Horrific “Redirected Attack” Highlights Need To Reconsider the Meaning of “Dangerous Dog”

Two pit bulls bit a woman 62 times and ripped off part of a finger while she walked her own dog near her home in Florida on Tuesday afternoon.

Rose Ann Manzella, 42, said she heard the two pit bulls running up behind her and stepped between them when they started nipping at her dog. That’s when they began to attack her “and all she could do was yell for help,” an incident report stated.

She was bitten all over both hands and lost part of her right middle finger when one of them grabbed onto her hand, shaking, “and would not let go,” the report stated.

An attack upon a dog that turns into an attack upon a person can be referred to as a “redirected attack.” About a third of my cases involve redirected attacks. For that reason, I believe that a dog that has the tendency to attack other dogs should be classified as dangerous. Many “dangerous dog laws” are like that, but most are not. 

Furthermore, in civil cases it is often repeated that a dog’s propensity to attack other dogs and other animals is insufficient to inform its owner that it is a dangerous dog. There is nothing scientific about such judicial pronouncements. Indeed, there has never been a study of redirected attacks. In my view, knowing that a dog likes to attack other dogs is the same thing as knowing it will one day attack a person. Either the attack will be direct or, like this horrific pit bull attack this week, it will be a “redirected attack.”