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Necropsy on Wilton Dog that Mauled Owner Turns up Nothing

Results from a state medical diagnostic laboratory reveal nothing abnormal. Wilton Police Capt. Lynch describes the incident as the most stressful of his career.

The house at 77 Range Rd in Wilton where Anne Murray was mauled by the family dog. Credit: Leslie Yager
The house at 77 Range Rd in Wilton where Anne Murray was mauled by the family dog. Credit: Leslie Yager
After a two-month wait, the results from a necropsy on the Wilton dog that mauled its owner, Anne Murray, 65, on Nov. 11, 2013 have turned up nothing that might explain a dog's sudden attack on its owner. 

On Tuesday, Wilton Police Capt. Lynch shared results from the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory that tested the dog's body. 

The lab results, dated, Dec. 18, 2013, indicate, "There was no gross or microscopic evidence of any inflammatory, infectious or neoplastic disease process in any of the examined tissues of the dog. PCR [sic] for canine distemper virus from a pool of tissues (lung, urinary bladder, and kidney) was negative. No toxic organic compounds were detected in the liver.”

Captain Lynch shared his account of the events that took place on Nov. 11 at Range Rd at a weekly briefing with reporters on Tuesday, saying that it was the most stressful incident in his police career.

Lynch recalled that he had been on his way to get a quick coffee with Wilton Police Officer Tyler, who had been involved in a car accident that morning, when he heard on the police radio that there had been an incident involving a dog bite. Lynch said that when he arrived at 77 Range Rd there were two cars on the scene and one was blocking the southbound lane. 

"A woman witness was sticking out of the passenger seat of her car and she said to be careful," Lynch recalled, adding that he heard screaming from the victim coming from under the car in the driveway.

Capt. Lynch said he then called into headquarters to say the incident was serious and that he would have to "dispatch the dog," who he described as "a very large dog who was prancing between me and the woman and I felt it could attack me. I was unsure if I could defend myself," Lynch said, adding that he knew he had to get to the victim. 

Capt. Lynch said that his training kicked in and he was able to get an angle with a clear shot at the dog without endangering the victim or the other witness, William D'arbanville, a college student from the neighborhood.

"The first shot the dog went down, but he was moving," said Lynch who added that he shot the dog again. Capt. Lynch said the incident seemed to have gone on for a long time. "Listening to the tapes, it was just a minute and a half but it felt like five minutes," he said. 

Capt. Lynch indicated there had had been some contact with the victim's twin sons, 26, since the incident, but that Wilton Police have not been able to speak to the victim to explore what might have led to the attack. A test for rabies test on the dog came back negative on Nov. 14. 

