his head and face. Wolke was charged with murder.[8][9]
January 25 Lafayette, Indiana Julian Connell 1 month pit bull mix The pit bull mix was fighting with a beagle mix in the family home. The teenage son removed the beagle from the room to get it away from the pit bull. The pit bull mix then attacked the baby. The coroner stated that one month old Julian died from multiple sharp, catastrophic injuries to his head and neck.[10][11] The boy's mother was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury.[12]
January 30 Attala County, Mississippi Harvey Harmon, Jr 76 years 2 pit bulls and 2 mixed breeds The victim was pulled out of his wheelchair by four dogs and mauled to death in his front yard in the Palestine community. The two pit bulls belonged to Harmon's nephew and the two mixed breeds were strays that "hung around" the area. 3 of the 4 dogs were put down by a veterinarian at the scene, the 4th, one of the strays, escaped.[13]
February 10 Oro Grande, California Sterling Vermeer 5 years pit bull The family pit bull, "Thor", killed Sterling in the family home. The 5-year-old was dead by the time the police arrived. A family member called 911 stating that the pit bull attacked the child and would not let go.[14]
February 11 Plainfield, Illinois Devin White 25 years pit bull In an unprovoked attack, the family pit bull attacked the victim and 3 other adults (a 52-year-old woman, a 25-year-old woman, and a 19-year-old man). All four victims were taken to the hospital, but White later succumbed to the severe injuries he received when his pit bull mauled him after he tried to stop the attack on the other people in the home.[15]
February 18 Knott County, Kentucky Corey Godsey 13 years pack of feral dogs The victim was killed by dogs on a rural hillside. An investigation by state police led to DNA matches with several feral dogs at a nearby mine site.[16][17]
February 23 Crawford County, Georgia Lee Alvin Bechum 76 years pit bulls (2) + Labrador-mix (1) The victim was found dead outside his home with dog bites. Autopsy confirmed the cause was traumatic injuries due to a dog attack. The neighbors were arrested two weeks later and charged with involuntary manslaughter. The three dogs were confiscated.[18][19]
February 27 Shreveport, Louisiana Geraldine Hamlin 64 years 2 pit bulls Hamlin was attacked by the two family pit bulls in her home she shared with her son and died as a result of her injuries.[20]
March 3 Chipley, Florida Beverly Jean Dove 60 years pack of dogs The victim was attacked by a pack of at least five dogs while walking near the assisted living facility of which she was a resident. The dogs lived on a nearby property and were not stray. All of the dogs were captured by animal control.[21]
March 9 Portsmouth, Virginia Demi Witherspoon 2 years pit bull The family dog bit the child's face completely off.[22][23]
April 11 Portland, Oregon Frederick Shew 70 years Mastiff The victim was killed by his own dog after going to bed. The victim's housemate heard a loud noise and when he went to check on it, he found the dog biting and shaking the victim's neck. The housemate was able to wrestle the dog away from the victim; it was too late, however, and the victim died from the bite wounds before paramedics arrived. The dog had a history of aggression and was previously involved with several bite-related incidents. The dog was seized by authorities and was euthanized the next day.[24]
April 12 Fort Worth, Texas Sharon Rene Baldwin 60 years pit bull The elderly wheelchair-bound woman was attacked on March 28 by a dog in the household which bit her arm, shoulder and neck. Her death two weeks later was listed as "mauling by canine." The dog was held for two weeks and then euthanized.[25]
April 22 Memphis, Tennessee Doris Arrington 59 years <unspecified> The victim was found dead after being attacked, and four dogs covered in blood were discovered at a nearby house. Three people, the owners of the dogs, were indicted and arrested on reckless homicide charges. The dogs had been the subject of several previous aggressive incident complaints and all four were euthanized.[26]
May 7 Lyons, Georgia Nancy Shaw 62 years <unreleased> (4) A local doctor was found lying dead in a ditch with her car door open and the engine running. She had been attacked by dogs. Three dogs were found and seized; a fourth had been killed by a neighbor.[27][28]
May 9 Fox Lake, Illinois Lisa Urso 52 years French Bulldog mix, possibly a Shorty Bull The victim was found unresponsive on the back patio of her home with multiple dog bite-related injuries after being attacked by her family dog. The dog had been involved in two previous bite incidents, one of which had required her boyfriend to seek medical attention after the dog bit him.[29][30]
May 28 Mount Vernon, Arkansas Robert Taylor 9 years pit bulls (2) The boy was mauled and killed by the neighbor's pit bulls when he had gone outside to check the mail. The dogs had been aggressive in the past. The dog's owner was arrested on a "felony tampering with physical evidence" charge.[31]
May 31 Murray County, Georgia Skylar Headrick 11 years Neapolitan Mastiffs (2) The victim was attacked by the two family dogs and was found deceased by her older sister on the basement floor of her home with injures consistent with dog bites. The victim's family stated that the two dogs were never aggressive towards anyone before. The dogs were surrendered and are no longer with the family.[32]
June 1 Stockton, California Brice Sanders 2 years pit bull A toddler was attacked by a dog on May 31 and mauled. He was transported to a hospital and died the following day.[33]
June 3 Country Club Hills, Illinois Kati Amos 70 years <unspecified> (4) Police arrived during the attack of four dogs on an elderly woman in a yard. She was taken to hospital and pronounced dead. The dogs belonged to the victim and her relatives. One dog was killed on scene and the other three confiscated.[34]
