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Elderly Man Injured in Attack by Pit Bull Mix At Palm Coast’s Canopy Walk Dies

| February 24, 2017

canopy walk pit bull attack

Yorkshire terriers are relatively small dogs. The generic image above is not the dog killed in Sunday’s attack. (Andras Csore)

James E. Bennett, the 79-year-old man who was attacked and injured by a dog on Sunday at Canopy Walk, died this morning of an apparent heart attack.

Bennett suffered the cardiac episode at his home at Canopy Walk, and was pronounced dead at Florida Hospital Flagler, where he’d been transported, shortly afterward.

Bennett had been walking his dog in the parking lot of Canopy Walk when both he and his dog were attacked by a dog belonging to other residents of the Palm Coast complex, off Palm Coast Parkway. The attacking dog was a Labrador-pit bull mix, which mauled Bennett’s dog to death and severely injured Bennett, who was hospitalized that day. The attacking dog was later euthanized.

The previous story about that incident is below.

Elderly Man Severely Injured, His Dog Mauled and Killed by Pit Bull Mix at Canopy Walk

February 21–Sunday morning (Feb. 19) before 9, James E. Bennett, a 79-year-old resident of the Canopy Walk complex in Palm Coast, was walking Gidget, his Yorkshire terrier, inside the complex, as he usually does in the morning.

Within moments, Bennett and his 7-year-old Yorkshire were attacked by another dog, a Labrador-pit bull mix, Gidget was killed, Bennett was severely injured and hospitalized, and Bennett’s wife, Sandra, 72, suffered an anxiety attack, became un-responsive, and required hospitalization as well.

The attacking dog, Wilson, was owned by Helena Karnani, 58, and Neel Karnani, 60, also residents of Canopy Walk.

Helena Karnani told Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies she and her husband had been walking their two dogs in the complex when Wilson’s leash broke. Wilson, she said, “began running around and working himself up as he usually does,” according to a sheriff’s incident report. Neel tried to catch him several times. But Wilson, a 2-year-old dog, was large and fast, and Neel wasn’t able to catch up to him.

Bennett was on a sidewalk with Gidget in the same area. As soon as Wilson saw the pair, the dog charged them. Bennett saw the dog coming his way so he immediately picked up Gidget and held her in his right arm. Wilson, however, jumped (Bennett is about 5’4’’), and “while still in motion from running,” the report states, managed to bite Bennett on his right arm and Gidget on her back.

Bennett tried to fight off the dog by hitting Wilson with his free hand. But the dog was so aggressive and large that it kept lunging at Bennett, doing so four times and finally knocking Bennett off his feet. At that point Bennett lost his hold of Gidget. The small Yorkshire tried to get away. She didn’t get far. Wilson caught up and mauled her, killing her.

By the time Neel Karnani was able to get control of his dog again, the damage was done. (A witness in the parking lot was able to confirm the series of events.)

Gidget suffered from numerous lacerations and puncture wounds to her neck and back. She was dead by the time a deputy arrived at the scene. Bennett suffered severe wounds to his right arm. He was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler, where medical personnel said the injuries would require numerous stitches, with an X-ray still pending to determine if there’d been further injury.

While deputies were at the scene investigating the incident, Bennett’s wife, Sandra, suffered an anxiety attack, lost consciousness, and was taken to the hospital by a second ambulance, though by then she’d regained consciousness. The hospitalization was a precaution.

An animal control officer reported to the scene, taking affidavits from participants and photographing the scene, as well as Gidget, before securing the dead dog pending what disposition or services Gidget’s owners would opt for.

Neel Karnani voluntarily surrendered Wilson to the humane society to be euthanized.

55 Responses for “Elderly Man Injured in Attack by Pit Bull Mix At Palm Coast’s Canopy Walk Dies”

  1. Ras says:

    That dog needs to be put down ASAP. that could have been a child out for a walk. The law should step up and euthanasia should be done on this killer anamial FAST that dog serves no purpose on this earth. My heart goes out for the yorkies owners they must have been traumatized

  2. Pa says:

    When is this all going to stop !!!! Vicious dogs with owners that can not control them. I have been bitten and had a dog killed 2 years ago by a Pit-bull. Also had my dog attacked by a German Shepard 2 months ago. People have to be aware of what there dogs can do…..Both times the people that own the attackers said” I never thought they would do that” !!!!!! Now I must walk around with pepper spray and a club because its not going to ever happen again !!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    .Pit bull pit bull mix what a shocker.

