For Jayden

July 2021

Losing a child is the greatest hurt in the world. Circumstances of a broken world take all kinds of tolls on children. Childhood cancer and other diseases, like Covid-19, take our children. Accidents in automobiles, on playgrounds, on bikes, in swimming pools, take our children. Guns in wrong hands take our children. Even childhood suicide takes our children. Nothing comforts our loss; we never get over it. We only hope to come through it somehow. Jesus and therapy and time help.

But senseless loss of a child’s life to dangerous dogs is tragedy beyond the human capacity to comprehend. Why would anybody own dangerous dogs? Or dangerous animals of any kind for that matter?

I need to say that I am a dog lover. I have had dogs for most of my life and currently own two. Even good dogs can do bad things. Dogs, as much as we love them, are animals. Whoa. I am too. There are survival instincts not to be confused with aggression. And when aggression is coupled with anger and great strength, that is when dogs and people get into trouble. 

Jayden was seven years old. Snaggle toothed. In her living room there was a toy shelf with farm animals, cars and truck, and tea sets. Just right for a little girl. Her parents had just moved to this new house, and a party was held for Daddy’s birthday in the new house. We were invited because we knew Dave and Heather from their work on Tom’s TV show. Directors and Master Control Operators make TV magic happen behind the scenes. This was the last time we saw Jayden.

On April 27, 2021, Jayden and her Mom, Heather, were in their neighbor’s backyard caring for the two dogs as they had been asked to do. Who knows what the trigger was that the dogs began to attack Jayden. As one who has had two dogs viciously attacked for no apparent reason, triggers may be hidden. And triggers are not likely trained out of a dog.

Heather – even in her fiercest “Mama Bear” mode – was not strong enough to pull the dogs away from Jayden. Heather got mauled in the attack too, so badly that even now… three months later, she cannot feed herself or open the car door. Unimaginable, unexpected trauma. Unthinkable, inconceivable loss. In just a few awful minutes a precious child was mauled to death and her mother left severely injured and forever broken hearted. 

Adding insult to injury and to the gravity of this loss is the dog-owners’ fight to keep these dangerous dogs alive and in their home. All kinds of maneuvering, a law suit, a threatened move with the dogs to another county is raising the suspicion and fear of others to the point that Franklin County Commissioners passed a law that no dogs that have killed will be allowed in the county (where the dog owners planned to move). Dogs that have killed people will be taken and euthanized. Seems like a common-sense law to me.

It also seems common sense to me that dogs who attack… people and other dogs – should be registered on a dangerous dog registry and clearly identified in the community in which they live. We do this for sexual predators; predatory dogs should not have more license than other predators. (Since I first wrote this blog, a story of another attack by dangerous dogs is in the news. It happens more often than we realize.)

I am not singling out specific breeds of dogs; I think any large, strong dog could be dangerous in the wrong hands. There is so much that happens around us that is beyond our control. I think simple laws around dangerous dogs could help save another life, even if not Jayden’s. There is an online petition circulating to address this problem with lawmakers at every level. We may not be able to get a state law – too slow and not politically expedient. But maybe at county and city levels, laws can change so that people who make bad choices about keeping dangerous dogs will be called out. Jayden’s law needs to be on somebody’s books. 

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