June 11 Hartford, South Dakota <undisclosed boy> 6 weeks Belgian Malinois The infant was bitten several times by the family dog. He was flown to a hospital where he later died. The dog was seized.[35]
June 28 Mandeville, Louisiana Barbara Cook 72 years pit bull The victim was killed after being attacked by her daughter's two pit bulls near Mandeville, Louisiana. At the time of the attack, Barbara was babysitting her grandson and put herself between her grandson and the dog in an attempt to protect him.[36]
June 29 Hunt County, Texas Baby Jonah 23 months pit bull The toddler had gotten out of his enclosed yard, unnoticed, and was attacked in the street by a neighbor's dog which escaped its four-foot chain link fenced yard. The child was transported to hospital but did not survive his injuries. The dog was seized.[37]
July 1 Jeffersonville, Indiana Donald Ryan 62 years pit bull The victim was still being attacked at his home by his own dog when responders arrived. After trying pepper spray, a police officer shot the dog to stop the attack.[38][39]
July 5 Joliet, Illinois Marley Wilander 1 year pit bull-mix The child was attacked in an upstairs bedroom in the middle of the night. The child's family had been visiting the household for a July 4 party and the household dogs had been confined to the basement.[40]
July 16 East Providence, Rhode Island Scarlett Pereira 1 year pit bull In an unprovoked attack, the family dog attacked the child when the adults went outside for lunch and placed the child on the ground. Two adults were injured trying to intervene in the attack. Responders were unable to capture the dog, which was loose in the backyard, and later climbed onto the roof and shot it.[41][42]
August 7 Akron, Ohio <undisclosed baby boy> 7 months pit bull The child was attacked by the 7-year old family dog while in the arms of his great-grandmother.[43]
August 26 Belleville, Illinois Stephen Pemberton Sr. 61 years pit bull (2) The victim was attacked by two dogs in his home. The two dogs were usually kept in the laundry room when the dogs' owner, the victim's 45-year-old stepson, left the house. The stepson's wife and another adult remained shut in another room during the attack and phoned the dog's owner, who arrived home to find his stepfather dead.[44][45]
August 28 Margate, Florida Carolyn Varanese 84 years American Bulldog or pit bull or pit bull-mix The victim was killed in her home by the dog that her son had adopted only a few weeks earlier. Her son was injured trying to stop the attack. The dog was seized by animal control and euthanized.[46][47]
September 11 McCurtain County, Oklahoma Undisclosed 70 years pit bull (2) An elderly woman was attacked when she was dropped off by her daughter at her other daughter's house. The victim suffered extremely severe facial lacerations and a partially amputated leg. The woman's two daughters were also bitten, and all three women were transported to a hospital. A family member euthanized the dogs.[48]
September 29 Gray Court, South Carolina Jacqueline Robinson 32 years Pit bull-mix (3) The victim was killed by three dogs while walking along a lane. The dogs were seized from a nearby property. The dogs' owner was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and three counts of possessing a dangerous animal.[49][50][51]
October 8 Moses Lake, Washington Zachary S. Willis 27 years pit bull or mix One man was killed and a woman seriously injured. The dog lived at the home with the victims.[52]
October 14 Schofield Barracks, Hawaii <undisclosed> 3–4 months <unspecified> An infant suffered head injuries when attacked at home by a dog, and was pronounced dead at Tripler Army Medical Center. Reports differ on whether the infant was three or four months old.[53][54]
October 19 Nauvoo, Alabama Ruthie Mae Brown 36 years <unspecified> (5+) The victim was killed by a pack of dogs while walking down Jagger Road.[55] Two of the animals were turned in by their owner, while three others were captured.[55] The pack was familiar to people who lived in the area, and a witness stated the victim was attacked by seven or eight dogs.[56]
October 23 Tulsa, Oklahoma Curtis Wickham 26 years pit bull (3) Three pit bulls attacked Curtis Wickham after he got into a fight with the dogs' owner, Benjamin Spence. Wickham died from his injuries at the hospital.[57] Police arrested Spence after prosecutors charged him with second degree murder for ordering his dogs to attack Wickham.[58][59]
October 26 Hampton, Virginia <undisclosed> <undisclosed>(infant) German Shepherd A German Shepherd killed an infant while the baby was sleeping in their parents' bedroom. The baby's father woke during the attack and killed the dog immediately after.[60][61]
November 17–18 Bascom, Florida Donald Allen Sr. 65 years pack of dogs A pack of dogs killed the victim at some time during the night of November 17–18 while he was walking along an isolated dirt road.[62] Law enforcement authorities later released trail camera photos of the dog pack believed to be responsible for the killing.[63]
December 11 Battle Lake, Minnesota Deon Bush 14 years German Shepherd The victim was killed when he went outside in the back yard to care for a male dog his family kept for breeding purposes. The dog was euthanized at the family's request.[64][65]
December 17 Joliet, Illinois Erick J. Quinn 46 years pit bull The victim was killed when he tried to calm the five-year-old dog, which had become agitated when two women in the home Quinn was visiting began arguing about money.[66]
December 20 Tallahassee, Florida <undisclosed female> <undisclosed> Pit bull The victim was trying to stop two pit bulls from fighting when she was attacked by a third pit bull. There were four adult pit bulls and nine three-week-old pit bull puppies living at the home.[67]

