Specialist believes fatal mauling is not as simple as good dog, bad dog

A fatal dog attack in Asheville almost a year ago involved a woman who was home-breeding types of canines that can we...

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 5:43 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 5:43 PM

A fatal dog attack in Asheville almost a year ago involved a woman who was home-breeding types of canines that can weigh more than 200 pounds.

There were eight dogs there when she was attacked.

Jane Egle, 59, was found unresponsive, lying on the floor of her home on May 1, 2017. When first-responders tried to get to her, an aggressive dog would not allow them inside. They tazed the animal, which turned out to be the one that killed her.

It was a boerboel, a South African mastiff. They are very large and powerful dogs, originally bred for working farms and guarding property.

Something went wrong at Egle's home that day. For some reason, one of the dogs attacked. She was there alone when it happened, so there are only theories about what might have led to the attack.

Autopsy results just released show the 110-pound woman was literally overwhelmed by a dog weighing twice as much as her.

There were multiple penetrating and blunt force injuries, consistent with canine bites. Lacerations and puncture wounds were found on her head, neck, chest and abdomen.

Seven other dogs were recovered from the home. All but a puppy had to be euthanized.

Asheville dog behavioral specialist Kim Brophey helped make that evaluation.

"It's not the kind of thing that we normally see. I've been doing this for 20 years, and, honestly, it was the most threatening, aggressive that I've witnessed," Brophey said.

Brophey believes the fact that Egle had a group of viable breeding dogs living in the same space was a contributing factor to the attack, that Egle likely became caught in the middle of aggressive behavior.

Experts said that situation, being around the pack, can be risky for the person. In this case, it was fatal.

"Genetics are a part of a dog's behavior, they are not predictive of a dog's behavior," Brophey said. "Something happened that day, that none of us can know, that somehow awakened the genetic software of an altercation.

"We need to get honest and realistic about the big picture, which isn't just genetics and it isn't just how you raise them," Brophey said.

Among the many aspects of Brophey's new book, "Meet Your Dog," is a concept called LEGS -- learning, environment, genetics and self. It's practiced at places like the Canine Social Club in Asheville, where employees work with clients and their dogs so that animals and humans adjust and understand each other's needs.

Brophey believes there is no other way to make it work, to co-exist with creatures that were once bred and used to do certain jobs and are now seen only as pets.

"If we don't start looking at them as the complex dynamic creatures that they are, we're going to continue to beat our head against wall and experience these types of tragedies and fail to understand why," Brophey said.

Brophey believes the the simple good breed, bad breed concept is not the way to approach the situation, that there's much to be learned by all people who love their pets.

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