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Pit Bull Who Mauled 9-Year-Old Girl Is to Be Put To Death, Palm Coast Rules

| November 14, 2018

Chopper. (Flagler Humane Society)

Chopper. (Flagler Humane Society)

Palm Coast’s code enforcement division determined after an investigation that Chopper, the 2-year-old pit bull who attacked and severely injured a 9-year-old girl at 47 Powder Horn Drive in Palm Coast last week, is a dangerous dog and is to be put to death. The dog’s execution may take place Thursday. The city now owns the dog. Its former owner, Sarah Fancher, surrendered Chopper to the city three days after the unprovoked Nov. 4 attack.


The city’s investigation indicates a few inconsistencies with the initial incident report by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, and 911 records confirm a claim by the victim’s father: that Fancher did not call 911 immediately after the attack. Only James Lanier Jr., the girl’s father, did so as he rode in the back of the family car, tending to his daughter Grace, while her mother drove to Florida Hospital Flagler. There, the girl received so many stitches on so many body parts that her parents lost count.

“They didn’t tell us right away,” Lanier told the 911 operator, referring to Fancher after the attack. In an interview, he claimed it was 15 minutes before he learned of the attack, as Grace was taken into Fancher’s home to be cleaned up. “I kept screaming for my mom and to go home,” Grace Lanier, the victim, wrote in her account of the attack. “My mom came and saw me. She said I needed stitches. I thought I was going to die.”

Lanier placed the call to 911 at 3:40 p.m. that Sunday. Fancher called the non-emergency line at the sheriff’s dispatch center 30 minutes later, records show. “I have a question for you,” she told the operator. “Our neighbor’s little daughter came over to our house to play with my daughter, and we have a pit bull that we got from animal society, anyway to make a long story short, the dog went through my son’s legs and bit this little girl, she’s at the emergency room right now, and I called animal control and they couldn’t come but we need to surrender the dog and they told me to call you guys and you would advise me what to do.”

In Fancher’s account to the sheriff’s deputy in the initial report, she said Grace had opened the screen door after Fancher’s son had opened the front door, thus enabling the dog to jump her–and in part shifting blame to the girl. The account left Grace’s father livid.

In her account in the animal control investigation, Grace states that after she knocked on the front door she could see the dog “going crazy at the window,” after he may have broken loose from his cage. (Fancher told deputies that the sound of the doorbell or knocking on the door caused the dog to act up.)

After Grace knocked on the door, she said Fancher’s son “opened both doors.” She asked him if his sister could come out and play. At that point Chopper, a 59-pound dog, attacked her. “His paw hit my head, knocking me down,” she related. “I kicked Chopper with my right leg. Chopper then bit my leg. Chopper then stood over me. I was screaming, Chopper get off, I put my hands and arms over my head, Chopper was biting me in the arm and shoulder.” The girl said that as the dog was attacking her, both of Fancher’s children hit Chopper in attempts to get him off of her. In the sheriff’s report, Fancher said she had been involved in trying to pry the dog away from the girl.

“She’s got bites all over,” her father told the 911 operator as Grace is heard screaming in the background. She’s been mending: she went back to school for the first time today. “She has a problem right now around other animals, when they bark she cringes, you can see it right away,” her father said, calling her his hero for making it through the ordeal. “All in all she’s doing awesome.”

“Chopper aggressively bit, attacked and endangered, and inflicted severe injury on a human (the Victim), while on private property,” the city’s code enforcement report “of findings sufficient to justify euthanasia” states. “The attack was unprovoked, as the Victim was conducting herself peacefully and lawfully and was been bitten or attacked by Chopper. Chopper caused physical injuries to the Victim which resulted in multiple bites and disfiguring lacerations requiring sutures or reconstructive surgery.”

Palm Coast’s animal control and code enforcement division routinely handle dog bites and dangerous dog issues. But the departments have been embroiled in an unusually controversial dangerous-dog case since last February, when a dangerous dog called Cooper bit a man in an unprovoked, second attack, leading animal control to issue a euthanasia.

In that case, the dog’s owner has been fighting the order–not because she disputes the dangerous dog designation, or even being separated from the dog (which has been quarantined at the Humane Society since February) but because she wants it sent to a refuge for dangerous dogs rather than killed. The city claims it has no choice but to put the dog to death. The dog’s owner sued in circuit court to stay the execution. That ruling is expected any day, though the judge signaled he was not likely to grant the reprieve.

Palm Coast is rewriting its animal control ordinance, which includes its regulations controlling dangerous dogs. The council is expected to see a draft later this month or early the next.

