Written by Ruth Todd Halleran (Betty Todd’s daughter)
People who knew mother called her Betty Anne. Her sisters, and closest friends, called her Anne. My mother was such a southern lady, so full of grace and poise. She was a tiny little thing, too. Her hands were so dainty, with long, feminine fingers and perfect natural nails. She had a brilliant mind, and loved political debates. If we ever needed to know anything at all with any certainty, we didn’t bother with google. We called Mom and she was a fountain of knowledge. She loved music and dancing, and the beauty in sports. When my brothers and I were little, she would help us make blanket forts, then read to us from within them. She had amazing voices for the different characters. If we were really into the book, we could dress up like our favorite character. We were Hobbits before being a Hobbit was cool! Mom jumped on our beds with us, and danced in the rain with us. She showed us how to take an umbrella out in the rain and sit down underneath it, and just watch the world. She would spend days helping us build a Lego world throughout our playroom, sometimes down the hallway, and the stairway. She loved playing Star Wars with my brothers. When I made the state swim team, she got up and took me to practice every morning of the summers at 5am. She encouraged my brothers and me to try different things, to have diverse friendships, even invisible friends were allowed at our dinner table. She made the best fried chicken and fried cubed steak there ever was and her beef stroganoff was delicious. She demanded we treat each and every person with kindness, love, and respect. She didn’t allow us to think we were “better” than other people. I loved growing up with my parents dancing together throughout the house, singing, and madly in love with one another. They loved our friends as if they were their own. That was my childhood.
Mom was an active participant in her grandchildren’s lives and had a terrific relationship with each one of my children. My mother spent the week after Christmas 2012 with my children and me at our home. We had the best time playing games, dancing on Kinect, talking, and just visiting. I had the rare opportunity to tell my mother how much she meant to me, as my oldest daughter sat silently close by. I told my mother that I loved everything about her. I told her how instrumental she had been in my life, in my children’s lives, and how much that meant to me. I told her how much I loved her and what a terrific mother and grandmother she was. God organized the most wonderful visit for us. We said our goodbyes on January 6, 2013, and I had no idea that it would be the last time I hugged my mother, or felt her hug, or held her hands as she told me she loved me. She was so tiny, so beautiful.
I missed a call from my baby brother on January 8, 2013, then got a “911 call now” text from him. My initial thoughts were to pray that the children were safe, then I worried about his wife and prayed she was safe. I called him and could tell immediately something was horribly wrong. He yelled out that Mom was dead, his dog had killed Mom. I was very confused (who the heck hears about a dog killing anyone, much less a grown woman). My brothers are very good at practical jokes, and I had JUST seen my mother, there was no way something so unheard of, so appalling, had happened. I scolded my baby brother for using mother for the base of his sick joke. He sobbed into the phone, saying he was so sorry. “I’m so sorry Ruthie. I’m so sorry baby. Momma. Momma is gone. My momma is gone. The dog killed her.” I don’t recall everything I said to my baby brother. I remember falling to my knees and my son’s friend appearing before me. I remember feeling like I needed to time warp to my brother. I had to get to him immediately- right away. I am the big sister and it’s my job to protect him. I told him I was on my way. I told him that I love him and I would be there as soon as I could. I had to tell my children, family members and closest friends, with so little of an explanation. Who the hell gets killed by a dog? This is America. I simply didn’t understand. I did drive through the night, and was there for my brothers the next morning. I learned that mother had been over to babysit the grandchildren (twelve, nine, 17 months). Mom spent tons of time at my brother’s house. My sister in law did a superb job including my mother in her life. Mica, the pit bull that my sister in law had raised from a puppy, snapped and killed my sweet little mother.
