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Dog attack

87-year-old Frederick man dies after being attacked by family's pit bull

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Eugene "Smitty" Smith is seen here in this file photo from January 2013. At the time, Smith had driven an 18-wheel milk truck for 56 years picking up milk from area farms and delivering to a number of creameries.

Staff file photo by Bill Green

The death of a Frederick man who was attacked by a dog and later died from his injuries Wednesday is being investigated by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, according to a news release.

Eugene Wesley Smith, 87, died from severe injuries to the head and left arm after the family dog, an 84-pound pit bull, attacked him at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Deputy First Class Amanda Hatcher, sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

Smith was taking down a Christmas tree at his home when the dog attacked him, the release states.

When sheriff’s deputies, Frederick police officers and Frederick County Animal Control arrived at the Stonehouse Road residence, the dog was still attacking Smith. Animal Control officers put a lead on the dog and contained it, Hatcher said.

First responders took Smith to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where he later died from his injuries, Hatcher said.

Maryland State Police Trooper 3 was initially called to the scene but was not used, according to a Frederick County Emergency Communications official.

Capt. Kevin Fox, spokesman for the Division of Fire and Rescue Services, said he did not know why the helicopter was not used. But in some cases Trooper 3 is not used to transport a patient with severe injuries because of a change in the person’s condition, he said.

Frederick County animal bite data

Frederick County animal bite data

Source: Frederick County

Year Dog bites only Total bite reports
2009 374 576
2010 397 562
2011 389 549
2012 404 620
2013 435 701
2014 462 718

Source: Frederick County Animal Control

“For really bad calls as far as trauma, if a patient worsens to the point where there’s a need for (paramedics to open) an airway or cardiac arrest, they immediately go to the closest hospital,” Fox said.

Animal Control officers removed the dog, which was later euthanized, the release states. An Animal Control officer said she could not comment on the protocol for euthanizing animals, saying that each case varies. 

The dog, a pit bull rescue, lived with Smith and his son and son’s fiancee since May, the release states.

Hatcher said she did not know of any prior calls the sheriff’s office received to the Stonehouse Road residence for the dog.

Follow Paige Jones on Twitter: @paigeleejones.

Paige Jones covers business and biotech in Frederick County. She started at the paper in 2014 as a nighttime crime reporter before switching to business. A Kansas transplant in Maryland, she enjoys exploring the East Coast in her free time.

(43) comments


Shiftless-- where does it say those statistics pertain to pitbulls only? Those are dog bites for the county, not pitbull bites for the county, out of total number of animal bites.


He was a really nice guy. He will truly be missed.


Instead of focusing on what breed of dog, how about give condolences to the loss of a life. It doesn't matter what breed!! Have compassion for human life as much as the compassion for the dog breed..


Heather love your true statements! B1sellers your right on cue too. I wont own any othe dog but a pit. As a matter of fact i have 3 and they are big teddy bears. Love them. Dont even care to listen to the haters.


This is a very sad story and my condolences to the family who must be distraught. We rescue dogs. I have dealt with two "local" (one Maryland and one Virginia) rescues and we let them know in advance that, because our grandchildren visit and because children on the street play in our yard, we did not want a dog with any known pit. Prejudice to some, I know, but we were asked to do this by our adult children to protect our grandchildren - their wish; and we wanted to comply. The first rescue worked with us, did a home visit, and we were 24 hours from adopting a dog when I found, by simple search of the previous owner's Facebook page, that the dog was a mix of pit. We backed out, and were treated rudely by the rescue. Thankfully we found a great match from a second rescue. They listened to what we wanted and made the best match. We've had our rescue dog since March 2014 and are working with them for a second. ( I guess my message is, don't allow yourself to be pressured into accepting a match that is not right for you and your family. There are so many dogs needing homes, pit bulls included, that the right dog is surely available.


