Johnna Harvard, a mother in Riverside, Alabama, lost her five-year-old son to a pit bull attack back in April 2014. This month, however, Harvard herself was also attacked by a pit bull — at her son’s grave site!
The boy, John Triton Harvard, was playing in the front yard with his 9-year-old brother when a pit bull that had been running through the neighborhood mauled him. John was declared dead when he arrived at the hospital.
As the family continues to grieve for their son, Harvard said she has been attacked twice while visiting her son’s grave in nearby Pell City. The dog charged at her and others, and she was able to get the attack on camera.
Harvard and other bystanders jumped into their vehicles and called 911. A responding officer from the Pell City Police Department had to discharge a firearm to subdue the animal, which died from the gunshot wound.
The dog’s owner was not reached for comment, but a neighbor told a local news station that the dog had never seemed aggressive before.
Harvard said that these animals are everywhere. “They are not being properly leashed and cared for,” she told reporters.
Pell City has a leash law, like many other areas, but it can only take a second for an animal to become aggressive, with or without a leash.
Over the past 16 years, dog bites have increased by 86 percent as a cause for hospital visits for bite victims, with up to 26 people a day rushed to the hospital for dog bites. These injuries can pose the most serious risk to young children and seniors.
However, pit bulls are an often misunderstood breed, and in fact, the label comprises several actual dog breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier, among others.
Pit bulls also get a bad reputation due to widespread myths, such as that they have “locking jaws” or are overly aggressive. But with an estimated 70 million total dogs living in households in the United States, there are plenty of things that owners can do to make sure that the dogs remain well behaved.
Training, for example, can be especially useful. All dogs also benefit from socialization with other animals and people.
Animals should also be kept on leashes or indoors if the owners are not around to supervise. Harvard would like to see stronger leash laws and regulations for these types of dogs, especially, but all dogs should be kept on leashes when outside.
“We need to do something on a state level because that was the closest I’ve ever felt to death and I had that fear of being chased by an animal,” Harvard told reporters. “I felt like I felt what my son felt and no one should feel that way.”