Sandra L. Piovesan and her wolf dogs

Sandra L. Piovesan claimed her pack of nine wolf-dogs gave her unconditional love. However, things took a vicious turn when she failed to show up for a meeting with her daughter. Concerned, her estranged husband went to look for Piovesan only to find her body inside the wolf dogs’ cage, half-eaten. She succumbed to her injuries after being clawed and bitten by the pack.

Riki Weinhold and his bull

Riki Weinhold loved spending time with his cattle in Philadelphia, probably more so than he did spending time with humans. At the time of his tragic death, Weinhold had been spending even more time with his herd as a calf was about to be born. On the eve of his 53rd birthday, he was attacked by his one-ton bull, the injuries from which proved fatal.

Kelly Ann Walls and her black bear

Kelly Ann Walls had many unorthodox pets: an African lion, a Bengal tiger, and a black bear – oh my! She was killed by her black bear while she was cleaning his cage. Walls had been giving him some dog food when she turned her back on the bear, which decided to attack and fatally wound her. Witnesses called authorities but it was already too late.

Pam Weaver and her camel

On her 60th birthday, Pam Waver was gifted a pet camel by her husband. This ten-month-old, 150kg animal had a history of erratic behaviour. On one otherwise normal day, the camel knocked Waver to the ground and reportedly tried to have sex with her. He lay on top of her until she died of asphyxiation.

Terry Vance Garner and his pigs

In October 2012, farmer Terry Vance Garner vanished after he left to feed his 700-pound pigs. Later on, his family made a startling discovery: Garner had been devoured by his beloved animals. What remained of him in the pig pen were a few body parts and his dentures. Garner’s brother, Michael, described Terry as a “good-hearted guy” and said that “animals were his life.”

Marius Els and his hippopotamus

Marius Els adopted hippo Humphrey in 2005, and enjoyed swimming with him and “(riding) him like a horse.” Els admitted, “It’s a little bit dangerous, but I trust him with my heart that he will not harm anybody.” This faith proved ill-placed: in 2011 Els’ body was found dead in the river, having been bitten and dragged into the water by his beloved companion.

Mark Voegel and his black widow spiders

If you think that living in a cramped Dortmund apartment with 200 spiders and lizards is playing with fire, then you’re right. In 2004, Mark Voegel was found dead in his home, draped in “giant webs” with spiders “all over him… coming out of his nose and his mouth.” We can only hope the black widow bite that ended his life did so quickly.

Paul McDonald and his red deer

Red deer stags are placid, sociable animals for 10 months of the year. For the other two, they enter a “rutting” period, in which they become sexually aggressive. One morning on his Australian farm, Paul McDonald’s son found his father being attacked by their red deer. The son called paramedics and police, who treated the injuries and shot the deer. Unfortunately, McDonald didn’t survive.

Ram Lakhan Verma and his elephant

Ram Lakhan Verma was a politician affiliated with India’s Bahujan Samaj Party, whose official symbol is an elephant. As such, Verma kept an elephant as a pet to use during political campaigns. In 2003, the elephant started acting aggressively so Verma struck it on the forehead with a sharp iron rod. During the ordeal, Verma fell over and was crushed by the frantic elephant.

Aleta Stacey and her black mamba

In her New York home, Aleta Stacey kept around 75 snakes, including a black mamba, widely considered the deadliest snake in the world. In 2011, the snake escaped its enclosure and bit Stacey on her forearm, killing her. It usually takes around 20 minutes for someone to die from a black mamba bite, making it nearly impossible to get to a hospital for treatment in time.

Bethany Lynn Stephens and her dogs

Twenty-two-year-old Bethany Lynn Stephens, of Virginia, loved her two dogs and the animals had a “significant bond” with her. But one day in December 2017, Bethany’s father found her body in the woods – and two of her dogs were guarding it. Authorities found defensive wounds on her arms and puncture wounds consistent with dog bites.

Dan Brandon and his python

When 31-year-old Dan Brandon’s mother found him dead in his bedroom, she had no idea what had killed him, although the fact that he kept 10 snakes and 12 tarantulas made her suspect it was an animal bite. The coroner eventually determined that the 8-foot rock python “Tiny” was responsible for Brandon’s death.

Gerald Ruston and his stag

Credit: @Lviatour at Wikimedia Commons

Gerald Rushton, 67, was feeding his pet European red stag in 2010 when the animal pinned him to a fence, impaled him with its antlers and then trampled him to death. When officers responded to the 911 call, they shot the deer and freed Rushton, but he had already died from his injuries. Rushton had owned the stag since it was a fawn.

