Sun, May

Two ‘Rescuers’ Die From Violent Pit Bull Attacks – One Child Mauled, Five Orphaned 


ANIMAL WATCH - Two dog lovers on different continents, both parents of minor children, were called “heroes” by some when both died within one week from unrelated violent attacks by Pit Bull-type dogs they rescued and thought they could “save.”  

In one case a 4-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister lost their mother. The boy undoubtedly will always suffer from the massive injury to his leg and the psychological trauma he sustained during a savage mauling by the family’s Pit Bull. 

In the second attack, five boys from 10 to 18 years of age were orphaned by their father’s death. 

Anti-BSL activists said kennel-owner Alan Watts would take any last-chance dog and work with it to give it another chance to stay alive. But a violent “bulldog-type” dog (the politically correct description of a “Pit Bull”) used that last chance to kill him. 

In both cases, the dogs had known histories of aggression. 

Wisconsin Mother Dies After Saving Son from Pit Bull Attack 

Relatives of a Wisconsin woman say she died from injuries suffered while saving her 4-year-old son from an attack by the family’s Pit Bull. She also reportedly left behind a 5-year-old daughter who was not involved in this incident. 

Heather Pingel, 35, died on December 17, after an attack by the dog, which occurred on December 8 in the family’s Bowler, Wisconsin, home. 

She was lauded as a “hero” by some because the attack appeared to result from her pulling the vicious dog into a bathroom to stop it from mauling the boy.  Both suffered extensive injuries.  

The child, Damion Bernarde, required 70 stitches to close the wounds in his leg where the dog launched its attack. He is now at home recovering. 

The exact reason for the attack on the boy is unknown, but family members speculate that the boy may have fallen down some nearby stairs and started crying and that provoked the dog to attack because it was known to be  “skittish” around loud noises, according to the Herald. 

“We don’t know how long she was in there fighting him off,” her sister told the media.  

“Shane Bernarde, the boy’s father got home to find her bleeding profusely and lying on the bathroom floor where she had drug the Pit Bull to keep the dog from resuming its attack on her son. Heather told him, ‘I have no arms and I’m dying.’” 

Other family members reported the animal had a history of violence. Heather’s aunt told police it had been beaten by a previous owner when it was younger, and the family had taken it in and cared for it,” according to TooFab.com. “The dog had even attacked Shane, the boy’s father, a few years previous, causing significant injuries to his forearm,” she said. 

A Shawano County sheriff’s report states that when Damion’s father, Shane Bernarde, returned home that afternoon, he found the family’s Pit Bull attacking Heather in the bathroom, the Wausau Daily Herald reported. 

After locating their son in the living room, Bernarde grabbed the dog, pulling it outside and fatally shot it. The father was bitten by the dog in the struggle. 

Shannon Pingel says her sister suffered kidney failure and both of her arms were amputated, among other injuries. 

“She is the bravest, strongest mother I know to do that for her child; she risked her life to save him,” her sister Shannon told reporters. “She is a hero.” 

However, others question the wisdom of a mother who would keep a Pit Bull who was “skittish around noises” and had a history of aggression and attack—with children.

Ultimately, the dog repeated its innate behavior and was killed to stop its attacks, a mother is dead, and a father is left with horrific memories and to raise two small children alone. 

“My sister has the biggest heart for animals and just couldn’t get rid of it ... her heart was too big and they thought they could fix him,” Shannon told the Herald. 

Widowed father of five killed in attack by “large bulldog-type dog” 

In the second death, Adam Watts, 55, the father of five boys, died following an attack by a violent “large bulldog-type dog” brought by the police to his Juniper Kennels and Cattery in Auchterhouse, near Dundee, Scotland. 

The father was the sole support of the children, aged from 10 to 18, and they are now considered “orphaned.” 

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland told Mail Online: ‘Officers received report of a man having been attacked by a dog in Kirkton of Auchterhouse around 1.10 pm on Wednesday, December 22.” 

Police raced to the kennel but Adam Watts was pronounced dead at the scene, at his kennel. 

Police have said there are not thought to be any suspicious circumstances and no details on the attack have been released. 

Adam Watts Tribute Shared by Anti-BSL (Breed-Specific Legislation) Group 

A tribute was shared on the Facebook page of a group called, “‘Save Our Seized Dogs - Putting BSL to sleep in the UK,”’ along with a photograph of 55-year-old Adam Watts; under a prominent post “HOW TO IDENTIFY A PIT BULL TYPE DOG.”  

“Save Our Seized Dogs” also launched a Crowdfunder to help Adam’s family.

The group describes itself as “dedicated to assisting owners whose pets are seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991,” and said Mr. Watts also helped police in Dundee by taking in all animals. 

“Adam would take any dog to give them the chance of life and was the kennel of choice for the police in Dundee,” the group wrote on their  Facebook page, according to the Daily Express. 

“His gentle, calm nature soon gained the trust of some of the most abused dogs and they were able to go from him to find loving homes,” the group wrote. 

It was believed that his eldest son, who worked with him at the kennel, witnessed the attack. 

According to the Evening Telegraph, Mr. Watts’ wife Eileen died of stomach cancer in 2013 at the age of 46 and was the mother of the five boys, whose ages range from 10 to 18.  He was their sole means of support. 


Barbara Oakley is the author of the book, “Cold-Blooded Kindness,” which reflects on ‘killing with kindness’ and other aspects of compassion that is out of control or where control over another (human or animal) becomes more important than protecting ourselves—or, in some cases, considering children that might be hurt. 

Her summary asks these important questions, which must be considered in today’s world of maniacal “saving.”  

Are some people naturally too caring? Is caring sometimes a mask for darker motives? Can science help us understand how our concerns for others can hurt everything we hold dear? Is kindness always the right answer? Is kindness always what it seems? 

In her definition—provided in editing the book, “Pathological Altruism,” she defines it as, "altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.” 

Is that what is causing people to take such risks with animals that severely injure, maim or kill them?  Are they blinded to the danger by an exaggerated, misplaced or—perhaps ‘misinformed’—sense of compassion?  

How much is this influenced by the pressure of the major multi-billion-dollar“humane” groups that flood the media with expensive ads and convince those who read their histories that dogs that kill (or have attacked) are just “misunderstood,” have been abused, and are actually Nanny Dogs waiting for the right person to 'save' them? Yet, when kept in a family that loves it, the dog unpredictably reverts to innate violent behavior. 

How can ‘rescuers’--and those around them--be protected from themselves?  


(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a contributor to CityWatch and a former Los Angeles City employee.)