Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pit bulls maul resident in ND town of Des Lacs

From Plains Daily

Ward County authorities are investigating a mauling by two pit bulls in a Des Lacs (duh-LAKHS') home.
Sheriff Vern Erck says the 46-year-old victim was flown to a Minot hospital with undisclosed injuries. He says a 2-year-old child who also was in the home was not injured.
Authorities took the dogs to a Minot veterinarian to be quarantined, examined and then euthanized.

Update November 19, 2010 6:47pm - The following article is by Kevin Boughton, KFYR:

Pit Bull Attack Update

The pair of Pit Bull dogs that attacked a woman in Des Lacs Thursday have been euthanized.

A 46 year old woman was baby sitting Jason Heppler’s 2 year old daughter Thursday morning when she was attacked by Heppler’s Pit Bulls. The victim was transported by helicopter to Trinity Hospital in Minot. The young girl was not harmed.

Increasing concerns in North Dakota regarding Pit Bulls have led to banning the breed in some cities, including Minot and Des Lacs.

Minot veterinarian Ron Thunshell believes Pit Bulls are unfairly targeted because any large breed of dog can hurt you.

“Pit Bulls, when they do bite, can be a very significant bite. That also holds true for any large breed dog. Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Labrador, all these breeds can bite,” Thunshell warns. “Ultimately it is the responsibility of the owner to make sure their dog doesn’t bite,” says Thunshell.

As of Friday evening the victim’s condition was unknown.


Update November 24, 2010 11:31am - The following article is from The Jamestown Sun:

ND woman mauled by dogs still in hospital

A woman mauled by two dogs in a Des Lacs home about a week ago remains hospitalized in Minot.
The Minot Daily News reports that the hospital is not releasing information on 46-year-old Lori Amsden's condition at the request of the family.
Authorities say Amsden was attacked by the dogs last Thursday while she was baby-sitting in another couple's home.
The Ward County Sheriff's Office says the dogs were pit bulls, but owner Anna Heppler says they were a mixed breed. The dogs were euthanized.
No charges have been filed in the case but county prosecutors are reviewing it.

Update January 15, 2010 3:51pm - The following article, dated November 19, 2010, is from KXMC:

Pitbulls and People

Authorities have released the name of the victim of yesterdays severe dog mauling in Des Lacs.

The Ward County Sheriff's Department says 46 year old Lori Amsden of Des Lacs was the baby sitter for the Hepplers.

She was at the home watching their two year old child.

According to details from last night's Des Lacs City Council meeting, the child woke up screaming from a nap and Amsden rushed into a room where the child was sleeping.

It was then she was attacked and mauled by the two Boxer Bull Terriers.

Amsden was found two hours later and flown by helicopter to a Hospital in Minot.

Her condition is still not being released.

Shaun Sipma has more on the details behind the Bull Terrier Breed and why many cities including Des Lacs and Minot have ordinances banning them.

They undoubtably have a rough reputation

Numerous documented maulings have the pitbull or dogs within the bull terrier breed behind it

Minot Police Chief Jeff Balentine says many cities locally and across the nation have identified the breed because of their genetics as a serious threat to public safety and have banned dogs from city limits.

(Jeff Balentine, Minot Police Chief) "The history of the dog itself, bread to be a fighting dog lends itself to ordinances the prohibit the breed from being in the city, then you count of the number of attacks and well publicized attacks on humans and other dogs and other animals.

Balentine says Minot's ban on pitbulls and closely related breeds like the Stafforshire, and bull terrier has been in place for more than 20 years

Des Lacs enacted theirs in 2006, however the two Boxer-Bull terriers were grandfathered in

The owners and even neighbors say these two dogs had never shown signs of aggression until Thursays mauling.

Balentine says that's a perfect example of the genetics behind these dogs and why so many communities have banned them.

(Jeff Balentine, Minot Police Chief) "This breed seems to have an aggressive nature about itself and it's been documented

(Vern Erck, Ward County Sheriff) "I guess I would encourage all of the communities now to take a look at their ordinances and see measure would best protect the public from another incident like this happening."

Ward County Sheriff Vern Erck says while any dog or animal is capable of attacking it, the breed in question here simply has a gene that's been proven to be extremely dangerous and at times leathal when one little incident sets off the dog, the way a screaming child triggered the two boxer bull terriers in the Hepplers home Thursday.

(Vern Erck, Ward County Sheriff) "It was nothing like I had ever seen in my law enforcement career.