Wow, so many comments on here are just sickening, purely false statistics and/or just uneducated opinions spread by fear based media. The first one I'm going to shut down is the "pit bulls were bred to fight". WRONG. Pit bulls, not a breed of dog, but a term used to describe 3, sometimes 4 breeds, are bred from the molossor blood line, as are boxers, bull dogs, and even boston terriers, and were bred to bait bulls and hunt along with their close relatives. It wasn't until much later that humans began fighting them. And why, do you ask, were they chosen amongst other dog breeds for the dog of choice for fighters? They showed more resilience than their smaller ancestors. They were smaller than the american bulldog, allowing for easier handling. They have more muscle tone in a smaller package, and less hair to grab onto, than the german shepherd, rottweiler, or hound breeds. And the number one reason? They were bred to be loyal to their humans "to a t", which put them above the boxer in a fighter's eyes. The fighters wanted a dog that had muscle in a small package. They wanted to be able to dock ears and crop tails without "damaging" the dog, and they wanted a dog that would not bite them when putting them in and out of the ring, a dog they could train to do anything, regardless of what it was, a dog that would listen to their every command. One of the pit bull breed's greatest qualities, is also their biggest downfall: they are the most loyal dogs out there. Yes, there are exceptions to this trait. Just like not all labs like the water, not all chiuaua will bark upon a stranger entering into their home, not all german shepherds can be trained as personal protection dogs, and not all golden retrievers, poodles, beagles or huskys are great family dogs. The thing about this is, if this particular pit bull was one of these breeds, this story would not have made headlines. If it did, it would not be on the front page. If it did, "pit bull" would be replaced with "the family dog", not "golden" "lab" or "poodle". If it did, you would be commenting, "oh how sad, something must have been wrong with that dog", not "that is a horrible breed, they are all just like that, i don't trust them, there should be ordinances, etc.". Did you know that, when a dog cannot be identified at the time of an attack, he/she is documented at a "pit bull dog"? Or that if an american staffordshire terrier, american pit bull terrier, staffordshire terrier, and often times even a bull terrier, the actual predominant "pitbull" breeds of dog, bite someone, they are also recorded as a "pit bull/pit bull mixed breed"? Did you know that not only has the CDC, ASPCA, HSUS, and many local communities that have tried breed bans (and then later repealed them, jn turn making laws against imposing breed bans!) have stated that dog bite information is skewed, unreliable and even completely false at times, but as has the white house, in a statement signed by our president of the untied states, Obama? Did you know that the following common myths as stated,:
1.Pit bulls have locking jaws.
2. All pit bulls were bred to fight
3. Pit bulls have a birth defect that makes their brains switch at some point in their life and turn on their owners.
4. Pit bulls hate children.
5 Pit bull cannot live with other animals
Pit bulls do not "maul people to death out of nowhere, randomly" any more than any other breed of dog does. The sole and only reason you only hear about them doing so, is because when another breed of dog does this to anyone, the story does not make headlines. There are no laws stating that the dog has to be DNA tested before reporting. A number of these attacks you hear about, were not even pit bull dogs, but were reported as such. With this particular story, my bet is that the dog went for the tree, and then was confused when the man fought him back, thinking he was being protective of his family pack. I am sorry to this man, and to his family, for what happened to him. But you people disgust me. Do all black people rob stores? Are all white males in their 20s heroin addicts? Do all wealthy men and women chest on their husbands? No. Those are all stereotypes, that only gained as much attention as they did, because of our media, and the general publics obsession with believing just about all of it.


Thank you Heather. The worst problem with a Pit Bull is they are their own worst enemy. Like you stated they will do whatever their owner asks of them. They are the most loyal dogs.

"The Pit Bull Placebo, The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression" by Karen Delise backs up your statements of the false reporting of bites by Pit Bulls.

Closed minded people will never change though. Sad for this wonderful dog.

I am sorry for what happened as well - but don't malign the entire breed and spread the lies told about them. They do not turn on their owners - in fact, they rank higher in good temperament than labs. They are in fact at the top of the list in temperament.


Why is it that someone can't point out the obvious, that pit bulls can be dangerous, without people jumping in and claiming it's all a misunderstanding and they are all wonderful dogs. I have known some great pit bulls but again, this dog in this story attacked a person in his own home who was taking down the christmas tree. I don't know what led to this but I can tell you that you will NEVER read a story about an 87 year old man killed by a Shih Tzu in his own home. Look at statistics listed below; they make up an inordinate amount of the attacks that result in serious injury or death. Does that mean that all or even most are bad? No, of course not. But to pretend the statistics (and this story) are all some big misunderstanding does more harm to an honest discussion and more harm to their reputation (because then no one will take YOU seriously). I understand that dogs reflect their owners, by and large. Training is everything. Yada yada. But the fact still remains that they are strong and determined so when agitated they can be very dangerous. It's a simple fact, no judgement.


