Sunday, December 13, 2015

Port Huron Official Blames the Victim

Revised: December 13, 2015; 20: 44 GMT
Revised: December 14, 2015; 20:15 GMT

"She climbed the fence and jumped in and basically subjected herself to the attacks, which constitutes a purposeful act."

   -- Dr Ljubisa Dragovic
       Chief Medical Examiner, Oakland County
Rebecca Hardy, d. December 3, 2015

On Wednesday, December 2, 4-year old Xavier Strickland was pulled from his mother's arms and mauled before her eyes by four pit bulls on Detroit's West Side. "They just ate him," said his mother later. On the following day 22-year old Rebecca Hardy was mauled to death in a Port Huron back yard.

There are few questions about the attack on Xavier; Geneke Lyons, the dogs' owner, has been charged with 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, and possessing dangerous animals causing death.

But no one saw Rebecca Hardy wander into a neighbor's fenced yard as evening was falling the next day. She may have been distraught. She may have been tipsy, disoriented, or simply thoughtless. She may have wanted companionship from what she took to be companionable dogs. She may have wanted a moment's respite from a difficult life. Whatever she was thinking, she entered the wrong back yard and was killed.

Because Rebecca's life was young and unsettled, her terrible death has been exposed to public scrutiny.

We do not know why Rebecca climbed over the fence (if she did), and neither does Dr Dragovic. But in statements made to the press the doctor referred to her death as a suicide. A British newspaper has labeled Dr Dragovic's statements "bizarre".1, 2

Dr Dragovic claims to understand Rebecca's motives at the moment she entered the dog's back yard, even though she left no note and told no one. Somehow Dr Dragovic knows what the the 22-year old mother was thinking when she climbed over the fence. Dr Dragovic officially determined that Rebecca wanted the dogs to kill her by mauling her to death. There must be countless ways to commit suicide; choosing to have your body ripped apart by dogs must be the most horrifying and painful ways to accomplish it. People who want to end their lives do not choose to be eaten alive.

A neighbor noted that the dogs often ran free and were troublesome. Many believe that Rebecca could have been killed by pit bulls that escaped and pulled her back into their yard, under or through the poorly maintained fence, as happened the previous day to Xavier.3

Moveover, Dr Dragovic revealed elements of Rebecca's personal medical history to journalists. Who then published it. Dr. Dragovic broke a cardinal rule of the medical profession. He exposed private medical records to the scrutiny of the public.

It has been a long process but decades ago we learned to not blame victims of rape for being victims of rape. Victims of domestic abuse are often still blamed for being victimized. Now Dr Dragovic has added a new class of victims to those who are held accountable: victims of fatal pit bull attacks.

Only a thorough investigation will satisfy the public. Dr Dragovic should be censored by the Michigan Board of Medical Examiners and the Michigan Association of Medical Examiners. A public apology is also in order.

2015 marks the fourth consecutive year in which pit bulls have been involved in at least 30 human fatalities. Two of those deaths occurred on successive days this month in Michigan. The Michigan House of Representatives is currently considering a bill which would preempt Breed Specific Legislation in the state. Legislators who are closest to the fire often fail to recognize the cause of the fire, and the bill to preempt BSL may pass. Senate bill 239, a bill written to protect dangerous dogs, has been heavily promoted by pit bull advocacy groups. The results of the vote will not alter the groundswell of public opinion favoring public safety protections from pit bulls.

* * * * *

Pit bull crisis growing; victims need help
   by Joan Kowal
   December 20, 2015; Lansing State Journal

Laws to protect pit bulls would prevent attacks
   By Teresa Chagrin, PETA
   December 15, 2015; Port Huron Times Herald

Time for Detroit to ban pit bulls
   By Jack Lessenberry
   December 15, 2015; Windsor Star

Pit bull attacks are not a racial issue
   by Joan Kowal
   December 13, 2015; Port Huron Times Herald

Pit bull-type dogs have no place in civil society
   by Lori Welbourne
   December 11, 2015; Detroit News

Pit bulls were never meant to be household pets
   by Lori Welbourne
   December 8, 2015; Port Huron Times Herald

Detroit should adopt pit bull ban it didn't 9 years ago
   By Rochelle Riley
   December 5, 2015; Detroit Free Press

Let local laws determine how to reduce dog attacks, restrict breeds
   by Mia Johnson and Joan Kowal
   December 4, 2014; MLive