In Minot, Shaun Sipma KX News.

The two dogs were taken to a local veterinary clinic and euthanized at the request of the owners.


Update January 15, 2011 3:56pm - The following article, dated November 24, 2010, is by Kim Fundingsland, Minot Daily News:

Dog attack victim remains in hospital

The woman attacked and severely mauled by two dogs at a Des Lacs residence last Thursday morning remains hospitalized at Trinity Hospital in Minot.
At the request of the family, the hospital is not releasing any official information regarding the victim's condition. However, a source close to the family has told The Minot Daily News the condition of 46-year-old Lori Amsden is "stable but guarded."
The attack is believed to have occurred approximately one hour prior to the discovery of Amsden by Cody Heppler at the Jason and Anna Heppler home, located at 140 Northeast Owen Street in Des Lacs. Cody Heppler, brother to Jason Heppler, arrived at the residence after getting off work. An emergency call from Cody Heppler was received shortly before 10 a.m. by the Ward County Sheriff's Department.
Ward County Sheriff Vern Erck said Amsden was "barely conscious" when first responders arrived. Amsden was transported by helicopter to Trinity Hospital, where she was treated for wounds to her head, neck, hands, feet and torso.
Amsden was in the home for the purpose of caring for the Heppler's 2-year-old daughter, something she had done often. According to Anna Heppler, she warned Amsden on the morning of the attack to "don't go into the kid's room" where the 2-year-old was sleeping and where the dogs were being kept.
"She felt comfortable enough that she ignored my warning," said Anna Heppler. "She made sure my daughter was not a part of it. She's an amazing woman. We are family and claim each other as family."
According to the Ward County Sheriff's Department, the two dogs, described in a sheriff's department release as pit bulls, were taken to the Minot Veterinary Clinic for quarantine, examination and disposal. Anna Heppler disputes the pit bull designation, saying the euthanized dogs were not a registered breed, but rather were boxer-bull terrier mix.
The Des Lacs City Ordinance regarding ownership of pit bulls defines pit bull dogs as No.1, the bull terrier breed; No. 2, the Staffordshire bull terrier; No. 3, the American pit bull terrier; No. 4, the American Staffordshire terrier; No. 5, a dog of mixed breed or of other breeds than above listed which breed or mixed breed is known as a pit bull dog or pit bull terrier; and No. 6, any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breed of bull terrier.
The ordinance, enacted in 2006, was modeled after and contains the same language as the City of Minot ordinance regarding the definition of "pit bull dogs."
According to a source familiar with the situation, aggression shown by the Hepplers' dogs was the reason the ordinance was adopted by the Des Lacs City Council. Because the ordinance was passed after the Hepplers arrived in Des Lacs, the dogs were "grandfathered in" and allowed to remain in the city under strict conditions delivered to the Hepplers. Following passage of the ordinance, the Hepplers were warned that the dogs had to stay on a leash and could never run loose in the community.
Anna Heppler told The Minot Daily News, "Nobody ever had a problem, never once. Our dogs were part of the community. After they were done, they laid by (Lori) and comforted her. That's not aggressive."
Information on the attack is being forwarded to the Ward County State's Attorney for review. No charges have been filed.
Within the City of Minot, complaints about pits bulls or pit bull breeds are turned over to Minot Police Department animal wardens. They determine whether a dog is suspicious enough in appearance to warrant further examination. If a dog owner disputes the determination, they must pay the cost of having the dog quarantined until a judge makes a final ruling.


  1. In the news again. I don't blame the breed any more than I'd blame a Mountain Lion for attacking. And, you shouldn't domestically own either.

  2. I own 2 pitbulls and i have a four year old daughter that loves them to death they are the best pets ever. not only that but the dogs that attcked the lady were BOXER-BULL TERRIERS.. which are nothing to a pitbull. So its all these questions .. did the lady speak harsher, raise a hand, or do something to make the dogs feel the baby was goin to be harmed.? and she also locked herself in the room with them.. red flags right there.. Please do not bash the pitbull breed just becuase ppl think they know everything.. If you have ever owned a pitbull you would really know how they truely are..

  3. I own 2 pitbulls and i have a four year old daughter that loves them to death they are the best pets ever. not only that but the dogs that attcked the lady were BOXER-BULL TERRIERS.. which are nothing to a pitbull. So its all these questions .. did the lady speak harsher, raise a hand, or do something to make the dogs feel the baby was goin to be harmed.? and she also locked herself in the room with them.. red flags right there.. Please do not bash the pitbull breed just becuase ppl think they know everything.. If you have ever owned a pitbull you would really know how they truely are..

