Judge Orders Dogs That Killed Seven-Year-Old Be Euthanized After Months-Long Legal Battle

A judge in North Carolina ordered two dogs to be euthanized following an attack in April that killed a seven-year-old girl and severely injured her mother. The two dogs were put down on Monday, WRAL reports.

The attack occurred in Garner, North Carolina in late April when the child, Jayden Henderson, and her mother, Heather Trevaskis, were watching after the two pit bulls while the owners were on vacation. It is unclear whether it was only one or both of the dogs that attacked.

On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier granted Garner town leaders jurisdiction over the matter in a decision he called "common sense." The town ordered the dogs to be euthanized.

The decision comes after months of legal battles between the dog's owner Joseph White and the town of Garner. White argued that the town should not have jurisdiction over the fate of his dogs since they moved to another town.

The nonprofit organization Dogs Bite estimates that approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. A study done by Dogs Bite found that 66 percent of dog bite fatalities from 2005 through 2017 were caused by pit bulls. The data also shows that over 48 percent of dog bite fatality victims were younger than nine years old.

The dogs named Athena, 3, and Blitzen, 8, were immediately placed in the custody of the Wake County Animal Center following the deadly attack in April. White then attempted to order a "dangerous dog" permit that would allow him and his wife to keep their dogs, but it was denied.

Judge Orders 'Dangerous' Dogs Euthanized
A judge in North Carolina ordered two dogs to be euthanized following an attack in April that left a seven-year-old dead and her mother seriously injured. JarnoVerdonk/Getty Images

Just days before a judge was to rule on the fate of the dogs, White posted a 53-minute video to YouTube and launched a campaign to rally support.

"Decide for yourself if these two service dogs are really vicious and if they are such a public safety hazard," White read off a white piece of paper in the video.

In the video, White plays back a recording from his Nest camera that shows Henderson and her mother inside the house on the day of the attack. He highlights a specific 30 seconds of footage where he claims Henderson was left alone with the dogs, sometimes insinuating Henderson's mother was to blame for the attack.

"You can clearly see that this child is afraid of that dog," White said in the video. "She got her hands behind her back, she jumps back, you know this is not a child that has dogs of her own, she does not know how to interact with dogs, she should never have been there."

The video continues with White saying the incident would not have occurred had Henderson's mother not brought her to see the dogs. The parents posted a public statement following the video stating, "we can't begin to address all the false allegations that are being made. The simple fact is, unprovoked, lethal dogs should not return to society to possibly hurt or kill again," WRAL reports.

Supporters of the family launched several internet campaigns, including one to change the way the state deals with dangerous dogs.

Correction- 9/17/21 12:10 PM ET - The original version of this story incorrectly gave the dates of the Dogs Bite study. The correct dates are 2005-2017.