I took it upon myself to visit the crime scene, in hopes to clean my mother’s blood up, and both my sisters in law went with me. There was no cleaning all the blood up. A company came in later and replaced drywall, subflooring, furniture, etc. There were bloody paw prints from the front door into the den. I remember clearly there being very little oxygen in the room. There was a gross amount of blood on the floor, walls, fireplace, furniture, toys, etc. What startled and moved me most were the itty bitty little handprints in the blood on the wall. My twelve year old niece had tried desperately to save my mother’s life. My heart almost exploded. I later learned that the 17 month old was lying on the floor next to mother, when my niece knew she could not help, she grabbed up her baby brother, grabbed her sister, and ran to her parents room to hide and call for help. She is my hero. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
I went to see my mother. I desperately wanted to hold her soft, gentle hands again. I wanted to hug her one last time. She had huge bite marks on her right ankle, right leg, all over her hands and arms, as if she was used as a bone. Her hands were horrible. I learned later that she fought so hard, when they pried her hands open to remove the dog’s hair, the dog’s skin was attached. Her right shoulder was dislocated in a backward fashion, half her right face was missing, as well as part of her right neck, and most of her right ear. My mother had bite marks all over her face, neck, and scalp. Her vocal box was ripped, that’s why my niece only heard one yell. Her C1 & C2 were fractured; part of her spinal cord was ripped from her lifeless body. She fought and fought. She suffered from a horrific, sustained, vicious and violent attack at the jaws of a completely unpredictable breed of dog. My mother’s autopsy report shows her wounds to be consistent with defending her grandchild. The report states that my mother was defending her grandchild. My mother is a hero. She saved my nephew’s life.
My mother’s funeral brought hundreds of people out; some had met my mother in elementary school. Dozens of people shared stories with me of my mother’s kindness and generosity. She is missed by so many. My sister in law loved my mother and was a loving part of her life. When she came home to find that Mica the pit bull had killed Blue the Siberian husky a short time before this, she contacted the local Humane Society about euthanization. She was told that spaying the dog would help. She also called a local vet and was told the same thing. She wasn’t told to be careful, that the dog might try to kill her children, visitors, or any human. She had the dog “fixed”, as the professionals told her to.
The night that my mother was killed, the Sheriff’s department was told of this. The reporter for the gwdtoday website only talked to the animal control officer and reported that there wasn’t any prior aggression by Mica. Then he reported that the Sheriff’s Dept learned later that there was. That was not true. I spoke to the investigating officer and FOUR supervisors with the Gwd Cnty Sheriff’s Dept who assured me that they did not speak to the reporter and mislead him. The coroner also confirmed that my brother disclosed the previous aggression the night my mother was killed.
My mother’s death devastated my family and took away my mother’s life before she was ready to go. My mother LOVED being a part of her grandchildren’s lives and her great grandchild’s life. She talked about little else since her last grandchild and great grandchild were born, other than how amazing those two were. The professional advice that my sister in law got should have led to criminal charges against the professionals. They KNOW the dangers of pit bulls. They KNOW the potential for violent attacks against humans after pit bull breeds have attacked an animal. The evidence is there for them to accept or deny. We relied on them for accurate information, safe and sound advice, and they did not offer any. They went on the news and claimed the dog was protecting her “pack”. From whom, may I ask? A loving, fun grandmother who knew and loved the dog? The Greenwood HS stated it as if it were factual, yet they had not even spoken to the medical examiner. They had not spoken to the family. They lied to the very community they represent, again.
The entire money trail of the pit bull protection movement is appalling. I will not stop digging until the truth is known. I will not stop demanding change from these so-called “professionals”. I will not stop demanding accountability for the advice they give out that gets dozens of people killed every year. My mother was a kind, gentle soul who simply did not deserve such a violent death. Something good has to come from her gruesome, unnecessary death.
This is a list of dog breeds that have a history of being potentially dangerous to people, especially children. Daxton’s Friends for Canine Education and Awareness understands that any dog has the ability to bite or inflict serious harm to humans. This list consists of several dog breeds that have a higher than average number of recorded human fatalities. Please use extreme caution if you choose to bring one of these breeds into your home. Rental communities and homeowners insurance may restrict many of the dog breeds on this list due to the likelihood of a serious incident. Pit Bulls, Mastiff, and Rottweiler lead in fatalities and are listed first. The rest of the breeds are listed in alphabetical order: Pit Bull Terrier Family
- American Bulldog
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- English/Standard Bull Terrier
- Miniature Bull Terrier
- Olde English Bulldog
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff
- Dogo Argentino
- English Mastiff
- Fila Brasileiro
- Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff
- Great Dane/German Mastiff
- Presa Canario
- St. Bernard/Alpine Mastiff