Woman Whose 2-Year-Old Cousin Was Tragically Killed by Family's Chained Dogs Urges Virginia Lawmakers to Pass H.B. 646
For Immediate Release:
January 25, 2018
David Perle 202-483-7382
Norfolk, Va. – Virginia resident Alice Conner—who made a public service announcement for PETA after her 2-year-old cousin Jonathan was fatally mauled in 2005 by two chained dogs in Suffolk—sent a letter today urging lawmakers to vote in favor of House Bill 646 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 872, which would make it illegal to tether dogs during a heat advisory or a severe weather warning and when temperatures are above 85 degrees or below freezing.
“It is too late for [Jonathan] and our family, but I feel that it’s now my obligation—not only as his cousin but as an expectant mother of a little boy—to prevent similar tragedies in the future,” writes Conner. “Feeling constantly trapped would drive anyone crazy. The dogs who killed Jonathan were his own family’s dogs—it didn’t make a difference that they knew who he was. They had gone mad from confinement and neglect.”
“Lack of exercise, companionship, and mental stimulation are just some of the reasons why tethered dogs are nearly three times more likely to attack humans than dogs who aren’t forced to live out their lives chained up,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA stands with Alice Conner in calling on lawmakers to support this long-overdue essential legislation, for humans’ and animals’ sake.”
Conner is available for phone interviews. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
Conner’s letter to the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate follows.
January 25, 2018
The Honorable Members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate
Dear Delegates and Senators:
My name is Alice Conner, and I live in Virginia Beach. In October 2005, two dogs who had spent most of their lives chained up outdoors attacked and killed my beloved 2-year-old cousin, Jonathan, in Suffolk, Virginia. Jonathan loved dogs. He had no idea how dangerous chained dogs could be. It is too late for him and our family, but I feel that it’s now my obligation—not only as his cousin but as an expectant mother of a little boy—to prevent similar tragedies in the future. House Bill 646 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 872, would help make Virginia safer for children and for animals, and I strongly urge you to support this life-saving legislation.
Chained dogs are a threat to the public. Since losing Jonathan, I’ve learned that his death was not an isolated incident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that chained dogs are nearly three times as likely as dogs who aren’t kept chained to attack human beings. Every year, many Americans are injured or killed by chained dogs, but even more incidents likely go unreported. Most victims are children like my little cousin, including a 3-year-old girl who was hospitalized following an attack by a chained dog in Waynesboro last April and a 5-year-old Page County boy who underwent an eight-hour surgery to repair injuries to his face after he was attacked by a neighbor’s chained dog less than a year earlier. In 2015, a 6-year-old girl, her aunt, and a 6-year-old boy were injured in two separate attacks by a dog who broke loose from his chain in Culpeper County. About 20 deputies, animal control officers, Virginia State Police officers, and local fire and rescue volunteers spent the rest of that day and the following morning searching for the dog; he was finally located and fatally shot when he aggressively charged at a deputy.
I am a dog lover. I share my home with a mixed-breed dog named Django, who lives indoors with me. He is part of my family, and I wouldn’t dream of chaining him up outside like an old bicycle. Dogs are social pack animals who need more than just food, water, and a doghouse (and for many chained dogs, even that is not necessarily a given); they thrive on interactions with humans and other dogs, exercise, praise, companionship, and simple pleasures like tummy rubs, ear scratches, and relaxing on the sofa snuggled up to their human.
So it’s no wonder that dogs who have none of the things they need and crave become frustrated, territorial, and dangerous—they can’t even escape or hide from a perceived threat! Feeling constantly trapped would drive anyone crazy. The dogs who killed Jonathan were his own family’s dogs—it didn’t make a difference that they knew who he was. They had gone mad from confinement and neglect.
I hope you will join me in supporting H.B. 646 and S.B. 872, for the health and safety of all Virginia residents. Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.