Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tragedy in Waxhaw

I'm sure most of you have heard by now about the horrible tragedy that occurred earlier today in Waxhaw. Five-year old Makayla Woodard was killed by two dogs owned by neighbor Michael Gordon; the dogs apparently were able to escape their confinement.

Per a WCNC article:
WAXHAW, N.C. -- Waxhaw police say charges are pending against the owner of two pit bulls that attacked a 5-year-old girl and grandmother, killing the girl.

The attack happened at about 11 a.m. Wednesday at a home on Rehobeth Avenue behind the Captain's Galley restaurant.


Police said the dogs belonged to someone in the neighborhood and wandered into the victims' yard. It was not immediately known how the dogs got loose, but police said charges were pending against the dogs' owner.
Makayla's grandmother, Nancy Presson, who tried to save Makayla, was seriously injured in the attacked, but is expected to recover.

The attack occurred around the following location. I've seen varying reports that it occurred at Makayla's house and others that said it occurred at Michael Gordon's house. Either way, the attack occurred around this vicinity, right down the street from the Captain's Galley restaurant:

Location of Dog Mauling in Waxhaw

And this tragedy hits particularly close to home. My neighborhood is close by and my wife saw a news report earlier today where a homeowner in my neighborhood could hear the screams during the attack and called 911. I left for work a mere 15 minutes before the attack; with school out, kids were already out and about.

Police went door-to-door through the neighborhood after the attack, but before the second dog was put down. The flyer they distributed described it as a "Rottweiler mix," but I chalk that up to the fog immediately after the attack considering all news reports I've seen describe the attacking dogs as pitbulls.

Dog warning

Makayla rode the bus to school with my oldest, so she was not unknown to the neighborhood kids. That's a tough lesson for elementary school kids to learn at such a young age.

Here's WBTV's evening report for those interested.

I also watched the WSOC and WBTV reports tonight on the evening news and was struck by a couple things:

1) Apparently Makayla's mother defended the dogs' viciousness (or lack thereof) off-camera to WBTV. Assumign it's accurate, I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with this, since a dog's behavior can change quickly. (When I was a child, our aging dog bit a young girl my mother was babysitting out of the blue, having never exhibited this kind of behavior before. My parents in short order put him down despite our pleas to give him another chance.) But it is a little surprising to hear from a mother so soon after the attack.

2) A number of reports are stating that Waxhaw has no animal control officer. While this is true, I'm quite certain that around the time we moved to town in late 2005, there was in fact an animal control officer in Waxhaw. Around that time, I believe this position was removed, my vague recollection (let me stress vague) being that it was a cost-cutting measure. Anyone have any insight into this?

One final thought: I've already seen in article comments and Facebook threads the calls to ban certain breeds of dogs. As a former owner of one of the friendliest Dobermans you'd ever meet, I don't particularly like to see knee-jerk reactions like this. In my humble layman's opinion, it's the classic nature vs. nurture debate, with the latter having far more influence on a dog's personality than the former.

1 comment:

Ray said...

Such a horrific tragedy. I have 2 young children and the thought of ANYTHING happening to them scares the @#$!@# out of me.

This was a preventable action. I hope charges are brought against MICHAEL GORDON. He belongs in jail for letting this happen to sweet little Makayla. RIP Makayla.