Fatalities in 2021Edit

Date Location Victim's name Victim's age Category of dog Circumstances
January 20 Brunson, South Carolina Cameron Hatfield 6 years Pit bull Hatfield was killed at home by the dog, which was later seized and euthanized by animal control authorities.[68] The victim's mother had recently taken the dog in as a stray and was trying to find a new home for it.[69]
February 10 Kearney, Nebraska <undisclosed female> 1 month American Bulldog The victim died of blunt force and cranial trauma inflicted by the dog, which was later euthanized.[70]
February 15 Porter, Texas Deann Stephenson 59 years Pack of 4 dogs

(Hound, German Shepherd, Black Mouth Cur)

Stephenson was killed while walking to the store when the dogs attacked her after escaping through an open gate from a landscaping company's fenced-in property. The dogs' owner was cited for failure to provide proof of rabies vaccinations and for failing to contain them. Animal control authorities euthanized the dogs after the owner surrendered them.[71]
March 16 Carteret, New Jersey Aziz Ahmed 3 years (2) Pit bull Ahmed and his mother were in their own fenced-in back yard when the dogs attacked them after digging under the fence from the adjoining yard. The boy was evacuated by helicopter and died of his injuries at a local hospital, while his mother was hospitalized with serious injuries. The dogs were shot and killed by police who responded to the incident.[72][73]
March 19 Springfield, Illinois A’Myrikal Jolynn Hull 1 year Pit bull - Patterdale Terrier mix Hull was bitten on the head when she got too close to the dog while it was eating and died at the hospital. Family members said the dog had no violent history with humans or other dogs.[74]
April 1 Cocke County, Tennessee Tony Ahrens 52 years Pack of dogs Ahrens body was found by the side of a road with lacerations and flesh missing from his left arm. Authorities were unable to find the dogs that killed him.[75]
April 27 Garner, North Carolina Jayden Belle Henderson 7 years (2) Pit bull Heather Trevaskis and her daughter, Jayden Belle Henderson, were taking care of the pit bulls while the dogs' owners were out of town.[76] The dogs were seized by animal control authorities and euthanized after a court ruled the city did not have to return the dogs to their owners.[77]
April 30 Fort Worth, Texas Elayah Brown 4 years Mixed breed Brown was killed in her home's back yard by the family dog.[78] The dog was seized and euthanized by animal control authorities.[79]
May 7 Sulphur, Louisiana Dustin Vincent 27 years Pit bull (3) Vincent was attacked when he went to visit a relative and entered the back yard where the dogs were, despite being warned by the property owner not to do so. He suffered severe wounds to his head, face, and legs, and was in critical condition after being airlifted by helicopter to a hospital.[80] He died of his injuries on May 11.[81]
May 9 Whitehall, Montana Elliott Sherwin 4 years Rottweiler (2) Sherwin was declared dead at the scene after two dogs attacked him at his grandparents' house. Both dogs were euthanized.[82][83]
May 10 Norwich, Connecticut Carter Settles 1 month Pit bull mix Settles was being held by a relative when the dog jumped up and inflicted multiple traumatic injuries. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene and the dog was seized by law enforcement authorities,[84][85] who announced it would be euthanized.[86]
