Rescued Pit Bull Kills Owner, 87, As He Takes Down Christmas Tree, Dog Euthanized

Amy Schaeffer

Eugene Smith, 87, was taking down his Christmas Tree today in his Frederick County, Maryland, home when his pet pit bull attacked him, according to officials. The Frederick County Bureau of Investigations is still investigating the attack, which ended in death. Smith was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Around 2:30 pm today, the Frederick County Sheriff's Department, Maryland State Police, and Frederick County Animal Control were called to the home. When they arrived, the dog was still mauling Smith. They were able to get the dog off the victim, but it was too late.

At the time of the attack, the elderly man was laying on the ground, taking down the Christmas tree. Smith lived with his son and his son's fiancé. The only other person home at the time of the attack was the son's fiancé.

The pit bull was a rescue dog that had been adopted by Smith in May 2014. It is unknown if the dog had displayed violent tendencies before. The attack was completely unprovoked and the 84 pound dog did not stop attacking the victim until several authorities were able to contain him.

Officials stated that Smith's injuries were immediate and severe and he was pronounced dead upon arrival at Frederick Memorial Hospital. The Frederick County Animal Control seized the dog and immediately euthanized him. The investigation is ongoing.

Pit bulls have long been under social media attack themselves, but are they more likely than other dogs to attack their owners?

According to Opposing Views, pit bulls are more than six times as likely to attack their owner as any other breed. Pit disloyalty phenomenon (PDP) has been known by the Dog Lobby for almost 25 years -- the HSUS first published an article analyzing Pit attacks in 1987, according to Opposing Views.

"Out of 143 Pit Bull attacks, 19 (13.3%) involved attacks on the owners; out of 135 attacks by other breeds' only 3 (2.2%) involved the owner."

Journal Times says pit bulls are not more aggressive than other dogs and can, in fact, be wonderful additions to families that include children.

Many people and towns and don't buy it, though, and there have been many towns that have both successfully and unsuccessfully called for a ban on pit bulls.

Readers, what are your thoughts about pit bulls?