Animal Control Investigates Burnsville Dog Attack

BURNSVILLE (WCCO) — Two Akita dogs in Burnsville are under a 10-day quarantine at their home after one bit two children Sunday.

The 3-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy went to the hospital and are OK, but Savannah and Gregory Shoultz will now have a lasting reminder of their run-in with dogs.

“It felt like the dog bit my skin off,” said Savannah Shoultz.

The children were playing in the backyard when the dog attacked. Gregory was bit on his leg. Savannah was bit on her back. No adults saw it happen.

“She was down on the ground. The dog was on top of her and my ex-husband had to kick the dog to get it off of her,” said Cindy Johnson, their mother.

The dogs’ owner, Chuck Svare, only knows Koda and Pepper as good companions and has had them for years.

“He should have never bitten a little girl. That’s my opinion, but she had to, something was done to provoke it,” said Svare.

“They’ve never had a problem around a dog. They don’t go up and aggravate it in any way,” said Johnson.

Neither dog is up to date with its rabies vaccination. Svare lost his job and couldn’t afford it.

One of his dogs did attack a neighbor dog in the past and because of that, Cindy Johnson wants more than just 10-day quarantine.

“I want them put down. If they have a history of being vicious, I think they should be put down,” she said.

Animal control is still gathering statements and trying to figure out why the dogs bit the kids. If they find that the attack was unprovoked, the dogs would be labeled as dangerous. The owner would then have to buy liability insurance, keep the dogs muzzled off property, and post dangerous dog signs.

The owners also have 14 days to get their dogs vaccinated, which they are planning to do next Tuesday.

More from Rachel Slavik
  • Lori Michalski

    I pray and sure hope the 2 akita dogs who bit the 2 young kids are not put down. This would not only be a tragedy for the dogs but for their owners who from what I could tell on the news are very loved and well taken care of even if the gentleman wasn’t able to afford vaccinations due to a job loss. I’m happy the kids were not seriously hurt. That being said there should be no reason the dogs should be put down unless there would happen to be a medical problem from not being vaccinated in which I highly doubt.
    I had to laugh when the young mother said her kids have never had any problems with a dog or never go up to a dog and aggrevate it in any way. Yah right! First of all at least one of the parents should have been with the kids watching them at all times. This incident probably never would have happened if the kids were being supervised so if the blame should be put on anyone it should be these kids parents.
    I would bet about 99% these kids wanted to pet and play with the dogs but probably not too gentle about it. I’m sure not intentionally but this is a 3 and 6 year old we’re talking about for Pete’s sake.
    I did the same thing when I was 4 and was bitten. I still have a scar on my foot to prove it. I went over to the neighbors and wanted to pet and play with the dog that was tied up. This dog was as friendly as can be but not realizing I wasn’t being gentle the dog bit me. I look back now and this was 100% my fault and not that of the dogs.
    If the 2 akita dogs are put down without a medical reason then this would be unjust and unfair.
    Again I’m happy the kids are fine and it didn’t look like they were too traumatized so my thoughts and prayers are to the dogs and their family.

    Sincerely, from a mother of 2 and dog lover

    • LabOwner

      As an owner of two dogs I realize that children hane no impulse control but to state that the owner has no job cannot afford shots and being home unaware that his Akita was ON TOP of the little girl brings a whole new scenario to mind. A growl or little nip would be a reaction but to be ON TOP of the little girl? This is an attack that has serious consequence. My question is where were the parents and where were the dog owners? ON TOP of the child? Hd to kick the dog to release it? Sorry. This is not a good situation and the warnings are there. Sadly the signs are there.

      • Becky

        I have a dog and love it dearly. I have shown dogs for many years and am very knowledgeable about this dog breed. Akitas are know for not being friendly dogs…so this doesnt surprise me at all. A nip or bite is one thing but being on top of the girl is another thing and should be a warning! What the article doesnt say is where did this take place? Were the kids in the neighbors yard…were the dogs in the kids yard? Any child may aggravate a dog to a point but 99% of dogs are not going to bite…they will get up and walk away! As a dog owner, good times or bad, they still need to be taken care of and have their shots up to date. I have been unemployed since January of last year and my dog is current on her shots. How is this man going to afford to pay for anything for these dogs…and if they bite again who is going to pay the bills. Since he is having financial difficulties he should be even more careful with them. It is like driving and speeding when you know you dont have a license.

