Family is Raising Money to Cover Funeral Costs
Three dogs mauled a 9-year-old to death on Detroit’s west side earlier this week. In a tragic and devastating event, Emma Valentina Hernandez was riding her bike when she was attacked by three pit bulls in an alley, only a few yards away from her family home. Neighbors and witnesses tried to stop the attack by throwing bricks and shooting at the dogs, but Emma was pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital.
Young Emma was set to start 4th grade in a few weeks. This tragedy is beyond words and my heart and prayers go out to her family and friends. I can’t even imagine what they are going through right now. A Go Fund Me page has been set up by the family.
The entire story just makes my heart sink. And after having worked on countless Detroit dog bite and dog attack cases over the years, I re-live the trauma my clients have gone through following an unprovoked and needless attack by a vicious dog. Far too often, dog owners allow their dogs to roam around neighborhoods, not leashed or chained to anything.
In the case involving Emma, it appears the three pit bulls were walking down the alley, unattended by the owner or anyone. It is not known where the dog owner was located at the time of the attack. It’s been my experience that in most situations, the dog owner is inside his or her home, completely oblivious to what their animals are up to. I’d bet the dog owner in this case was in his home, and either left a door wide open allowing the dogs to roam or blatantly let the dogs out of the house unattended.
The dog owner has been arrested by Detroit police and the dogs were shot or seized by officers after having obtained a court order.
Dogs are an incredible pet and there is a reason we have deemed them “man’s best friend.” But they are also a great responsibility. It is vital dog owners ensure their dogs are properly leashed or attached to a stationary object when left unattended outside, well away from pedestrians and other people. During walks, dogs must be on a leash per Michigan law – MCL 287.262. Failure to do so can lead to fines and civil damages if a dog attacks a person.
In addition, under MCL 287.351, in an unprovoked attack, a dog owner is liable for any personal injuries sustained by a dog bite victim. This law provides strict liability on the part of the dog owner, meaning proving negligence on the part of the dog owner is not even necessary.
Again, my prayers go out to the family of Emma Hernandez. I hope they can somehow find peace and some sort of tranquility moving forward. I also hope at least one person learns something from this tragedy, and watches his or her dog more closely to prevent something like this from happening yet again.