  4. There was no aggression from Lori towards the dogs. There was no history of aggressive behavior from either of the pups. She locked herself in the room with them to protect the 2-year-old baby she was watching -- in plain English, she sacrificed herself for this child. Please do not assume you know anything about this situation until you fully investigate what is going on.

  5. Thank you for your comment.
    First, let me say that I hope that your wife -foremost-, you, and your family are progressing well from this unfortunate incident.
    Short of talking directly to the person, or persons, involved in an incident one can only surmise of a situation based on 'hearsay'. In this case, for me, that would mean relying on media reports.
    Based on them, I would conclude that there was 'perceived' aggression, on the part of the dogs, with the report of the child waking up screaming and your wife "rushing" into the room.
    I'm unclear whether or not the screaming was in any way related to the dogs themselves, but the reports state that the child was not injured. Were the dogs riled up prior to your wife entering the room?
    Another report states that the breed-specific ordinances in the town of Des Lacs were sought, in part, due to the behavior of these same dogs that attacked your wife.
    One report states that the dogs were in a bedroom with the child, and the owner "warned" your wife about going in the room.
    In the comments section of the report, a person claiming to be the owner stated that she didn't want your wife to enter the room because the dogs would get excited to see her and "jump" on her.
    From the reports, I gather that your wife has babysat numerous times for this child and was familiar with the dogs. I assume she has spent time with them in the past.
    I will assume as well that when you state that "there was no history of aggressive behavior from either of the pups", you do so based upon your wife telling you that she had never, prior, had a problem with the dogs. Therefore I find the owner's comments suspect, at best.
    In your comment, you also say that your wife locked herself in the room with the dogs in order to protect the child.
    I haven't seen that in any of the reports that I've read.

  6. There is a lot that is not being told about the heroism of my wife - and I am trying to be honest and unbiased about her actions. She was holding on to the baby AS she was being attacked - there was blood found on the front of the baby when they were discovered - so we know the baby was, in some way, part of the attack. We also know through the forensics at the scene (County sheriff did a full investigation just in case Lori did not make it, and for a while, it looked like she might not), there is no evidence of the baby until Lori managed to get into a room with a locking door -- there was remodeling ongoing, so most of the rooms in that hallway did not even have doorknobs.

    The first sign of the baby was prints on the wall and door as Lori pushed the child out of the room, AFTER she knew this was a serious attack, AFTER first blood was drawn, AFTER she had gone down at least once. She went for that room to try and gain sanctuary there; to try to protect herself and her charge; to try and get away from these previously friendly and loving family dogs.

    Physically, she is doing better, but is far from doing well. The dogs, in the frenzy of the attack, went after her hair, and in the process of pulling it out, removed most of her scalp also. She has gone through a skin graft. She has gone through 9 (yes - NINE!) full operations to try and put her body back together - all since 18 November 2010. She still has no external ears although, thankfully, her inner ears are still working.

    She will NEVER be the same gorgeous fun-loving girl she was before. Emotionally and psychologically, she is still dealing with open gaping wounds. She is trying to not let it show, but those around her and those who love her can see the pain. She has not even looked in a mirror - it scares her to think about having to see what is left of her head.

    As for our our friendship with the Hepplers, it has not changed. Anna and Lori are still very close; however, in my humble opinion, I believe there may be a bit of denial going on with Anna - and I can't blame her one bit. To think this happened in her house to her best friend by her dogs while she was babysitting her child must be horrifying and mindbending. I also think she is in "mama bear" mode because of all the hate mail and lack of support she has been getting. She was even ran out of this "loving community" (as one of the city council members put it, right before they voted to get rid of her) all based on preconceived notions of how someone must act in this situation.

    Long story short, there is still much to be told about what happened the Eighteenth of November, the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Ten. If you desire more information, and if Lori wishes to share it, feel free to contact me. Thank you for this opportunity to speak out for Lori.


I welcome your comments and questions.
Be advised that comments are moderated. Not for views, but for content.
Profanity, personal attacks, and spam within comments will result in your comment being rejected.
I, personally, love Pit Bulls as well as all dogs and most animals.
If your comment differs from my feelings or opinions, I will post it anyway, providing it does not include any of the three exceptions listed above.
Same goes for comments that are in harmony with my opinions.
Thank you for participating.