  • Magwolf

    Is it wrong I want stupid people who want things killed put down? Not dogs fault maybe you should be a parent and watch your kid hmm? Make sure your kids not instigating a attack. Bet your kid learned to never do that again. Right?

  • BB

    One dog defending its territory against another dog is not a history of being vicious. It is normal animal behavior. If an attack occurs while we are the owners, it is our fault for lack of control over our pets and lack of understanding of an animal’s natural response and temperament. When will we attempt to really understand the animals that share this Earth with us? Children need to be supervised around animals until they understand that animals are not playthings or toys. As a result of this incident, this parent has the perfect opportunity to teach the chilldren that care must be taken around any animal and that certain behaviors by humans may trigger a survival response in an animal-even the most beloved pet. The only way an animal has to indicate its fear or distrust is to use its defense weapons. For a dog, those are facial expressions, defensive postures, barking, and biting. Humans need to learn to read these if we are going to keep them as pets. That includes the owner of these pets. Even though my last dog was small and had never bitten anyone, I always kept close watch over her around new people-babies, children, and adults. I did not let down my guard ever because I did not know in what situation she might find herself with anyone that would cause her to react, and this even after she “proved” that she was always gentle with them. Still, her understanding of what was going on and my understanding of the situation were two different things. Hence, I did what any responsible owner should do. I took command of a situation and guarded both her and humans. This was the most gentle dog on Earth-to me. That is the point. Her response to others may, at some point, have been completely different, so I watched her and kept command. The stages of her life and how she was feeling also dictated how much I needed to be vigilant. She was always gentle to everyone-because I was watching and kept control. I protected her and the humans she interacted with on a daily basis. Even so, if she were hurt or ill, she may very well have bitten me at some point. It would be my job to be aware of that. If the dogs in this case are territorial, then they must be taught where their territory is and is not. However, the owner must then be accutely aware of their behavior and know that the dogs’ response to an incursion into their territory may be to drive away the invasion. In other words, an attack is possible, even probable. The owner must then be vigilant when the dogs’ territory is invaded. If the dogs are in a city setting, it may not be possible to keep dogs that become territorial to that degree. Always, it comes down to doing our best to understand the animals. The fault here is human, not animal.

  • Mary

    I really hope the dogs are not put down. I own a Shiba Inu, a smaller version of the Akita. They are some of the nicest dogs you can have. Usually well-behaved, I would imagine the kids somehow provoked it.

  • Emma

    I have kids and we are constanly around all types of animals from being on a farm. They have been taught how to treat animals. And they are gentle with them.

    I have a three year old daughter that was bit in the face from a dog. We were all standing around watching and visiting with each other. My daughter was petting the dog and put her face down to talk to the dog. Nothing provoked him at all to bite her. She was lucky, because he almost got her eye. There were no warning signs or growling. The dog didn’t get up to move. Nothing. Just bit her. They were at our feet.
    Akitas are big dogs and sometimes they form a pack and attack smaller animals and kids. Which is how this sounds. They sound aggressive and should be put down. If the owner can’t afford shots. How is he going to afford the insurance for dangerous dogs?
    I just how the kids do not develop a fear of dogs. They are wonderful. My German Shepard is wonderful and just loves my kids.

    • BB

      A dog is accutely aware of the alpha position. Alpha is dominant, not even. Even a “docile” cow on a farm will sometimes back a farmer up against a stall. A rooster will spur in defense of its territory. A goat will head butt. A goose will attack-especially the sentries If a dog challenges a cow, the cow will often lower its head and face the dog in opposition to the dog. Many farmers have had their “domesticated” animals act defensively. Again, it is the human who must be aware of these things. Dogs are what they are. Even a loving dog can be provoked.