May 11 Big Spring, Texas John Henry 46 years Pit bull mix Henry died after suffering a heart attack that investigators attributed to being attacked by the dog, which also attacked one of two neighbors who tried to drive it off. The dog was eventually frightened away by police gunfire, and its owner later surrendered the dog to animal control authorities for euthanasia.[87][88][89]
May 16 Fort Defiance, Arizona Lyssa Rose Upshaw 13 years pack of dogs Upshaw was killed while she was walking near her home.[90][91] Family members searching for her were also attacked by dogs, as were police responding to the call that her body was found, according to Upshaw's mother. Animal control authorities seized 12 dogs found in a locked building near the location where her body was found as evidence.[90]
May 24 Veguita, New Mexico Jose Ortega 53 years Pit bull-mix (4) Ortega was killed at the house where he was being paid to water the outdoor plants. A deputy sheriff shot one of the four dogs; animal control authorities seized and euthanized all the dogs found at the scene,[92][93] including six pit bull-mix puppies that were found to be too aggressive to be adopted.[94] The dogs' owner was charged with felony possession of a dangerous dog that caused the death of a human being without provocation, felony tampering with evidence, and a misdemeanor count of failing to report a death.[94]
May 25 Willow Spring, North Carolina Malia Scott Winberry 10 months Rottweiler (2) The family dogs attacked Winberry inside her home after her father walked outside the house to move a water sprinkler in the yard.[95] Animal control authorities took control of the dogs.[96]
June 9 Elizabeth, New Jersey <undisclosed male> 3 years Pit bull (2) The family dogs killed the boy after he fell out of a window into the back yard. Animal control authorities seized the dogs to be euthanized.[97]
June 13 Marion County, South Carolina Shamar Jackson 7 years pack of mixed breed dogs Jackson was killed while trying to save his Chihuahua from a pack of dogs that had escaped their owners' property. Jackson's two older brothers escaped with the Chihuahua over a nearby fence, but the dogs pulled down and killed Shamar when he was unable to climb the fence. Law enforcement authorities seized five adult dogs and a puppy from the dog owner's property,[98][99] and the owner was charged with involuntary manslaughter.[100]
June 19 Skiatook, Oklahoma Rebecca McCurdy 28 years Pit Bull (1+) McCurdy was killed while house sitting and taking care of dogs for a friend who was breeding pit bulls for sale. Sheriff's deputies who arrived to check on McCurdy's welfare found her body in the garage along with several caged dogs, one cage toppled over, and signs of a dog attack.[101] The medical examiner confirmed she was killed by a dog attack, and the owner surrendered all the dogs for euthanasia.[102]
July 6 Phoenix, Arizona Maria Eliza Sebastian Ruiz 77 years Staffordshire Terrier-mix (4) Ruiz was killed on her front porch by her neighbor's dogs after they escaped from their yard. Animal control authorities seized and euthanized the dogs, which had a history of escaping and biting the neighbors, and their owner was charged with negligent homicide.[103]
July 12 Cocke County, Tennessee Amber Miller 22 years Pack of 3 dogs Miller died in a hospital six days after being found with one her calves

ripped off and her arms barely attached to her body.[104] This was the second fatal dog attack on the same road in four months (ref. Tony Ahrens on April 1).[75]