1   Death of mother, 22, who was mauled in pit bull attack is bizarrely ruled a SUICIDE as medical examiner says she climbed into their enclosure on purpose to get mauled; December 10, 2015; Daily Mail
2   Correction: Dr Dragovic's finding that Rebecca Hardy's death was suicide may, in a clinical sense, be accurate. In a purely forensic sense, suicide means simply that the death was not of natural cause, occurred through the actions of the victim, and no one else caused it to occur. However, Dr Dragovic also refers to Ms Hardy's motivations, which none of us are privy to. His public announcements are misleading, inflammatory, and caused unnecessary pain for Ms Hardy's family. Moreover, they have exacerbated a highly sensitive issue.
3   Pit Bull attacks are not a racial issue, Times Herald, December 13, 2015


Bullet grazes Michigan State Police dog as troopers stop pit bull attack
   December 15, 2015; MLive

Officials say dog attack is suicide
   December 10, 2015; Port Huron Daily Tribune

Michigan woman's mauling death from pit bulls' attack ruled a suicide
   December 10, 2015;

Family of woman killed in dog attack says it was not suicide
   December 9, 2015; Fox2 News

Mother mauled by dogs had history of suicide attempts
   December 9, 2015; Detroit Free Press

Woman subjected herself to dog attack
   December 9, 2015; Port Huron Times Herald

Fatal Pit Bull Attack Is 2nd This Week
   December 4, 2015; Deadline Detroit

Woman, 22, dies from pit bull attack after she was found in backyard of home with extensive injuries to her face and neck
   December 4, 2015; Daily Mail

‘They just ate him,’ mom says about dog attack on son
   December 4, 2015; Detroit News

North Huron grad dies from injuries after pit bull attack in Port Huron
   December 4, 2015; Huron Daily Tribune

Man attacked by his pit bull mix, had severe facial, head injuries
   November 28, 2015; MLive

Yorkie killed in dog attack, animal control officer threatened
  November 19, 2015; Fox 2 Detroit

City asked to reconsider eliminating breed-specific dog ordinance
   November 12, 2015; Hastings Banner

Sheriff: pit bull kills Yorkie
   November 11, 2015; Traverse City Record-Eagle

Dog fight ends with hound mix dead, man injured
   November 9, 2015; Hometown Life

Boy bitten by 2 pit bulls; Dogs reportedly got loose during fight
   November 6, 2015; The News Herald

Pit bull rehab: Former fighting dogs find homes in Detroit
   October 24, 2015; CBC News

Amid criticism, Detroit Animal Control makes effort to save more dogs' lives
   October 20, 2015; MLive

31 'pitbull-type' dogs seized, 276 charges pending in alleged dog-fighting ring
   October 14, 2015; CBC News

2-year-old boy bitten by pit bull in Detroit
   September 27, 2015; ClickonDetroit

Police remove pit bull after it bites owner, kills dog
   September 21, 2015; HomeTownLife

Girl requires plastic surgery, up to 75 stitches following pitbull attack
   September 16, 2015; Jackson Citizen-Patriot

Pit bull to be euthanized after attacking two dogs, killing one
   September 11, 2015; News Herald

Pit bull killed after attacking lawn service employee
   September 10, 2015; Lansing State Journal

(September 2, 2015; unreported attack on Alecia Finch covered on Sept 16)

Oakland County Sheriff’s Office: Pit bull seized after biting deputy in Pontiac
   August 31, 2015; Oakland Press News

Suspect's pit bull attacks Sheriff K-9 during arrest
   August 13, 2015; MLive

Parents speak out day after daughter is mauled by neighbor's dog
   August 8, 2015; Fox 2 Detroit WJBK

Girl, 9, bit by pitbull-type dog, Warren police say
   August 8, 2015; Detroit Free Press

9-year-old attacked by pit bull in Warren
   August 7, 2015; Fox 2 Detroit WJBK

Girl, 9, injured in pit bull attack
   August 7, 2015; Detroit News

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Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 32+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

Dog Bite Studies Index

Today's pit bull attacks
   Google News

This page may also include information from Dogsbite & Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

SRUV uses the definition of "pit bull" as found in the Omaha Municipal Code Section 6-163. As pit bulls are increasingly crossed with exotic mastiffs, Catahoula Leopard Dogs and other breeds, the vernacular definition of "pit bull" must be made even more inclusive.

Sources cited by news media sometimes refer to "Animal Advocates" or sometimes "Experts." In many cases these words are used to refer to single-purpose pit bull advocates who have never advocated for any other breeds or species of animals. Media would be more accurate to refer to these pit bull advocates as advocates of fighting breeds.

Similarly, in many cases pit bull advocates refer to themselves as "dog lovers" or "canine advocates" and media often accepts this usage. The majority of these pit bull advocates are single-purpose advocates of fighting breeds.