    • Mel

      Here’s what you missed. Your daughter bent down and put her face down to talk to the dog. Dogs see direct eye-contact as a threat. Children tend to be eye-level already, so add the fact that she was putting her face down in front of his face and possibly making eye-contact with the dog, and the dog reacted as some dogs in a fight or flight situation would do. Given her proximity to the dog, he likely had no chance to give her a warning. If she had been further away, he likely would have given her one.
      That’s why it’s so important that parents understand why kids and dogs don’t always mix. I am sorry for your daughter’s dog bite. I can’t imagine how awful that must have been for you and the dog owner.

  • Susanna Anderson

    You all have no idea. You’re telling me that a child that doesn’t know any better deserves to be attacked by a dog. These are LITTLE kids. They should be put down. Once they start “fighting” or attacking, they have no control over it. It will happen again. The woman who have children, I am ashamed of you. I seriously hope that your child never gets bit by a dog. You might choose the dog over them.

  • MZ

    DUH??? Akitas were bred to be guard dogs for centuries, and now you’re surprised that they bit somebody? Shame on the owner for not confining the dogs when having visitors, and shame on the parents for allowing their children to play with dogs bred to attack and protect .
    Just plain stupid all the way around.

  • Patrick

    Children and a poorly socialized dog are rarely a good combination. Neither understands the other and the dog assumes a threat.The dog may have also been attempting to “correct’ the children and establish pack order. The article does not seem to explain how the children and the dog came in contact. Somebody dropped the ball. The video explains that no one saw the attack begin so there is no way to know what happened. The dogs deserve the benefit of the doubt in that case. The kids seem to be doing good and don’t appear traumatized in any way. That’s good news. Hope the dogs end up ok too.

  • trl

    those dogs should be removed from all potential contact with other people especially kids…..they have clearly demonstrated their potential. For those peolpe blaming the kids they are just morons who are probably freinds or related to the loser who owns the dogs. He owns two dogs but cant afford to vaccinate them?…..what a loser.

  • Jacqueline Bettenhausen

    These children are my niece and nephew. I hope to God that whoever thinks the dogs should not be put down, this does not happen to your relatives. These kids were helpless. I was at the kids house when they came back home last Sunday. As Savanna told her story to me I cried and just held her. I cry now bc I am back home in IL and read that all you people with nasty comments on here. Ya know where I think you can go? Justice will prevail for my little sister and her babies along with thier daddy. I can’t wait for it to happen. Thank you Wcco for airing the story.

    • Becky

      I am glad to hear they are all right!

  • Kamie Turpin

    First of all, those of you that say this was “unprovoked” don’t know much about dog social behavior, NOT that in ANY way did these kids INTENTIONALLY do anything wrong, but most postures and gestures that a canine sees as threatening are the very things that children do most, Emma, you state that you were all around and she did nothing to provoke, one of the most threatening thing you can do is come down to a dogs head or neck, especially with a face, to them you are attacking them, and no, there’s no warning, they are quickly defending themselves. Children stare at dogs, which is a blatant THREAT in the dogs mind, and they squeal and run like prey, children NEED to be educated about dogs, not all dogs are social with people either, Akita’s are a one family dog, a lot of times a one PERSON dog, they aren’t people social, they only want their person/family. So if they are approached by a stranger they are immediately going to be on guard anyway.
    I’m not in ANY way saying this was ok, it’s not, but there were a multitude of failures here, and NONE of those failures are on the dogs. Bottom line, neither the children or the dogs should have been free/unattended to have been together. These dogs are not vicious, anyone that has seen an actual “aggressive” attack vs. a “defensive” attack would see, if they were wanting to “kill” those children, they would have done a LOT of damage very quickly, they were probably just putting them to the ground in defense. These dogs do not need to be destroyed, they just need to be monitored as any “protective” breed needs to. They are through and through a guard dog.
    I pray for all parties here, especially the children, and I hope this is a good wake up call to a lot people to educate their children about dogs and proper etiquette around them. You can’t undo the instincts of an animal, you CAN educate children.
    And for the record, no I don’t own an Akita, I am a dog trainer/ lover and have 4 children, and I have American Pit Bull Terriers, There are no bad dogs, just uneducated dog owners.