  4. Anony says:

    Not only should dogs be restrained in public, they should also be muzzled. That’s the only way to ensure that tragedies like this do not occur. Muzzled should be mandatory at pet stores as those places are a disaster waiting to happen. We do muzzle our dogs when they are out in public.

  5. D.S. says:

    This is infuriating! People need to learn to control their dogs! Especially a large breed regardless of the breed/Mix. Dogs need to be socialized at a young age. It should be a requirement of owning a large dog over 40lbs. Obedience classes and socialization classes are not very expensive. If you are not willing to put the time and money into learning how to properly train and control your dog, you have no business owning one!

  6. tulip says:

    In my opinion, Mr. Karnani did the right thing in relinquishing Wilson. I’m sure he and his wife feel horrible about what happened and will have a hard time dealing with facing the victims and neighbors.

  7. Laurie says:

    I feel so bad for this couple and their dog, so tragic. I do not care what anyone says, pitbulls are not a good breed of dog. There are plenty of other dog breeds to have as a pet. This story breaks my heart. Prayers for the gentleman to recover quickly, he and his wife will grieve over the loss of precious Ginger. So glad the pitbull will be euthanized.

  8. Thomas says:

    These types of incidents happen several times a year.
    They are one of the reasons I usually carry a firearm in that area

  9. Shark says:

    Morgan & Morgan

  10. Laura says:

    Omg- tears in my eyes right now. I have PERSONALLY been attacked by 2 different put bills in my lifetime. I’m not saying that all put bills are bad however if a certain breed’s jaws can lock with such force ( I speak from experience) then said animal should be muzzled in public-no excuses. My prayers go out to the poor family. Grieving the loss of a pet in such a manner is horrific.

  11. Just sayin' says:

    A few years back I decided to investigate the Pit Bull attacks and as to the “why” this is so prevalent in this breed. I have shown/bred/trained many breeds over the years so this really intrigued me.

    I began by “pretending” to be interested in a Pit Bull. I then contacted a very high-end Pit Bull breeder in Georgia. This breeder came highly recommended by many.

    I found a blue-nose and a red-nose female 7 weeks old each cost well over 2,000.00. I asked for their pedigree and was astounded when the breeder relished in the fact that his dogs were bred in family. (I played dumb at this point.) I asked what he meant? He then informed me that to achieve the highly sought after colors of blue and red inbreeding (over many generations) MUST take place.

    He said for the blue female he had, her mother was bred to her uncle and for the red nose the brother and sister of another litter was bred together. FINALLY! it all made sense! If inbreeding is taking place in multiple generations as this breeder had done like so many others, it could INDEED cause mental instability along with a HOST of other issues. There is NO WAY socialization NOR training or anything else you can try could be 100% effective if the actual genetics are the problem. The fact that some Pitts mentally snap and some don’t is just how the cookie crumbles when you spin the genetic roulette wheel.

    Educate yourselves.

  12. Liberal says:

    I got bit in the face by a Pomeranian. Lots of blood. I accepted the fact that it was a dog and dogs bite, Regardless of their size. It all depends on how they are raised. Sham on the owners on not controlling their dog and ultimately causing injury and death to another animal as well as its own death. Kind of like kids, don’t raise them right and see what happens.

  13. gmath55 says:

    How can you control a dog when the leash broke! Read the article folks. Duh

  14. Rmacdon says:

    I have been bitten by 3 dogs ALL LITTLE ONES drawing blood. Not all mean dogs are big.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sooo sad!!! Poor little Ginger. I hate pit Bulls.

  16. Pa says:

    Gmath55 DUH read the artical ….. Broken leash or not that dog unprovoked attacked a 7 lb dog killed it then bit a human several times that is not the normal way a pet acts !!!

  17. Confused says:

    So are we to draw the same conclusion with LAbs or other dog breeds. Let’s face it. A dog is a dog.

  18. Sandra says:

    Once again just a pibbles doing what it was bred to do.No not all pitbulls will attack but they are a breed intentionally bred to recognize other dogs as prey.No I don’t hate pitbulls I even had two about 30 years ago and I did love them but both were highly dog aggressive and no amount of training or behavior modification in the world would’ve have ever changed that.It breaks my heart everytime time I see another litter of pitbull puppies on Craigslist knowing that in a year they will all most likely be dead.Hopefully it was a kind death euthanasia but more than likely it will be from neglect,starvation on injury.Shouldve never been born to begin.No birth=No suffering.If you truly care about these dogs quit breeding them like there’s no tomorrow and filling up the shelters and guilt tripping and lying to naive potential adopters who have no business getting these dogs.Genetics do count and no amount of love or training will ever completely erase it.It will always be just below the surface.