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Deirdre 43 January 01, 2014 at 12:11 PM
I'm not surprised the medical examiner found no biological cause for the pitbull to attack. No rabies or anything else. It's just the dog's nature. They are programmed to kill. They should be banned.
Lorna January 01, 2014 at 01:49 PM
As the proud adopter of my second rescue dog (from PAWS of Norwalk), both of whom obviously had pitbull lineage, I disagree whole-heartedly with this prior comment. My pit mixes have been protective, yes, but also very friendly when they sense a) I trust the other people around and b) the other people love dogs. They have also been extremely loyal. My mutts have even been very sensitive to when a member of the family has been sick or upset, sticking to that person's side. In this tragic incident with Ms. Murray, and in many other cases when pitbulls or other dogs have attacked, I would venture that there has been a history of little to no socializing of the dogs; perhaps elements of cruelty, abuse and negligence; and deliberate training for them to be attack dogs. Given that one of the Murray sons has a long rap sheet and a history of drug involvement, I would bet that the dog was trained to attack and was raised in questionable conditions. Take a look at the picture of the house and see if you think that reflects a caring environment. (I drove by there not long ago and the place was still a mess.) FYI: The only time I got bitten by a dog was by a Black Lab mix who chased me on the street while I was running. Don't berate the breed because of bad owners.
Deirdre 43 January 01, 2014 at 03:54 PM
You are speculating about the dog owners. You are spreading rumors based on nothing concrete. Hasn't this family suffered enough without you badmouthing them. Perhaps they will sue you for libel.
Lorna January 01, 2014 at 04:44 PM
You are right, Deirdre - it is speculation. Note that I said "would", not "is" or "are." These are my opinions, which I am free to express. It's not libel to mention the sons' public record: http://wilton.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/wilton-twins-arrested-one-held-on-70k-bond. And I feel enormously sorry for Ms. Murray because of the life-altering injuries she suffered. I can't begin to imagine the strength she will need to pull through such a trauma. I hope her health insurance will provide coverage for the treatment she will need. This tragedy might never have happened if the dog had received lots of loving care, in addition to regular exercise, socialization and discipline. I know you can't always "judge a book by its cover," but if the condition of the yard is an indicator of what goes on inside the home, it's anyone's guess about the quality of care given to the dog. I hope this horrific incident serves as a wake-up call to owners of dogs with aggression or other behavioral issues to take every possible preventative measure and give their pets lots of calming love and attention.
Bar Dumbglen January 01, 2014 at 07:46 PM
Agreed deirdie. This is an animal with the capacity to tear off a human limb. This bully breed rescue outfit has done everything under the sun to conceal this fact but the truth can no longer be ignored. Pit bulls are not suitable pets.
Merritt Clifton January 02, 2014 at 06:32 PM
Of the 4,429 dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks on humans occurring in the U.S. & Canada since September 1982, when I began logging the data, 2,987 (67%) were pit bulls; 545 were Rottweilers; 3,775 were of related molosser breeds, including pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, boxers, and their mixes. Of the 530 human fatalities, 275 were killed by pit bulls; 85 were killed by Rottweilers; 397 (75%) were killed by molosser breeds. Of the 2,654 people who were disfigured, 1,775 (67%) were disfigured by pit bulls; 319 were disfigured by Rottweilers; 2,225 (83%) were disfigured by molosser breeds. Pit bulls--exclusive of their use in dogfighting--also inflict more than 10 times as many fatal and disfiguring injuries on other pets and livestock as on humans, a pattern unique to the pit bull class. Surveys of dogs offered for sale or adoption indicate that pit bulls and pit mixes are less than 6% of the U.S. dog population; molosser breeds, all combined, are 9%.
Tamie Beitz Williams January 02, 2014 at 07:07 PM
why is all the speculation pit advocates support easier than simply believing the genetics of the breed?
Pame Ashley January 02, 2014 at 08:27 PM
Facebook Pit Bulls Shot by Police to see how often police are endangered by pit bulls.
Tony Solesky January 02, 2014 at 09:23 PM
The word breed literally means how my dog will physically appear and behave. Breeding is any animal that results from unnatural selection. Otherwise it is a species which is the result of natural selection. For God sake, Many breed names are literal. German Short Haired Pointer. A dog originating in Germany with short hair that instinctually points birds. Lets me see “Pit” a place to fight. As in actually digging a pit and throwing two dogs into until one kills the other. “Bull” a dog that was bred to be able to latch onto a bulls nose without releasing it and take it down. Pit bulls a bull dog bred to fight to the death in a pit. BAN THE BREED AND END THE DEED!!!!
Madalene Taggart January 06, 2014 at 10:19 AM
The saying "Ignorance is bliss" certainly applies to you who have no idea about American Staffordshire Terriers. Any of you are welcome to come to my house and visit and learn how passive and loving mine are. My experience with dogs is that it is ALL in the training just as children. If you research Pit Bull you will also understand that they are mixed with many breeds. It was certainly heartbreaking for the injuries that the woman sustained but my guess and yes just a guess as all of you are making is that the dog had either no socialization or was trained to attack. Just as German Shepherds are for police dept any animal when trained to attack will do just that. My experience has been the larger the dog the better the disposition, unlike some smaller dogs that bite at their own will because their owners don't treat them like dogs, rather like spoiled children. Any of you who would like to meet well behaved pits please contact me and you will me licked to death not bit to death.
Tony Solesky January 06, 2014 at 01:25 PM
@Madalene, My experience with dogs is that it is all in how they are bred and that training is merely the direction of those instincts. The proof is in the fact you can’t just train any dog to attack and for Police work more important call them off on command. The reason the Police choose this breed rather then as you say just train anything. Most anybody can show you a friendly dog from any breed. What they can’t show you is the devastation from those breeds when they have a bad day. Any dog can bite so the standard of safety is not the idea but worse case. Lastly dogs are nothing like children. That is an anthropomorphic statement you use because when you confine the conversation to dogs and dog breeds the dog breed you promote has little to offer comparatively and even less as a pet in a companion pet society.
Madalene Taggart January 10, 2014 at 01:14 PM
@ Tony are you the same Tony Solesky who's child was mauled by a pit in Maryland? If so I understand your views and can not imagine the pain you and your family went through. That being said I agree that breeds do have breed specific behavior of which some of your smaller breeds are more aggressive than the larger breed. I have had American Staffie's for 26 years while raising 5 children and never had an aggressive instance. None of my dogs have ever had a "bad day" and growled or bit anyone. They would not even think to act out in that way. Once again if that was your son attacked, I am truly sorry and hope he is fully recovered.
Tony Solesky January 10, 2014 at 02:44 PM
Madalene, I am the same Tony Solesky, Thank you for your warm regards. My son has heavy scaring and his one left and foot is mildly atrophied but really he is fully recovered. My biggest fear is that sometimes people will confuse my advocacy against certain dog breeds as from a victims perspective rather then a long time dog enthusiast perspective. I do not believe my sons injuries as the result of a lone dog attack could amount to much unless they were consistent with certain dog breeds and far too many that involve the same breed. In 2014 already 2 US citizens have died by dog mauling. In the same way as happy I am for you that you have never had a bad experience with your dogs I find it no less pertinent to the special dangers associated to these dogs when contrasted against the fact that as a breed they are possessed of no special ability or function as a breed or companion animal that vast many other far more safe breeds could provide, to make them worth the debate or the risk comparatively speaking. In other words what makes the breed so set apart in value that any potential downside is of greater value?
Madalene Taggart February 05, 2014 at 05:45 PM
Tony, unfortunately Bully breeds sadly are the most abused dogs in the cities. I volunteer for a rescue PibblesNMore out of New York and see a fair amount of negelected and abused dogs that they deal with daily. I myself "fostered" a pregnant Pit from Georgia back in June. She was 44 pounds pregnant. She had 3 pups(mixed) 5 days after she came to me in Ct. She was heart worm positive and had 5 different parasites. I am a foster fail and adopted her. She is now heart worm free and parasite free and weighs 62 pounds. To answer your question as to what sets them apart in value vs their downside? I can't answer that. Personally I have had pits for the last 25 years and never ever had a problem with aggression to people with any of them. I really enjoy watching Cesar Milan and his thoughts on dog behavior in general and the mistakes that people make with them. I also think that the city mentality making them mean and fighting dogs is what has given them such a stigma. I do home visits for potential adopters for the rescue and will not approve a family or person if they dont have the time, resources, vet recommendations and yard to adopt a pit. I am so sorry that your son suffered the mauling that he did. No one should ever have to go through that especially a child. If people were forced to neuter/spay their dogs and be responsible dog owners it might alleviate some of the problems with pits and other breeds. God Bless you and your family. If your ever near Oxford please feel free to stop for a cup of coffee and lots of dog licks.

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