July 18 El Paso, Texas <undisclosed female> 59 years Pit bull (2) The victim was killed by her daughter's dogs while house sitting at her daughter's house. Both dogs had food and water available and appeared well-cared for. Animal control authorities seized both dogs.[105]
July 18 Toledo, Ohio Emily Kahl 31 years Pit bull Kahl was killed by bite trauma to the neck inflicted by the dog, which was owned by another person who lived in the home. Animal control authorities seized and euthanized the dog.[106]
July 28 Miller Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania Rhoda Marie Wagner 60 years Pit bull (3) Wagner was killed and partially eaten by the dogs while she was pet sitting them for her roommate. A passerby called police when they saw her lying in the front yard with the three dogs running loose. Animal control authorities seized the dogs and euthanized them with the owner's consent.[107]
August 10 Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York Ryan Francis Foster 19 months Rottweiler The dog killed Foster after his father left him and his two older brothers alone with the dog at his parents' apartment while his parents were out of the country; Foster's brothers were uninjured. His father was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and acting in a manner injurious to a child.[108]
August 12 Toledo, Ohio Javon Stokes 26 years Pit bull The dog killed Stokes when he suffered a grand mal seizure. The dog was taken by animal control authorities.[109]
August 14 Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii Dolores Teresa Oskins 85 years Pack of dogs (2) The dogs attacked Oskins while she was in her neighborhood looking for her lost dog; she died 22 days after being attacked. Her husband and another family member who went to help her were also attacked, but they were treated and released. Animal control authorities seized two dogs.[110]
August 21 Wilkes County, North Carolina Mildred Catherine Vaughan 89 years Pit bull,

Pit-bull mix (2)

The dogs attacked Vaughan when she walked out to her mailbox; she was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition and died of her injuries nine days later. Animal control authorities seized and euthanized the dogs, which were a female and her two offspring, which were not yet adult dogs.[111]
September 14 Lebanon, Indiana Loretta Mae Moore 84 years Pack of 5 dogs: Pit bull, Husky (2),

<unspecified> (2)

Moore's adult son found her body when he returned home from work. Moore was partially dismembered and an autopsy found she had been killed by dogs; police found blood on the mouths of all the dogs and found a broomstick that was broken to bits and covered in blood. Moore's son owned four of the dogs; the fifth was a pit bull he was fostering on behalf of a pit bull rescue group. Authorities seized all the dogs, but returned them at the owners' request because local laws and ordinances did not allow them to euthanize dogs without the owners' consent if the dogs killed someone on the owners' property.[112][113]
September 22 Phenix City, Alabama Frank Cobb 70 years Pit bull Phenix City police responded to a dog attack at 2 A.M. and found Cobb suffering from wounds. Cobb was taken to the local hospital and then to a regional hospital where doctors tried to re-attach his limbs, but he died of his injuries. The suspected dog was found dead and sent to a lab for testing.[114][115]
September 24 Myrtle Point, Oregon Amber Dawn Labelle 42 years Pit bull-American Bulldog mix The 120-pound dog attacked Labelle when she opened a door to a room in her apartment where the dog had been constrained. Labelle had been watching the dog for a friend, who had closed the dog in the room; the friend was watching the dog for its owner while the owner was out of town. Labelle was flown to a regional hospital where she died of her injuries the next day. Police shot and killed the dog when it lunged at them as they arrived.[116]
September 24 Coweta County, Georgia Alex Binyam Abraha 21 years Pit bull (2) Abraha's body was found outside the house of the dogs' owner. An autopsy confirmed he had been killed by a dog attack, and police said there was evidence that Abraha had been an intruder inside the house. The dogs were seized by authorities as part of the investigation.[117]
October 3 Akron, Ohio Ka'Vay Louis-Calderon 16 months Pit bull (1+) One or two dogs became agitated and attacked the victim while her uncle was standing at the front door having an argument with a woman. One of the dogs had broken through the front door and attacked a mail carrier four months earlier. Both dogs were seized and euthanized by animal control authorities.[118][119]
October 18 Matthews, Indiana Kathleen Bertram 69 years Pit bull The dog bit down on Bertram's throat after she fell out of a chair while holding her 3-year-old granddaughter. Family members pulled the dog away and called rescue personnel, who found Bertram bleeding from both sides of her neck and administered CPR, but they declared Bertram dead at the scene. The dog was seized by animal control authorities.[120][121]
October 19 Kodak, Tennessee Bentley Parker 7 months St. Bernard The victim's family was visiting his grandmother when their family dog killed him and attacked his grandmother, who was trying to defend him. The dog was killed by law enforcement authorities when it acted aggressively towards rescue personnel responding to the incident.[122]
October 20 Creek County, Oklahoma James McNeelis 7 years Sheltie-Corgi mix The victim's body was found in his own back yard, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation determined he had been attacked by a dog, which was seized by animal control authorities. The family had taken the dog in three weeks earlier as a stray.[123][124]

See alsoEdit

Species:

ReferencesEdit

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