I do not "pretend the statistics (and this story) are all some big misunderstanding" but I also do my own research. I do not accept at face value every thing I read - and I know statistics can be distorted to mean what ever you want them to mean.

Read "The Pit Bull Placebo, The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression" by Karen Delise

And I have never said "it's all a misunderstanding and they are all wonderful dogs". But I will defend them because there are a lot of lies said about them. For the most part they are wonderful dogs - but they are dogs and sometimes something goes wrong. But the lies - they turn on their owners, their jaws lock, they are an unpredictable breed, etc... - LIES

Most of the problem is on the other end of the leash.
I am very sorry for this man and his family - truly a tragic thing. But I will defend this breed. They are great dogs.


During the 1970s decade, the terrier known as the Pitbull was a skillful ratter and topped out at about 35 pounds. That we have arrived at something weighing 84 lbs makes their bastardization obvious. The rise in the height and mass of the Pitbull is not commensurate with any simultaneous growth in the size of rats. It does, however, enable them to take each other down handily in staged dog fighting. The people you see putting tethered "bait" in trees for training the lunge and the hang, that bait suspended 8 to 9 feet above ground, are not after the 8-ft. rat. You decide. (And this comes from someone who has rescued, and who sat as a legislative liaison to the AKC to fight breed-specific legislation in the past.)


"First of all I am outraged that the ONLY time you hear of dogs attacking or killing its always a pit bull.".........doesn't that tell you something? Herd dogs herd instinctively. Retrievers retrieve. Hounds track. Even if they've never been formally trained to. Pit Bulls were bred to fight and kill. Their insincts can't be trained or bred out of them.


A five-year (2001–05) review of dog attack victims admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia determined that pit bull terriers were implicated in more than half of the bites where breed was identified. Of the 269 patients where breed was identified, 137 (51%) were attacked by pit bulls.[ The authors wrote:

…the overwhelming number of bites involving pit bull terriers in this study and others certainly has some degree of validity when it comes to identifying bite-prone breeds. Pit bull terriers, German shepherds, and Rottweilers were the offending breeds implicated in our study, and have accounted for the majority of dog bites according to other investigators.

A review of the medical literature found that pit bulls and pit bull cross-breeds were involved in 42–45% of dog attacks.Fatalities were most often reported when children were attacked, with 70% of victims being under the age of 10.

At my house, if you're a stranger our dogs (not pit bulls) will love you up in the daylight, but eat you up after dark. Perfect.


obviously another dog off its leash and this poor soul is dead because of their irresponsibility...there needs to be jail time for the perp(s)


Sounds like one of the "perps" is already dead.

Own goal.


I am from NJ and I know reading comprehension was something we were tested on as children. It was their family dog, in their own house and had nothing to do with leashing...


As terrorists go it's the muslim terrorists that kill the most.


Some idiots have lions as pets and other wilder animals. Very sad for the rescuer of the dog.BFSELLERS he is dead,not stupid as we read , death by the dog U have your choice.Pit bulls make great guard dogs I've read.German shepards great guard dogs too.Dog bites are numerious as we know.Safe dog??


Sad story, my heart goes out to the family. As a pit mix owner these type of incidents always weight heavily with me. Pits are great dogs but like many other breeds need to be properly trained. I hope people will keep in mind that rare incidents like this should not color their view against the millions of pits out there who are wonderful, loving dogs.


I agree.


So what about the owners who really are clueless about how to train their excitable 6 month old rescue pit bull? My neighbors are nice people but they are not training the dog and he is getting really big now to be running around ignoring commands, jumping the fence getting loose and chasing people. A very nervous and excitable large puppy now....


I would start with having a conversation with your neighbors about your concerns. If that doesnt help reach out to a local rescue and see if you can get some advice/help with approaching your neighbors. Yes this puts the work on you, but in the end if their dog gets properly trained, the time spend on this is worth it. You could be saving the dog's life and possibly preventing injuries to others.


*Concerning* when any potentially large dog isn't being trained to understand his position in the "pack" and what proper behavior is. Many prefer to lead, that's their natural choice, and if a leader doesn't step forward with them, they assume they're it. You don't want a dog as the CEO of your neighborhood.


First of all I am outraged that the only time you hear of dogs attacking or killing its always a pit bull. Not all pits are mean. Other breeds are capable of the same thing. Other breeds do the same from time to time but god forbid they publish that. Pit bulls are a wonderful pet. I'm sorry to the family but I'm sure there is more to this, Dogs history or something. Don't hate. Any animal can have an aggressive side. I personally love pit bulls.


