Jun 27, 2009 Pit Bulls Fatally Maul 3 year old Boy Johnston City

Johnston City is a small town of 3,557 people (2010 census) in southern Illinois. In September 2007, the Johnston City Council passed a pit bull ban. The council was responding to some recent pit bull attacks and were confident the ban would successfully protect the citizens of Johnston City from continued pit bull attacks.
RIP Gabrial Mandrell-Sauerhage

Jim Mills, who had his dog torn out of his hands and killed by a pit bull and had a finger torn off fighting off the pit bull in the same attack, supported the ban.

The fire chief supported the ban. "I think it's a great thing, the ordinance it protects us, it protects everyone else who has to go into a house or yard. We need the protection because we don't know what we're walking into when we get to most emergency calls," he said.

A non-resident pit  bull advocate who opposed the ban said that it was unfair to pit bulls.

Nine days after the ban was announced Ledy VanKavage issued a statement that the Johnston City's ordinance was illegal. VanKavage herself crafted the ban on breed bans that took vital decision making powers out of the hands of the local elected government.

Less than two years later, 3 year old Gabrial Mandrell-Sauerhage was killed by pit bulls in same small town of Johnston City.

While it can't be known if Gabrial's death would have been prevented by a pit bull ban, it is clear that the town's elected leaders did correctly identify pit bulls as the specific threat to their community and that a pit bull ban only could have improved Gabrial's chances of survival.

The perceived "unfairness" to pit bulls pales in the face of a child's death.

This tragic series of events demonstrates with crystalline clarity that localities must be free to address local safety issues to protect their citizens. The statewide ban on BSL obviously doesn't protect children. It doesn't even protect pit bulls. It ONLY protects pit bull owners and breeders.


Johnston City - Three dogs apparently involved in the death of a 3-year-old Johnston City boy were euthanized at 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to Williamson County Sheriff Tom Cundiff.

Williamson County Coroner Mike "Junior" Burke previously said the child sustained a number of dog bites, but one specific bite caused him to hemorrhage.

The couple had three dogs, two pit bull mixes and a collie mix.

The release went on to state that Gabrial suffered at least one bite that would have made "yelling impossible."

Read more:
The Southern - Johnston City vicious dog ordinance to take effect
Accessed: 2011-12-28. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64GEvqEfQ)
The Southern - ASPCA says vicious dog ordinance violates law
Accessed: 2011-12-28. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64GEzPmbX)
The Southern - Officials continue to investigate fatal dog attack in Johnston City
Accessed: 2011-12-28. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64GF3wuBN)
My Suburban Life  Accessed: 2012-01-25. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64xvSXMAj)