    • Mel

      SO AGREE!

  • Rebecca

    I was bitten 3 times as a child and I know I did nothing to provoke any of the dogs. That statement is not a blanket truth about why dogs attack. Educate yourselves, please. Secondly, to the people who think children should be trained on how to be around dogs. Maybe you should rally for it to be taught in public schools because not all parents are familiar with animals and their behavior to know the proper way to act around them, especially if they have allergies and can’t be around them. How exactly are they suppose to learn how if it’s not taught, generally? Be realistic about your comments. The truth is, these children were hurt! Children should NEVER, EVER deserve to be hurt!! People are first priority, ALWAYS. I pray for justice for Cindy and her children and I pray for speedy healing of mind and body for the children. I own 2 dogs myself and I take full responsibilty for them at all times. All owners should do the same.

  • Slash

    Animals are animals and pets are pets. If a kid annoys another kid or person or if kid or person feels annoyed by another person, they yell. Dogs can’t yell, they bite. Sounds like these dogs were off leash. I don’t think these dogs should be put down. If anything, the owner should be fined and find new homes for these beautiful man’s best friends.

  • Lori O.

    I own an Akita and a lab. I can’t tell you how many times I will be walking my dogs and children see us and RUN up to my dogs screaming and yelling to pet them. More often than not, the parents are right there watching and smiling like morons because they think this is cute. Whenever this happens I have to tell the children to stop and back away. Why must I be in charge of other peoples children? My job is to be in charge of my dogs. My Akita is 100 lbs and the Lab is 80. Why on earth would you let a child go running up to dogs of that size? Or any size for that matter? Parents need to take charge of their children. Dogs CAN be dangerous if they feel threatened.

    I think this story sadly reflects on the lack of parenting going on today. Not only with supervision of children around dogs, but supervision and discipline in general. Kids are running amuck today, getting involved in business they have no skills to handle. Parents, grow up so your kids can.

    • Jan Schulze Hinger

      I know exactly what you mean. When we had our Rotts the neighbor kids would just come running down the street to pet them. We would have to yell at them to stop and return home, if we didn’t yell they wouldn’t listen. I find it very uncaring of parents, who let their kids run up to a strange dog, and expect the owner and or dog to react with a welcome. I do not allow anyone to touch my dogs unless I know them personally, I have 2 German Shepherds now. How do we know that whoever wants to pet our furkids knows anything at all about behavor around animals?? I would rather not have a situation come up then try to stop one from taking place. Makes me want to teach the parents that not all pets like children.

    • Mel

      I ould not agree with you more. I wrote about this very thing on my blog: Parents/Dog Owners:The Most Important Thing You Can Do When It Comes To Kids And Dogs
      As a dog walker, I cannot tell you how many times I have had to tell a child to “Stop” before they get to me and a client’s dog. I have had to do it at the animal shelter too.
      Parents may not know all the cues a dog gives, but preventing a child from running up to a strange dog is one thing they can do.

  • JB

    The children were with thier daddy. Thier mom was not with them. Thier daddy was told 4 times the dogs would not harm the the children. I do still know he should not have left them alone with the dogs. The owners should have put the dogs away while the kids were there.

    • EB

      Interesting, the part about the father being told about the dogs not harming the children isn’t in the story… Buyest much? Again, we don’t know how the dogs and children ended up outside together. Regardless, it should not have happened if all parties acted responsibly. Who are we to say who’s fault it is. That is up to animal control.

      I’m glad the father was their to protect the kids at a moment where the dogs could have killed the child or both children. It’s very sad the better communication between the Dog owner and Parent weren’t made as this might have been avoided.

  • E.H.

