Pit bull's young victim identified

NEW ALBANY – The 16-month-old victim of a pit bull attack was identified Friday as Destiny Marie Knox from Union County.
Her body was taken to Jackson for an autopsy while sheriff’s deputies investigated the killing, which occurred Thursday night when the child was attacked by a pit bull at her baby sitter’s mobile home.
“It’s devastating anytime you have the loss of a child. Especially in these circumstances, where the child was mutilated, it’s devastating,” said Sheriff’s Investigator Anthony Anderson.
The mauling took place in a mobile home park on County Road 87 in the Martintown community. According to investigators, the dog normally was kept chained near the house but had slipped out of its collar as family members were bringing in groceries and Destiny was on the floor nearby.
“The dog followed them inside the house,” said Chief Deputy Jimmy Whitten. “When they opened the door, the dog followed them inside the house.”
The dog quickly attacked the toddler, who was not left unattended as previously reported.
A 19-year-old man in the house tried to intervene by hitting and stabbing the animal, but when emergency responders arrived, the child was already dead.
Her identity was released Friday morning by Coroner Mark Golding.
Dog killed
Deputies shot the dog – reportedly one of five dogs, all pit bulls, that the baby sitter owned.
“When the deputies arrived, the dog had to be put down at the scene. The dog was acting vicious,” Whitten said.
Investigators found no signs that the dog had ever been mistreated.
“This dog was very healthy, very stout. It was well-kept, well-groomed,” Whitten said.
Investigator Roger Garner added, “It didn’t have telltale scars where stitches have been put in it, like they’ve been used for fighting.”
Neighbors said the woman’s dogs had always been kept restrained. One neighbor, who wouldn’t give his name, went so far as to say of the killer dog, “It wasn’t vicious.”
Holly Whaley, who also lives in the same mobile home park, never saw the dogs off their chains, but she feared them nevertheless.
“I walk around the area in morning times sometimes, but I’m too scared to walk down that way because them dogs are out there,” she said.
Calls for action
Whitten said Union County had not had a human fatality from dog attack in his memory, but he and fellow officers said vicious dogs are a frequent problem for area residents. While a county leash law wouldn’t have saved Destiny – because the attack was inside – it would deal with other problems, he said.
Anderson said he’d favor a ban on pit bull dogs and other vicious breeds.
“Every dog bite case I’ve worked at the hospital has involved a pit bull,” he said.
Garner said his experience has been similar.
“When I was at Tupelo and we had attacks by dogs, almost 100 percent of the time it was by a pit bull or some pit mix. It’s just the nature of the dog,” he said.
“I think something needs to be done,” Anderson said. “I think the people’s voices need to be heard so that this never occurs again.”
Whitten added, “I think the Legislature needs to look at this.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal