Pit Bulls: 2 Attacks on Same Day in Lafayette, IN, Do Not Surprise Dog-Bite Expert

| by Denise A Justin

A Pit Bull, dubbed Chewy, who attacked a 52-year-old man on November 12, is still at large in Lafayette, Indiana, according to Lt. Scott McCoy of the Lafayette Police Department. Authorities are perplexed by their inability to locate the dog because of the seriousness of the attack and, now, also because they have learned that this was the second attack by a loose Pit Bull that same day.

Police were called to the 3200 block of Pipers Glen Drive the night of Nov.12 for what was reported as “sounding like a domestic disturbance.” Instead they found it was a dog attack.

“We don’t know everything that happened,” said Lt. McCoy, but the police do know that the man was seriously injured, and had to have surgery on his arm. “As far as I know, he’s OK in that he’s recovering. The bite wounds were pretty vicious.”

Originally, two dogs were accused of carrying out the attack. One was retrieved and taken to Almost Home Humane Society, McCoy said, but an investigation revealed that it did not attack the man. Officials now believe this was a less aggressive dog that was biting the attacking dog “in the rear in an effort to sidetrack it,” said Josh Klumpe, Lafayette animal control supervisor,

The confusion is because--unbeknownst at that time—the attack on the 52-year-old man (whose identify is being withheld for his protection) was the second Pit Bull attack in 24 hours.

The first attack occurred on Logan Avenue about 10:30 a.m. that day, when Felicia Trembath found a collarless pit bull on her back porch. She told, “I called animal control and gave him food to keep him around,”

Then, she and her mother, Sandy Cotton, put the dog in the bathroom to keep him from running into the busy street in front of the home, she said. But, later, Cotton went to check on him and he squeezed past her and out the bathroom door. The Pit Bull ran straight under a table where Trembath’s cat, Smokey, was sitting. “All of a sudden he latched onto the cat,” Trembath said.

She tried to get the cat out of the dog’s jaws but couldn’t, so Trembath said she jumped on the dog and grabbed its scruff so it would release its grip, that that didn’t work..

It was a frenzied, terrifying experience,” Trembath said. “No matter what we did, he did not let go.”

“I grew up on ranches,” her mother, Sandy Cotton said, “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Trembath is a PhD student at nearby Purdue University who has worked alongside Alan Beck, director of the Center of the Human-Animal Bond and who is also a Purdue professor of animal ecology. She knew she had to lever the dog’s mouth open. Although there is no exact account of what she did, the dog did finally let go of the cat. Trembath put the Pit Bull back outside and animal control arrived shortly afterwards to pick it up, she said.

Her beloved cat, Smokey, died a few days later. Trembath and Cotton suffered injuries; From just the relatively short scrimmage with the Pit Bull, Trembath had several lacerations on her hands with one deeper gash. Cotton had one deep gash with two loose stitches and five puncture wounds, according to

Alan Beck commented, “All studies have shown Pit Bulls, through quasi-objective measures, are more aggressive” in comparison to other dogs.”

“People have been breeding these dogs for fighting since the early 1880's,” he said, by focusing on morphological features keen for fighting. These traits include a solid stature, short hair and a large jaw for clamping down and shaking.

Pit Bulls also have, “A low threshold for attack and a high threshold for pain,” Beck told

“And the most effectual biter,” Animal Control supervisor John Klumpe added, “is an unaltered male, regardless of breed.”

Beck confirmed one of the most alarming aspects that emerged from Trembath’s experience-- which was the unexpected nature of the attack.

“He was super friendly and acted like a puppy,” Trembath said. After the attack, she said the dog returned to a happy-go-lucky demeanor. Beck warned, while as a scientist the trait is fascinating, it’s something people need to be aware of when dealing with Pit Bulls.

“Most people, when they really think about it, know when a dog needs issues addressed,” said Beck. That means it’s clear when dogs offer snarls or raised hackles as a warning to their opponents that they are angry. “Pit Bulls go from 0 to 100 and then back to 0.”

“All the wrong people want them for the wrong reasons and the right people don’t want them because of the stigma attached to them,” Klumpe said.

Source: JC Online