    Dogs should not be penalized for being alone with children. Children play too rough with dogs and even the most gentle, caring, loving pet will defend their territory when needed. People must remember that dogs are not stuffed animals and children NEED to be supervised while around them. Also about the dogs attacking another dog, once again dogs are not human and they will guard their territory. I am a proud owner of a pit bull and have never had a problem with her because I am beyond responsible with her, meaning, she is always kept on a leash and I will never put her in dangerous situation or situations that can become dangerous. People should remember that WE protect our animals and are responsible for them. This sounds like another case of an irresponible dog owner! KILLING DOGS IS NOT THE ANSWER!! PUT YOUR PETS UP FOR ADOPTION TO A HOME THAT CAN CARE FOR THEM, MAYBE A HOME WITHOUT CHILDREN

  • Trayce Olsen

    You DO NOT LEAVE YOUNG CHILDREN ALONE WITH A DOS(s)..Its recipe for problems..I do think the mother is over reacting a bit–if the dog wanted to do damage believe me the dogs would have had the seriously injured or dead..It sounds like maybe some kids aren’t telling the whole truth to the incident to avoid punishment for harassing the dogs–hummm? If the father kicked the dog what does he do with his kids for misbehaving—hummmm! I’m not saying this isn’t serious incident but, thereare some unanswered questions..The whole incident could of been avoided if the ADULTS would have taken precautions..

    • EB

      Seriously? You’re implying that because a Father Protected his children that He may be abusive towards his Children? That is the saddest response I’ve seen and wihtout merit of any kind. Unless you know the parties personally, that is quite the underhanded claim.

    • K Johnson

      what would you do if a dog was attacking your kid?? Praise it and pet its head?? The father has been my best friend for years and has never once acted violently toward anything or anyone. If it were me, I would of slit the dogs throat right then and there. I was there when it happened. Get your facts straight and think before you speak

  • EB

    Unfortunately there is KEY information missing here. First, we don’t know how the Dogs and Children ended up outside together. That may shed some light where responsibility falls. Without knowing that information, One might assign 50/50 blame on the Parent that was around at the time and the Dog Owner.

    That said, is the attack was unprovoked, that may inidicate a viscious or dangerous animal. When the parent has to kick the dog off, something went wrong. Again, missing some backround. Further to the point of the Dogs being put down, that is an option to the victims to potentially stop future attacks by the animals.

    I’m not for ending life of anything including dogs, however, I believe that the Safety of human life should be protected. If that mean putting down a “viscious” animal, then sadly, that may be the case. Perhaps animal control and the parties involved could figure this out in a civil fashion and maybe the dogs don’t have to be put down. No Easy anser here.

  • Trayce

    EB I’m not implying anything…I think the main problem here is the 3yr old and the 6 yr old were ALONE in the yard with the dogs (the dogs yard) and shouldn’t of been..To spell out my opinion–1–the KIDS SHOULD NOT OF BEEN UNATTENDED IN THE YARD—2–the dogs should of been put in another are to avoid something like this happening..3–MAYBE, the kicking of the dog to get it off the kid—why not grab it by its collar?? Possibly, fear and guilt took over I don’t know–
    If it was me in that situation–the kids would have been attended too..
    No I do not think it was the dogs fault–and they should NOT be killed.
    For me or anyone to imply someone as an abuser they would need to have PROOF of some kind…
    When its a case of dogs–kids and adults watching the kids and dogs–THE BLAME GOES TO THE ADULTS in my opinion.
    Its a very sad situation.

  • EB

    ” If the father kicked the dog what does he do with his kids for misbehaving—hummmm”

    Did you not say this in your post above?

    If I find a Dog of any kind biting a small child while pinned to the ground, I might try to avoid the Leash so I don’t get attackd myself. Albeit there’s no easy was to handle it, but the man’s kid’s come first in my opinion.

  • Trayce

    EB it was just another way of looking at animal abuse–and kicking a dog or a kid is abuse…I am assuming, of course, the dogs had collars on–where was the owner when this was taking place–I’m afraid there are many unanswered questions and ASSUMPTIONS–But for now we are a FREE country and we are allowed to have our own thoughts (right or wrong)—You will agree with that won’t you??

  • Trayce

    By the way EB if the father was watching the kids –that means in the yard WITH THE KIDS AND DOGS–he would not of had to protect them from anything–Where was the dogs owner(s) at the the time?? Your making me THINK EB and I just want to watch the snow and play on my puter… Have a great day and write me anytime EB…

    • EB

      About the father and owner; Accident or poor judgement, or maybe the dogs got out on their own? who knows?