  19. Born and Raise Here says:

    I have 2 big Labs, and I don’t walk them. Only to do their business. My Labs and all large dogs should either go to the Dog Park or the Beach. They need to run and run

  20. Duncan says:

    It’s no secret that certain breads have been identified as being aggressive. Just take a look at your home owners policy, there is likely restrictions on the type of dogs you are allowed to house. Certainly not all Pit bulls are overly aggressive and I’m certain you can find a over aggressive full Lab if you look hard enough.

    Perhaps such breeds should be required to be muzzled when in public.

  21. Ryan says:

    Sad what happened, but I’d like to know more about the owners. Funny how no one pushes that issue isn’t it? When there’s a shooting it’s the gun that’s the problem. When a dog attacks, it’s the breeds fault. If kids get killed racing fast cars, it’s the car manufacturers fault for making the fast car. See the pattern here? Yeah. Unless we allow irresponsible pet owners to be held accountable and publicly shamed, so they are made an example of, the problems will continue.

  22. Debbie Bell says:

    Excellent post.

  23. Debbie Bell says:

    No person, group or business that actually cares about dog welfare would want more dogs to be born with a deadly
    man-made birth defect.

    Fighting dogs are born with the deadly birth defect to mature to suddenly have the drive to seek and destroy their own kind, their own family, for no external reason, on mutant instinct alone.

    It’s called “starting” or “turning on”.

    Those who do promote the continued breeding of expert dog- killing dogs are on the same side as those who fight dogs.

    Those who do promote the continued breeding of expert dog- killing dogs are ultimately responsible for the disproportionate suffering both caused by pits and also suffered by pits.

    All those who resist severe breeding restrictions of THE fighting dogs support dog fighters, as they contribute to either the organized dog fighting or the spontaneous dog attrocities such as this.

    These sidewalk attacks are worse than the staged dogfights; at least the humans all choose to attend the staged fights and the dogs born to want to maul and kill.

    No so when pits leave home on seek and destroy missions.

    Pits are different and the best at maturing to maim and kill dogs.Proof is the FACT that essentially all UK and NA dog fighters choose only pits.

  24. Markingthedays says:

    Any animal who attacks my dog will be euthanized before the authorities arrive on scene.

  25. Richard Smith says:

    My 11 1/2 YO Red Golden Retriever was recently attacked by a Pit-Bull mix while visiting my sister at Bulow RV Resort. This breed including a Pit-Bull mix breed of dog have killer instinct genes and once their jaws are clamped down on another dog or human they will seldom let go until severe damage or death has been done. There is NOT ONE THING good about this breed of dog and it should be eliminated from the gene pool and put on the extinction list. Even the Westminster Dog Show will not allow the American Pit Bull Terrier to be included as they are not AKC recognized due to their breeding.

    I should start carrying the can of bear spray that I have from my Alaskan days along with a billy club and a 12 inch separated hunting knife just to protect my precious Golden Retriever from future attacks. Maybe carry a Glock too and “stand my ground”. Getting sick and tired of people, old or young, who cannot control their animals. If they can’t then I will and it won’t be a pretty picture. Just one less useless pit-bull roaming the face of this earth.

  26. MannyHM says:

    Muzzle is a practical solution to protect both humans and the dog itself ! Mistakes and accidents happen with a leash that broke or slip through etc. but not with muzzle.

  27. dog lover says:

    my mother had a yorkie male he attacked me and my kids. breeds dont matter, its the dog,

  28. Ben says:

    I’ll start of saying I’m sorry for both parties but you can’t blame the animals they are doing what they are trained to do I own another bad breed dog a Rott she’s 115 lbs and she is trained to protect my wife and the house but she is so well behaved she was attacked by a rat terrier and she didn’t do one thing because she was under command . I was at Publix the other day getting groceries a man his wife his little boy and little girl walk by me the little girl kick me for no reason and Man grabbed her and told his wife this is the third time it’s happened today in the store so crack kid being bad she be on a leash not all kids are bad it’s the way they were brought up just like any animal my dog is part of my family and I would protect her from anything and she would protect me from anything so you can’t blame the breed you blame the way they brought up

  29. Ben says:

    Check out number two on the most dogs list for bites (Cocker spaniel) you need to put the blame where it needs to be not where you think it fits for your beliefs

  30. Richard Smith says:

    Big difference between the number of biting incidents and killing incidents. How many Cocker Spaniels have killed other dogs or people? Seems to me you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  31. Anna says:

    Did the yorkie kill you? Of course not! Any dog could bite, but usually only pit bulls kill! I’m so sick of hearing people protect these killer dogs. Read to get the real story on who the killer dogs are…they are the pit bulls and the pit bull mixes!