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15 Responses for “Pit Bull Who Mauled 9-Year-Old Girl Is to Be Put To Death, Palm Coast Rules”

  1. Speak the truth says:

    Pet owners need to be held responsible for their pets they also need to be able to control their pets. This poor little girl went through a very traumatic experience and my heart breaks for her I don’t like to see any animal be put down however maybe you should should be sent to a place where there are dangerous animals and the owner of the dog needs to be charge and pay for all her medical bills. My heart goes out to lotus little girl may you have a speedy recovery Grace

  2. Anonymous says:

    Putting dogs down because on incidents like this is sad. Why can’t we have a place for animals to go for these kind of situations. I understand the death penalty for humans whenever they commit MURDER but come on, animals do not know better..more than likely it’s always the owners. I have a pit bull myself and she is the sweetest dog I’ve ever owned. Not only does she know to be polite, she knows when it is time to go to bed and cuddles up to me whenever it is time to do so with no problems and I know I am waking up without a mauled face.

  3. Richard says:

    All violent dogs should be put down in my opinion. If the owners haven’t spent the time and money to train the dog correctly. Unfortunately most of the time it IS the owners fault as to whether the dog will end up violent or not. Sometimes it is inbred into the breed such as the PIT BULL mix breeds. My son and DIL had rescued pit bulls in the past while living in Alaska and all of them were very questionable at times. They actually had to put one down as they could not reverse the aggressiveness that it came with when they rescued it especially after my first grandchild was born and it was showing its true colors. Now they have purchased Staffordshire Bull Terriers which are trained for Fly-Ball competition and house pets. Alaska Dogs Gone Wild is their Fly-Ball Club which they started many years ago. http://flyballdogs.com/alaska/

  4. James Knowles says:

    There no bad dogs just bad owners

  5. Peaches McGee says:

    The owner should bear all costs regarding this case. Hospital bills, Sheriff Fees, and Animal Control Fees. This poor child will be forever afraid of dogs.

  6. Jolene R Dehart says:

    Richard, the same should go for violent people.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is a breed that has proven to be inherently dangerous and should only be kept under the care of trained professionals, just like how we don’t allow any Tom, Dick, or Harry to keep a bobcat or wolf at as a pet. They were bred for dogfighting, which is a thing of the past.

  8. Anon says:

    “I have a pit bull myself and she is the sweetest dog I’ve ever owned.” yeah that’s what they all say

  9. Diane says:

    What took so long …….

  10. Ling B says:

    Inherently dangerous breed that must be banned. If it truly is only a case of “bad ownership” of said pit bull, then that means that pit bull owners, statistically speaking, are the putridly worst handlers and trainers and owners, ever. That doesn’t pass even the most basic common sense test. The pit bull is bred for blood sport, and bred to quickly initiate an attack and bred to continue that attack until the adversary animal in the fighting pit is incapacitated or dead. It is genetics, DNA. This is proven, tragically, nearly every day in the U.S. The killing ability of the pit bill is proven even dozen days in the U.S., as on average somebody is killed by pit bull ever 12 days in the U.S. Responding law enforcement officers usually require multiple rounds of ammunition to stop a pit bull, as batons, knives (and as found out recently, axes) are often ineffective at stopping a pit bull on the attack.

  11. Haw Creek Girl says:

    This is the fault of the owners & the Humane Society. There are no bad dogs but there are people that shouldn’t own certain breeds without training & education.

  12. Diane says:

    Pit bulls are great dogs ……till there not ……. hope they have lots of insurance…… typically pit bulls are not covered under insurance….. any pet that the insurance companies will not insure should be house pets ! Hope this little child will be ok ….. prayers to the family

  13. Mallyssa Berry says:

    i have a pit.. and 2 small kids.. my pit is 4yrs my kids jump on him chase him around. and he has NEVER EVER attacked them or any friends or family.. he has gone after someone tryin to take stuff out of our yard at night.. and he does protect his family.. when the kids cry hes there.. so NOT ALL PITS ARE BAD and im tired of reading about people who can not handle their pets/family.

  14. Jaclyn says:

    I have 2 pits and two young children there the most loving dogs in the world there not all bad its the owners not the dogs fault.! There nanny dogs meaning they protect there family especially there children! I hate people saying ban the dog what about a poodle or even a german shepherd thoee are aggressive dogs themselves! It takes the right training and affection for these type of dogs.. And obviously if it was in a crate he wasn’t socialized enough and that’s what made this dog mean! If you can’t take care of your dog DONT OWN ONE!

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