      My Intent and as such my goal is to get folks thinking about all aspects from a logical standpoint. The facts known to us don’t complete the story. On the other hand, this situation has caused Parents and Pet Owners alike to consider their role in such social settings.

      It is my belief that failure to view all points will result in an imbalance of social responsibility.

  • nick

    Ok here is the situation… these are my two dogs. Me and my dad were up north hunting while my step sister, who wasn’t even suppose to be at my house, was supposedly watching these two kids in my backyard. She is unfit to be watching kids and to my knowledge these kids were really hyper. My dogs have never bit anyone before so these kids must have done something to them. They are loving dogs and don’t deserve to be put down. Just because their parents can’t watch there kids sufficient enough doesn’t mean my dogs should be put down. This greatly sadens me and angers me that this lady is pushing for them to be put down. Maybe lady, next time, keep an eye on your kids when they are near big animals, just a thought. I love my dogs and they are great companions and you came into my backyard knowing we had them so visit at ur own risk. I’m sure koda was playing around with them as well. I heard the injuries weren’t bad at all. He probably took a nip at them at most. He is a big teddy bear. But I’m sorry for all of this but this situation is a crappy one to be in especially since it could have been avoided. Please don’t put down my dogs!!

  • K Johnson

    First off, all you happy suburbanite degenerates who sit around with your perfect little children, I advise you to let your children play gently with a bear, as they can be nice as well. Dogs are animals and can turn in a matter of a split second. of course the owner is going to say his dogs are perfect. He wasn’t even home when it happened. He was hunting in Detroit Lakes. As for you people judging the parents.. it must be nice to be able to hover over your kids every second of every day. The lady who co owns the dogs kept reassuring that the dogs were nice and gentle. So hearing that from an owner, you let your guard down a little. Although, come to find out later on in the aftermath that the same dog that bit the girl, escaped once before and ate the rear out of a beagle to the tune of $1600. As far as the living conditions of the dogs.. they were horrid. These people do not deserve to take care of another living being. The dogs were locked in the garage year round, with a little bed made out of hay, and had a very small running area in the back yard. So to all you judgemental suburbanite freaks with your perfect happy little lives and your perfect little children… here is me being judgemental toward you… learn to get your facts straight before slandering or commenting.. no one cares what you say.. sincerely,, a witness to the event

    • Trayce

      First off Johnson–I raised the kids in North Minneapolis —couldn’t afford the suburbs—second, the information given was brief and AGAIN I’m saying why didn’t anyone put the damn dogs away for the hour or two while the visitors stayed?? Hindsight one thinks of all the shudda–cudda things that were not done..I’ve been around alot of animals–the meanest was chihuhaha and I won’t let her around kids because of her attitude.. The best dogs I’v been around are Pits and Rotties….I’m sorry for your experience with your kids and dogs and I hope only for the best for all concerned in this matter…Accept my half-assed apology for being human and concerned about those who can’t talk for themselves…

  • K Johnson

    The kids were not alone in the yard. There were 4 adults including myself when this occurred. But when a child is petting, what we thought, a nice dog, then the dog pounces on the child with no warning. Reaction time takes a split second and for us to run the 3 feet to the child, who was running the other way away from us to escape the dog, the dog had already done the damage. You people amaze me. Don’t judge my best friend for kicking the dog.. what would you of done if some scraggly looking dog was mauling your 3 year old.. looking back now.. I should of had my buck knife on me and slit the dogs throat right then and there.. if this would of been one of your children you would be singing a different tune.

    • Trayce

      My hopefully, last words on this subject……NEVER EVER LEAVE A CHILD ALONE WITH A DOG ESPECIALLY ONE YOU DON’T KNOW…I HAD A CHUNK OF THE SIDE OF MY FACE BIT BY A WELL CARED FOR SPRINGER so, you don’t know what the the dog is feeling that day…I carried a Dalmation back to his owner’s house by its collar for cornering my niece in HER backyard…Yes, temper sometimes prevails when it comes to love ones..

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