  32. UltraViolet says:

    Such a sad, horrifying story. For all involved. You can’t blame the pit’s owners if the dog had never been aggressive before. Yes, they are responsible and I’m quite sure they are heartbroken and, if they’re not, they’re not human. Such a tragedy. I just can’t even imagine being attacked like that and having my dog maimed and killed in front of me. The couple attacked could have also been killed! And, yes, if a child had been walking that little Yorkie, it’s just unthinkable. The pit’s owners turned the dog over, as they should. My heart is broken for all involved. So sad….

  33. Anonymous says:

    It’s all about practical training with a pit bull. They’re not bad dogs. It’s the owners. In fact look at the minority’s of pit bull owners. They train their pit bulls like this. But if you’re a good owner you train your pit bull to know commands. They’re actually one of the easiest dogs to train! Don’t blame the dog blame the owner!!!

  34. Maggie says:

    I have a mini Dachshund that I walk regularly around my retirement park. I double-leash him just because I never want him getting off leash…too many critters that would love to eat him…he’d be a goner for sure if he ever got lost. If I can double leash my little guy, you can bet I’d double-leash any dog that was capable of killing another dog or person no matter how gentle he was. You can also bet I will be carrying pepper spray with me from now on to defend myself or my dog. Obviously picking up your little dog is not sufficient to protect them…and I’ve had to do that many times even in my park which has leash laws and no dogs over 25 pounds. Owners who are incapable of controlling their dog at all times should never have a dog. And what are they doing walking this big dog with a leash that obviously was not strong enough in the first place? My heart goes out to this man’s family.

  35. BOB says:

    Homeowners policy LIST the dangerous dogs. Its not brain surgery folks. If you have a 95 lb women walking a PIT BULL you are asking for trouble. PALM COAST HAS NO RESTRICTIONS ON DANGEROUS BREADS. SOUTHERN CULTURE. Dogs can even ride on the top of trailers on 95.

  36. Murphy says:

    Thats right Maggie, agree w you!

  37. MothersWorry says:

    This is sad in so many ways. The gentleman out for a walk with his small dog, the owner of the pit-bull mix. Nobody had intent to be injured or to injure, but it continues to happen with the pit bull breed. What troubles me is that the owner of the mix could not recall his dog. This dog wasn’t protecting anything it just attacking.. The statement that the leash broke is no excuse the dog should be trained to respond when called and the owner should have had proper equipment to control his dog.
    People buy dogs and imo are too damn lazy to train the dog. Heck, now folks don’t take their dog out they use a “piddle pad”. That is imo the height of laziness.
    Since ” we” have proven once again that we can’t be trusted to do the right thing it is past time for these dogs to banned from, at a minimum, residential areas.

    Oh, to the writer who suggests dogs should be run at the beach, dogs on the beach are supposed to be on a fairly short leash

  38. Just sayin' says:

    There are 340 breeds of dogs in the world. And 167 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

    The “Pit Bull” backyard created mutt is NOT one. They began with a Staffordshire Terrier and created a Frankenstein genetically mutated p.o.s. Inbreeding HAS to be done to satisfy the desires of the public to get the color and muscle definition.

    Just look at a Staffordshire Terrier and the a Pit. It is HORRENDOUS!

    Out of all the beautiful breeds of dogs you’d think people would want one that would better suit them in look, and personality.

    I guess it’s MONKEY-SEE-MONKEY-DO!!!

  39. blondee says:

    Hoping the Karnanis have good liability insurance!

  40. Frank says:

    I’m surprised they allowed a resident of the complex to own a pit bull in the first place. Usually multi-dwelling residences have restrictions on such types of dogs.

  41. Marlee says:

    When my husband was threatened by a loose pit-bull dog on the beach, the owner yelled to my husband…”you know what dog spells backwards!”

