A 45-year-old Barstow woman is dead after being attacked by a pack of pit-bulls on the street on Christmas evening. According to a news article in the Desert Dispatch, the dogs (officials are still trying to determine how many) surrounded Caldwell and attacked her.
Police found Caldwell lying on the street around 9:30 p.m. Two of the pit-bulls that reportedly returned to the scene tried to attack officers who were trying to help Caldwell and determine what happened. Police shot both pit-bulls. Animal control officials took two other dogs, while another one is said to be at large.
Officials are still trying to determine who the dogs belonged to although they know at least two of the animals belonged to neighbors. They have also taken DNA samples from the two dead dogs, which confirm that they attacked the woman, an article posted on the local ABC station’s Web site reports. The two live dogs are being held as evidence, but will be released to their owners if it is determined that they did not attack Caldwell.
Police detectives are looking into whether the dogs’ owners knew whether the animals had any history of violence. If the dogs were dangerous and the owners knew about it, they could face criminal charges, officials told ABC. No arrests were made immediately, FOX News reports.
Barstow officials tell the Desert Dispatch that dog attacks resulting in someone’s death is a rare occurrence in the Barstow area. They say attacks by German Shepherds and other mixes are most common, but that attacks by pit-bulls or pit-bull mixes are the “most severe”. They tend to cause the most damage and most injuries to victims because they “have a strong bite,” officials told the newspaper.
This is also the first time in the area that an adult has been mauled to death by dogs. In 2000, two pit-bull mixes killed Cash Carson, a 10-year-old Newberry Springs boy, when he was playing on the street with his friend. In that case, murder and manslaughter charges were filed against James Chiavetta, owner of the three dogs that killed the boy. Chiavetta was convicted and sentenced to four years in state prison. The district attorney’s office says they will wait for the investigation – including autopsy, DNA and pathology reports — to wrap up before deciding whether to file charges. If you have information about this attack, call WeTip anonymously at 1-800-78-CRIME.
What a horrible tragedy for the family of the woman who was mauled to death! As officials say, there are questions that need to be answered. Who owned these dogs? Why were they let lose on the street? Did someone set these dogs out to attack Caldwell? Did these dogs already have a history of attacking people or other pets? And did their owners already know about it? If they did, they must be held responsible and should face not only murder charges, but must be held financially liable in the wrongful death of Kelly Caldwell.
It’s about time we held irresponsible and negligent dog owners responsible for their actions. Although other breeds of dogs have been known to attack, it is a well-known fact that pit-bulls and Rottweilers are notorious for attacking without provocation. These breeds of dogs have also been the most involved in dog bite-related fatalities.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, between 1979 and 1996, pit-bulls were responsible for 60 fatalities, the highest among all dog breeds. Rottweilers were the second most dangerous dog breed with their involvement in 29 deaths. German Shepherds were third and the Husky and Alaskan malamute took fourth and fifth positions respectively.
This story serves as a reminder too that it’s not just toddlers or children who are the victims of vicious dogs. Pit-bull and Rottweiler owners continue to remain in denial despite what the facts clearly show. In many cases, we’ve seen that letting your child play with one of these dogs is like letting your little one play with a loaded gun! It’s dangerous, unnecessary and absolutely preventable. In this case, it cost one, precious life.
All dog owners must take responsibility for their pets. The least they can do is keep their pets restrained so they don’t become a public menace or a danger to society. It’s their responsibility to the community. Anyone who breaches that responsibility must be held accountable and face the consequences of their actions.