Coral Springs Woman Killed by Her Own Dog

No law in Coral Springs Against Ownership of Dangerous Dogs
Coral Springs FL, August 18, 2006:  

A woman died Friday afternoon after she was attacked by her dog while giving it a bath in the backyard of her home.


At around 3:25 p.m. Coral Springs police received a call that a woman was being bitten by a dog at her residence in the 9300 block of NW 39 Ct.  The woman’s young daughter ran to a neighbor’s house saying her mother was being bitten by the family dog.  The neighbor called police and two officers were sent to the house.  The officers were confronted by the dog, a breed known as a Presa Canario, who was standing near the woman’s body in the backyard.  When the dog became aggressive towards the officers they shot at the dog killing it.  Neither of the officers were injured. A typical picture of the bread is shown on the right. The woman, Shawna L. Willey, 30, of Coral Springs, was pronounced dead at the scene.  It is unknown at this time why the dog attacked Willey.


In Coral Springs, there are no city ordinances which prohibit the ownership of any specific bread of dog. Instead, there are laws governing vicious dogs in so far as they have been trained in a certain way to be vicious.  As well, anyone owning a guard dog or dogs trained specifically for protection must have a sign on their property warning people of the danger.  The rules and regulations governing animals in Coral Springs is found in Chapter 4 Animal Control of the City of Coral Springs Ordinances.  ( Click Here for the law)


Miami Pit Bull Law
It is illegal in Miami-Dade County to own any dog which substantially conforms to a pit bull breed dog, unless it was specially registered with Miami-Dade County prior to 1989. Acquisition or keeping of a pit bull dog: $500.00 fine and County Court action to force the removal of the animal from Miami-Dade County. ONLY an Animal Services Investigator trained in pit bull identification will determine if the dog conforms to pit bull breed standards.

In Miami, there is a Pit Bull Law that prohibits the ownership of any of this type of breed. As well, several cities around the country have similar laws, including Denver, where in 1989 a child was killed by 3 of them.  These laws are under constant attack by dog owners challenging the constitutionality of them.  Each year more than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs, and 800,000 require some sort of medical treatment. However, fatalities are quite low,  at around 20 last year.


Facts about the Presa Canario,

The Presa Canario, or Canary Dog, are a fierce smooth coated dog that was developed on the Canary Islands in the 19th Century. They were bread for one purpose : Fighting, since at that time the popularity of having dogs fight was one in which the population had enjoyed as a betting sport. They were near extinction in the last 100 years but became popular once more as people wanted a more aggressive bread for protection.

They became popular in San Francisco in 2001 when a Presa Canario mauled and killed a women. Sales rocketed in that area as police became concerned that this animal would be used by criminals as a killer canine dog. People even refer to this bread as a Pit Bull on Steroids. Arrested for the killings were the owners of the dog and were convicted

However, according to the Humane Society of America, the bread of the dog is really not the factor. In fact, they believe that it is the way in which the dog is trained that is the main root cause of a vicious attack. This theory was reinforced when the owners and trainers of the Presa Canario that killed the San Francisco woman in 2001 where arrested and convicted for her death. At that time the HSUS vice President, Dr. Lockwood, who worked closely with the prosecutors made the following comments of the verdict:

“This verdict sends a powerful message that the kind of violent dog aggression that ended Diane Whipple’s life is ultimately the end result of grossly irresponsible human behavior—and that people will be held accountable for the kind of violence they encourage or allow in animals that should be our trusted friends and companions,”

“Although fatal dog attacks are rare, they tragically highlight the failure to properly raise, train, socialize, or supervise dogs, which contributes to the millions of less severs bites that occur each year,” Lockwood said. “Dog bites hurt everyone, not just the victim. They create an atmosphere of fear and distrust of dogs that impacts even the most responsible owners of the most well behaved animals. It is important to continue to demonstrate that people must take responsibility for the animals that share our lives.”

It will be interesting to follow the developments of the city of Coral Springs detectives, and if anyone will be charged in this tragic killing.



Your Comments:

Just an idea as to maybe why the dog attacked her. I hose down my dog’s almost everyday after swimming in the pool. The water is literally scalding hot when it first comes out of the hose. I have rinsed myself off as well and I have to wait a couple of minutes to let it cool down. Perhaps, she didn’t wait? Very Sad! –   Brigitte Fairclough, Coral Springs


I am appalled at the lack of responsibility that you show to your writing. This is a serious case and you have basically just handed any half-literate goon a rock to throw at the first big brindle dog they see. You have a level of responsibility when you write to give the WHOLE truth, something you grossly neglected with this article. You failed to mention that there only a VERY few cases where these dogs have seriously injured anyone. You neglected to mention that the dogs involved in the murder of Diane Whipple had in fact been neglected and been intended to be used as breed dogs for a felon behind bars to begin a kennel of fighting dogs. You also neglected to mention that several people discussed the dogs as being dangerous for quite awhile before her attack. It is NOT the breeds fault that there are people who are as irresponsible with their pets as you are with your words. You clearly do not know much about the breed. They have a VERY long and historical, even mythical, background dating WAY before the 1900’s. I stumbled upon your article when looking for research for a speech I was giving. Sadly it appears as if you didn’t bother to do nearly as much research as I did or you wouldn’t have written such a slanted article. Feel free to contact me if you would like to see many pictures of my presas playing with cats, small dogs, and children from all over. They were properly socialized and will be achieving their Canine Good Citizenship awards. It is people like you spewing info in an remedial article that have made it eminent that hundreds of thousands of dogs are killed do to ignorance. Chows, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and now Presa Canarios…Thank you in advance for the prejudice my family will face in part due to your uneducated words streaming through open media. Free speech is great, but with it there should also be some ethics.    – PFC Laughner


Author: HelpMeHoward