2023 Fatal Dog Attack Breed Identification Photographs Released

"In the 15-year period of 2005 through 2019, canines killed 521 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 66% (346) of these deaths. Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers contributed to 76% of the total recorded deaths." 

[HEADLINE HEALTH highly commends the work of DogsBite.org to document dog bite fatalities and increase public awareness of this tragic and 100% preventable cause of death.]

DogsBite.org – In 2013, we began the tradition of publishing breed identification photographs of fatally attacking dogs when available through news reports, animal control agencies, police departments, social media and public information requests.

Of the 58 dog bite fatalities recorded in 2023, 64% (37) had some form of a breed identification photograph. Our nonprofit was responsible for capturing 76% of them.

Pit bulls and their mixes represent 65% of the identification images collected in 2023.

Of the 37 cases with breed identification photographs, 27% (10) comprised images captured or republished by news media; 76% (28) comprised images located on social media pages of the dog’s owner or family members; and 76% (28) comprised images that were the result of our research and otherwise may have gone unpublished.

Police and animal control agencies released dog identification images after only 3 deaths, yet 71% of all deaths (41 of 58) involved dogs taken into quarantine. (Percentages are higher than 100% due to a single death containing multiple dog images, each attributed to a different source, as well as images that fall into overlapping publishing categories.)

“Daylan Guillen, 6-years old, died after sustaining traumatic injuries from a family pit bull on July 5, 2023 in North Port, Florida. The dog lived in the same home as the child since it was a puppy. ‘The dog was in a bedroom, the child walked into the bedroom to get something,’ police said. ‘Next thing you know, people heard screaming and jumped into action.'”

Identification Photographs (2013-2023)

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From 2013 to 2023, images captured by our nonprofit have risen from 26% to 76%. Images captured by media have fallen from 79% to 27%.

Screenshot of a Facebook post, personal data redacted
While this heartbreaking Facebook post does not identify the breed of the dogs involved, the page of the rescue involved is dominated by images of pit bulls.

2023 Unreleased Breed Data

Of the total recorded 58 dog bite fatalities in 2023, 7 cases had no breed information (12%). A FOIA by our nonprofit lowered that number to 6.

Our research of Facebook pages belonging to the dog owners — to locate the suspected dogs — lowered that number to only 3 cases (5%) when breed information was fully unknown. In 2022, the landscape was far worse, when 33% of all recorded fatal dog maulings fully lacked breed information until we brought forth multiple time-consuming FOIAs.

In 2023, 31% of deaths involved 1 or more dogs shot at the scene, which often diminishes the ability to collect breed identification images.

Characteristics of the 7 cases in 2023 where authorities did not release breed data include:

  • 100% of victims are adults ≥ 39 years old (when age known 6/6);
  • 100% of victims are classified as marginalized (when known 6/6);
  • 86% of attacks occurred in the Southern United States (6/7) and 71% involved a pack of 4 or more dogs (5/7).
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In the 4 cases where breed information was discovered, 75% involved pit bulls (3/4), half involved Belgian malinois’ (2/2) and half involved mixed-breed dogs (2/2).

Pack Attacks, Off Property Attacks Rise

Pack attacks and off-property attacks rose sharply in 2023. Pack attacks accounted for 29% of fatal dog bites in 2023, which is a 93% rise from the pre-Covid combined year average of 15% (2005 to 2019).

Off-property attacks accounted for 43% of fatal dog attacks in 2023, which is a 65% rise from the pre-Covid years of 26%. Of the 21 deaths where breed images were not captured in 2023, most attacks, 57% (12), occurred off the owner’s property and 76% (16) involved 1 or more pit bulls.

Despite the high number of off-property attacks, it was more common to obtain a breed identification photograph when the attack occurred on property. Of the 33 on property attacks, 73% (24) had an identification image versus 52% (13/25) for off-property attacks.

When property data is known, the dog owner’s Facebook page is more easily located. For off-property attacks — unless police name the dogs’ owner — it’s harder to obtain the information required to run searches on social media.

Breed Misidentification Conflicts

Two breed identification conflicts arose in 2023. They began with the death of a baby in Waterloo, Iowa. The grandmother, who was babysitting and called 911, identified the dog as a “pit bull” to the 911 dispatcher. In a 2018 Facebook post, the baby’s father hashtagged “Echo” as a pit bull.

The dog has the distinct “rose ears” of a pit bull, identified in the 1977 American Pit Bull conformation standard. Nonetheless, Waterloo officials stated the dog was a 9-year old “neutered male boxer-hound mix.”

“334 for an animal attack on an infant … The animal control, PD … received a report that a 9-month old child possibly killed by a pit bull. Our reporting party was also injured as well … Scott Avenue … 10-4, send a truck … Respond 334 for an animal attack … for a pit bull that’s attacked a 9-month old child, possibly killed it. We do have animal control and PD in route as well. Our reporting party was also injured. I don’t know the extent. It does sound like the pit bull might be in the backyard, in a fenced-in backyard.” – Black Hawk County Fire and EMS Dispatch

The other identification conflict arose after a 6-year old boy was killed by a pair of “very large and heavy great dane-mastiff mixes” in Portland, Oregon. The boy was routinely dopped off at the woman’s home, who owns the dogs, before school. That day, the boy followed her into the garage where the dogs were kept, and the dogs attacked him. The woman operates a business called “K9 Protection” and had images of two cane corso-mixes on her Facebook page, one from February 2023.

While not technically a conflict, because no breed data was released, the dog pack that killed Sau Nguyen, 79, is unusual. Multiple photographs of the dogs were published by media. Some speculated a Kangal was involved.

A woman whose chihuahua had been killed by the dog pack described them as, “akita shepherd-mix and a pit bull-akita mix.” Media did not even follow up with Nguyen’s cause of death, which was “multiple sharp force and blunt force injuries.” The manner of death was accident.


In 2023, 64% of dog bite fatalities had some form of a breed identification photograph, just above the 10-year average of 62% (2013 to 2022). Our nonprofit captured over three quarters of them, 76%, in 2023.

Pit bulls and their mixes represent 65% of the identification images collected in 2023, below the 10-year average of 74%. Breed identification photographs captured by media declined to 27% in 2023. The only worse year, 2020, was the peak of Covid when images captured by news media fell to 25%.

At 64%, 2023 marks the first increase in capturing these images since the pandemic. However, in 2019, 84% of deaths had a breed identity photo.

Finally, of the total recorded 58 dog bite fatalities in 2023, 7 cases lacked all breed information (12%). Through our nonprofit’s research and FOIAs, we lowered that number to only 3 cases, 5%.

We were able to capture breed identification images for 4 of these deaths, where otherwise the breeds involved would have been unknown. This is a better result than last year, when 33% of all recorded fatal dog maulings lacked breed information until we brought forth multiple time-consuming FOIAs.




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