Yep any dog can kill or maim, but I can't remember the last time I read or heard "Golden Retriever kills man/woman/child". You can't honestly believe all news organizations are out to get pit bulls....well maybe you can.


You should read "The Pit Bull Placebo, The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression" by Karen Delise.

It might make you change your mind about the media and Pit Bulls.


It's not the level of agression, it's the potential for harm. A Shih Tzu just can't harm a person like a pit bull, no matter how aggressive they are. Face it, Pit Bulls were BRED to be aggressive and effective as attackers/defenders. There are plenty of good, well-trained pit bulls. That's great. But there are a lot of untrained ones and when they get aggressive they can do serious damage. These are facts. If you HAD to choose a dog to attack a person who was your enemy and trying to kill you, would you use a pit bull, a golden retriever, or a shih tzu?


The facts don't back up your assertions shiftless. Pit Bulls were not bred to be aggressive. Yes they are strong dogs and they will do anything to please their person. That's how the nasty people who hold dog fights get them to do it. It is not part of their nature at all. But you would know that if you did some research instead of believing what you read in the paper.

Oh, and kudos to the FNP for not including the requisite snarling pit bull picture with the story.


Well this dog must have thought his person wanted to be attacked while taking down the Christmas tree. That must have been a smart dog to have figured that out.


Sadly lots of media organizations have bought into the pit bull hysteria. Unfortunately most cannot distinguish dog breeds so anytime a non familiar dog attacks its considered pit bull type. So rarely do they post the good stories about pits serving as support dogs to our returning veterans that are suffering the effects of war, the pits that visit hospital and hospices to bring comfort to the sick and dying...etc.


mccourtneyg, you should read "The Pit Bull Placebo, The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression" by Karen Delise. It addresses what you said about distinguishing the breed of the dog. It also addresses the whole family pet turning on it's owner issue. But too many people have closed off their minds and don't let facts get in the way of their beliefs - I know people like that.


Any large dog has this potential. That is true.
I had a rescue part golden who grew up and showed signs of a fear biting tendency, making him unreliable, so I spent a couple years in weekly dog training classes with him. Years. I did this so that I could be sure I controlled him. Dynamics of the relationship are very important. He loved the training and was eventually the envy of anyone there with a dog to show. Mine could not be, but he could stand-stay motionless for six minutes and longer. He did it all. If my tiny terrier picked up the end of his leash, he heeled to a tiny dog. Very amusing. Dogs want a leader. It's not as critical to have one if it's the tiny bossy dog "in charge". Sorry it offends people when pit bulls are "maligned" except...this was actually a pit bull.


Rescuing shelter dogs that can be re-homed is admirable however never forget your dogs prey drive is paramount.


Keep in mind there is always history you don't know because forms can only hold so much, and there's no way to force complete disclosure anyway. Their fears and quirks reveal themselves over time and you can only guess at the source and deal with the behavior. No dog is 100% "move in ready" after an abandonment and adjustment times follow no schedule anyone can guarantee.


Pit bulls as pets are simply another method of natural selection. Stupid people have pits, and they die from it.


"Stupid people" label an entire breed or race off of the actions of a single incident/person.


This kind of response is why some people struggle to retain fondness for humans. Dogs show empathy.


Dogs are much better beings than people. They love with all their soul. Loyal to their pack to a fault. Dogs are gifts to the people who know to love them back.


Oh dear lord. My heart goes out to the victim and his loved ones. May he rest in peace.


Sorry to focus on training and dominance themes.
It's too tragic and disturbing to wonder what about the situation set this off. We are all taking down trees. It makes no sense except to a dog with some unknown reasoning process. It will chill pit bull rescues (again) and there seems no good solution for this despite well-intended people's best efforts. This was a dog lover willing to give one a second chance. God bless.


Let the hate and lies commence.....


And unfortunately it will.


Pit Bull again. While I know that it is unfair to judge all Pits on these kinds of incidence,the truth is they are so capable of terrible damage when they attack.
I know folks who have them and defend them,but the facts remain if they attack you're in big trouble. I have a 10 pound dog and if he goes psycho he can't do much. Statistically they are by far the cause of the most human fatalities and injuries.


Taken to FMH? No more comment on that. [angry]

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