Fact Check

Stray Pit Bull Saves a Woman and Child from Attacker

A stray pit bull saved a woman by chasing off a knife-wielding attacker?

Published Mar 14, 2012


Claim:   A stray pit bull saved a woman by chasing off a knife-wielding attacker.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2012]

Angela was leaving the playground in Port Charlotte with her two year old son, when something unimaginable happened. An unknown man attacked them at knifepoint.

When most people see a stray Pit Bull running around, they get nervous, and even scared. Although on this day, he was Angela's guardian angel. A 65 pound male pit bull charged the man and drove him off.

"I don't think the dog physically attacked the man, but he went at him and was showing signs of aggression, just baring his teeth and growling and barking. It was clear he was trying to defend this woman," Animal Control Lt. Brian Jones told Pet Pulse.

The remarkable part of this story is this dog had never seen Angela before, and selflessly defended them. The dog probably saved their lives.

After the man ran away, Angela grabbed her child and ran to get in the car to drive away, when the dog jumped into the backseat. They then waited for police.

Angela says if the dog's owners do not come forward to take him home, they will be adopting him. Angela calls him their "angel", which will be his name if they are able to adopt him. Sometimes these stories get lost in the mix, I thought this was a wonderful dog and wanted to share this story with you. I hope you get the warm, fuzzy feeling I get when reading this. Animals are amazing.


Origins:   This story of a Florida woman and her two-year-old son's being saved by a stray pit bull who chased off a knife-wielding attacker has been reproduced in various forms on many Internet sites over the last several years. The original appears to have been a 5 November 2008 Pet Pulse report which provides more detail than is commonly found in subsequent reproductions:

ORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The wandering 65-pound Pit Bull mix might have seemed menacing to some passerby, but one woman will always remember him as her "guardian angel."

The dog, which authorities think is lost and not a stray, successfully thwarted a robbery attack on a mother and her 2-year-old son, who were held at knifepoint.

The Florida woman, who has been identified by authorities simply as "Angela," was leaving a playground with her toddler son in Port Charlotte when a man approached her in the parking lot with a knife and told her not to make any noise or sudden movements.

Angela didn't have to do either to protect herself and her child — a dog mysteriously ran to the scene and charged the man, who quickly fled.

"I don't think the dog physically attacked the man, but he went at him and was showing signs of aggression, just baring his teeth and growling and barking. It was clear he was trying to defend this woman," Animal Control Lt. Brian Jones told Pet Pulse.

"I don't know what this man's intentions were, but it is very possible this dog saved her life."

The exceptional part of the story, Jones said, is that the dog had never met or even seen the people it quickly jumped to defend.

"You hear about family dogs protecting their owners, but this dog had nothing to do with this woman or her kid," Jones said. "He was like her guardian angel."

After the alleged thief ran away, Angela quickly placed her son, Jordan, in the car and tried to drive off. Before she could, though, the dog jumped into her backseat, waiting with her for the police and animal control officers to arrive at the scene.

The dog was transported to a local shelter and if his owners don't step forward within five days, Jones said, Angela and her family plan to adopt the savior she named "Angel."

Animal control officers and shelter workers believe Angel is lost, and not a stray, because of his good health, sturdy weight and mild temperament.

"It's funny, that someone's irresponsibility could have saved someone's life," Jones said of Angel's possible owners.

For Angela, it doesn't matter where the dog came from, just that he was there when she needed him most.

"I don't know what his [the thief's] intentions were — I don't know why he did it, but I'm glad that — we call him Angel — I'm glad that Angel showed up because I don't know what would have happened," Angela told NBC2 News.

For a small town with a population of 46,452, animal control officers were kept busy Monday afternoon. Jones says they department also responded to a report about a boa constrictor in a church parking lot.

The snake found its way into a car engine and was able to be removed without being harmed. It took three people to move the massive, seemingly random placed snake.

"It's funny, because we aren't a big place," he said of the Gulf Coast town. "And we can go for four or five months without the media contacting us about a story. It's been a busy week."

Officers from the responding county sheriff's office canvased the area and were unable to locate the suspect described as being in his 20s, tall and dark haired.

Although it is apparently beyond dispute that "Angela" did report to police that she had been attacked by a knife-wielding assailant who was driven away by a stray pit bull, and that she did turn a pit bull over to authorities, there is no way to independently verify her story, as no one other than her toddler was present to witness the alleged assault, and the police never turned up a suspect.

Some critics have expressed skepticism at the notion of a stray pit bull's fortuitously arriving at the scene of a crime and driving away an attacker to protect a stranger and then conveniently hopping into that stranger's car and patiently waiting with her for the arrival of authorities, suggesting that the scenario sounds more indicative of a woman scheming to get rid of her pet dog. When Angel the pit bull was subsequently transferred to Midwest Animal Rescue (MARS) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to undergo a course of treatment for heartworms and find placement in a new home, officials there expressed similar skepticism about the pit bull's back story:

Angel's ordeal began Nov. 3, when a woman claimed that a man grabbed her and held a knife to her throat as she and her toddler tried to leave Higgs Park in Port Charlotte. She told police that the 69-pound pit bull mix came out of the nearby woods and scared off the attacker.

The dog then jumped into her car before she drove home. Charlotte County Sheriff's Office spokesman Bob Carpenter said deputies never found the attacker. The dog was later taken to Charlotte County Animal Control.

Animal rescuers at MARS saw Pet Pulse's Nov. 5 article about Angel and were immediately skeptical about the alleged victim's story. The dog would not protect someone it did not know, they believed.

Angel's docile nature offered further indication that he would not have charged the alleged attacker, as the victim in the Florida incident had claimed.

They can't prove it, but MARS rescuers still believe that the attack never happened and that the incident was a ruse so the woman could dump her dog, perhaps hoping a hero would stand a better chance of finding a new home.

According to MARS, Angel was put down on 8 March 2009 due to complications from heartworms:

Angel, a beautiful, happy, loving American Bulldog was taken on his final walk across the rainbow bridge on Sunday March 8, 2009. Unfortunate complications led to this very difficult decision. He was such a great boy! He dearly loved his family and anyone who would give him attention, liked to play ball, and eat all the treats you would let him. He just loved his new life as a "dog". He was truly amazing. Always curious and no matter what was going on, he was able to look you in the eye and make you chuckle because you could only imagine what he was thinking and knew that if he got the chance he would get into something. Hence, his nickname...Chaos. Angel came to MARS from Florida where he had been dumped at a local pound. He was heartworm positive, but he knew that someone would come to be his "angel". So, he never gave up hope and continued to fight for a good life. That's when he came to Minnesota and was able to successfully withstand the effects of the harsh heartworm treatment all while keeping his head up the entire time. No one wanted to see him go. He was a great success to have seen and loved by so many of us. He was kept company by Steve, Amanda, and Chris when he crossed over the bridge and got to enjoy a tasty McGriddle sandwich with hash browns before he left us. He never once fought the medication because he knew that it was his time to go to his forever home across the bridge. God truly called back one of his angel's. We'll miss you Angel, but your memory will stay in our hearts until we meet again ...

Last updated:   14 March 2012

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.