    Really! that did happen!

  42. Barbara Joy Mullen says:

    People who cannot control their dangerous dogs (no matter the breed) should be held responsible for the damage their dog does. In this horrific case, I would call it manslaughter. 😡

  43. Anony says:

    A terrible tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
    It’s sad that another dog was allowed to breed resulting in another dog that killed and had to be in turn euthanized. It’s more support for mandatory sterilization of pets, both cats and dogs.

  44. Laurie says:

    It breaks my heart to learn the gentleman died,,,prayers to his wife, she has now lost her dear husband and her beloved dog….so senseless, this did not need to happen.

  45. Girl says:

    A shame, may he RIP, prayers to his wife and family.

  46. Ana says:

    My deepest condolences to the family.

  47. Richard Smith says:

    This story is about the sadist one I have read on FL. A husband and a pet dog dead because of a vicious and preventable attack by a Pit-Bull Mix. This should be a WAKE-UP call for everyone. If not you have no heart or compassion.

  48. cls says:

    The Pitt Bull caused the man to die. I think it is time Flagler county banned all Pitts as a danger to our community. “American pit bull terriers are frequently in the news for attacking people, especially children and elderly people. They also cause more fatalities than any other breed (60+ vs 19 for the next breed, rottweilers), so some insurance companies deny liability coverage to homeowners or renters with pit bulls. Originally bred for aggression and physical strength to bait bears and bulls, modern pit bulls retain some of those fierce qualities. Pit bulls are most likely to bite if startled or provoked. (or for No reason at all other than they want to kill you).

    Rottweilers date back to the Roman Empire and have historically been used as police or guard dogs, and also have a history of herding livestock. The breed’s strength increases their risks to children, so owners must socialize the dogs properly. Pit bulls and Rottweilers were responsible for 74 percent of all reported dog bites from 2005 to 2013.” And if the cocker spaniel biting guy was looking at they were saying pitts were least likely to bite based on popularity, so the twist is how they reported and conducted the survey. Pitts lead the WORLD in bites and attacks.

  49. Pamela Peterson says:

    Obviously the person who has suffered the most as a result of this tragic incident is Sandra Bennett who is grieving the loss of her family pet and now her husband. The dog involved was a Pit Bull Labrador mix. We are told by Pit Bull Rescue groups that the breed is not dangerous unless trained to behave that way and Labradors are reputed to have a gentle nature. Animal shelters nationwide urge people to adopt abandoned animals instead of buying pure bred dogs from breeders. Perhaps the Karnanis chose this dog because they wanted to provide a home for an unwanted animal. I do not know but I did know this couple many years ago. Although we lost contact I knew them well enough to be able to say that they are caring,well educated people who spend every day of their working lives helping people. The last thing that either one of them would want is to harm someone. Could anyone who has criticized the owners guarantee that if they had been walking this dog that had never been aggressive in the past the attack would not have happened? I realize that no matter how distressed the Karnanis feel and no matter how many times they apologize it will not change the outcome. But neither will criticizing and condemning them. My sincere condolences to Sandra Bennett and her family.

  50. Just sayin' says:

    @PamelaPeterson…YES! I can GUARANTEE you this wouldn’t have happened with me, because I have enough common sense to know NOT to own a Pitt Bull mixed with ANY other breed.

    Maybe for 50 bucks they should’ve ordered a test online that shows GUARANTEED what breed(s) are in the mix.

    Pit Bull mutts should be banned country wide. Starting with Florida.

  51. MannyHM says:

    I don’t see any comment here from anyone feeling sorry for Wilson, the attack dog. He is the third casualty here. I felt sorry for him because he is just being a dog and a dog bites.
    All of these could have been prevented with an inexpensive basket muzzle.
    In other places if a dog charge at or attack a police officer, that dog is gone.

  52. Joe smith says:

    After reading the comments y’all do realize that this was a lab mix too? Should we ban labs? I have had both breeds and both were hyper but as nice as could be.

  53. Robert Hopkins, Jr says:

    Miami-Dade County has outlawed the ownership of pit-bulls. If they can do it, then Palm Coast and Flagler County can do the same. Although the vicious ones may be in the minority, the breed is still at the top of the list of of dangerous dogs. So why pick the worst to own when there are hundreds of other breeds and mixed breeds to chose from?

  54. Stepanie says:


  55. Old Lady says:

    So sad, I thought Palm Coast had leash laws

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