Death by Pit Bull or Infection – Both Are Foreseeable – USA Deaths #8 and #9

In the past two weeks, a woman died from infection caused by a dog bite, and an infant was mauled by death by a pit bull. The public needs to learn that while both of these incidents were unlikely, they both were foreseeable and preventable. 

The infection:

Dolly Newell, an 80-year-old California woman, died on March 24, 2009, several days after she was bitten in the hand by a dog while feeding it. For some reason, she told the hospital staff she injured her finger while gardening. They stitched the bite closed and she went home, to die of infection. 

Ms. Newell contributed to her own death because she was feeding a strange dog, lied to the hospital staff about her injury, and did not obtain follow-up care for the infection. Nevertheless, her death was initiated by the bacteria in dog saliva, and therefore she was killed by a dog even though she contributed to the accident.

All dog bites that break the skin should be seen by a doctor because of the danger of infection. Forget about protecting the dog or its owner. Doctors generally know that dog bites should be left open, unstitched, because this bacteria thrives in the airless dark. 

The fatal mauling of the infant:

On March 26, 2009, a 2-year-old Texas boy was fatally attacked by a female pit bull. His parents had been caring for the dog and apparently thought it to be harmless. The boy’s first name was Tyson but his last name and important details about the attack have not been released. 

For some reason, details about the death of little Tyson are being withheld from the public. (See the poor coverage at KVUE and KEYETV, and note that the deficiencies probably are the fault of law enforcement and not KVUE or KEYETV.) For example, the name of the dog owner is being suppressed, preventing witnesses from coming forward with information that might justify criminal prosecution or a civil suit. Texas has Lilian’s Law, which is the harshest criminal statute in the nation pertaining to dog owners. (See the Texas page of Dog Bite Law.)

No less than three, and possibly four, danger signs were present in the attack upon Tyson: (1) dog in its own yard and no master present, (2) pit bull, (3) chained or tethered, and possibly (4) newness, in that the dog was there on a temporary basis. (See the Dog Attack Danger Scale.) This made the attack foreseeable.