Mat Hussin Sulaiman and his monkey

In a bizarre accident, 76-year-old Malaysian Mat Hussin Sulaiman was killed when his trained monkey threw a coconut at his head. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Sulaiman had been waiting underneath a coconut tree when the monkey threw the coconut. It struck him in the head with enough force to break his neck.

Carl Hulsey and his goat

In 1991, 77-year-old Carl Hulsey was killed by a goat named Snowball. Some reports say that Hulsey was training the animal to be a guard goat and used sticks to beat it into becoming aggressive. Snowball butted him to death by rupturing his stomach. Fortunately for the goat, it was spared a trip to the butcher and instead went to live at an animal shelter.

Aidan Pankey and his rat

Aidan Pankey, a 10-year-old boy in Virginia, developed severe stomach pains two weeks after adopting a rat from Petco. He died the day after he was admitted to the hospital. The rat was later found to be a carrier of streptobacillus moniliformis infection (also called “rat bite fever”). Aidan’s parents sued Petco, but the jury sided with the retailer and the family got nothing.

Shaianna Hare and her python

Two Florida residents were found guilty of manslaughter after their pet python strangled the family’s two-year-old daughter. Experts found that the snake was not being fed and had lost a significant amount of weight before trying to eat the girl. Jaren Hare and Charles Darnell were later found guilty of third-degree murder, manslaughter and child neglect, and were each sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Alexandria Hall and her viper

Credit: @Gionorossi at Wikimedia Commons

In 2004, Cincinnati woman Alexandria Hall died after being bitten by her pet urutu pit viper. Although she was conscious enough to drive herself to the hospital, she passed away almost a week later. Police, along with herpetologists from the Cincinnati Zoo, entered the woman’s home and found a number of exotic animals in cages, including nearly a dozen venomous snakes.

Ronald Huff and his lizards

Credit: Charles J. Sharp via Wikimedia Commons

When Ronald Huff died in 2002 in his apartment, it was the lizards he had kept as pets – Nile monitor lizards – that eventually devoured him. When Huff failed to show up for work, his family became concerned. Police were called to check on him; they found him dead in his apartment with lizards feeding on his body.

Deasy Tuwo and her crocodile

In January 2019, a woman named Deasy Tuwo fell into an outdoor enclosure containing a crocodile named Merry. The crocodile may have been able to leap high enough out of the water to catch Tuwo as she stood on the wall, or she may have fallen into the enclosure by accident. The animal had eaten one of Tuwo’s hands and most of her abdomen.

Savannah Gragg and her pitbull

When 9-year-old Savannah Gragg opened the door of her home to let the family dog outside, the pit bull jumped on her, knocked her to the ground and clamped its jaws around her neck. According to reports, the attack was purely intended to kill. Gragg’s grandmother witnessed the attack and managed to free her, but she passed away at the hospital.

Andre Lamboga and his dogs

When Indonesian man Andre Lumboga went on holiday for the Eid al Fitr, leaving his nine dogs without food or water for two weeks, he returned to find them starved. The seven surviving dogs, who had already consumed two of their weaker companions, attacked Lumboga on his arrival. When a guard noticed the awful smell, he called the police, who found Lumboga’s mutilated body inside.

Al Abell and his lion

Illinois resident Al Abell oversaw a zoo on a farm, where he found himself mistaken for prey by a 500-pound African lion named Simba. Although Abell had normally been careful around big cats, one mistake cost him his life. The 52-year-old forgot to put the large cat in its secondary enclosure before attempting to clean its cage.

Norman Buwalda and his tiger

Credit: Appaloosa via Wikimedia Commons

Norman Buwalda kept many exotic animals, including a Siberian tiger. He was often criticized by his neighbours for owning these dangerous creatures, but he didn’t believe he was doing anything wrong. One day while cleaning the tiger’s cage, he was attacked and mauled to death.

Herbert Walden and his cats

When Herbert Walden suffered a heart attack, he was taking care of his mother Jane, who depended on him for care. After Herbert’s death, Jane also died of dehydration soon after. Authorities discovered twelve of Herbert’s house cats eating his foot when they entered their home.

Grant Williams and his python

In 1996, a pet python was found coiled around the torso of Bronx resident Grant Williams, who had purchased the snake from a local pet store five months earlier. A live chicken was found in a box near the body, leading authorities to believe that the accident was probably feeding-related. Williams died in hospital and the snake was donated to the Bronx Zoo.

Joe De La Garza and his parrot

Credit: @tgreyfox via Wikimedia Commons

When Amanda De La Garza, the daughter of Joe De La Garza, purchased a cockatiel from PetSmart, her father grew ill. The culprit? Parrot fever – a contagious disease that can be passed on to humans. Joe later died from the disease. Amanda herself was put into a coma but has thankfully since recovered.

Cynthia Lee Gamble and her tiger

Cynthia Lee Gamble, a Minnesota animal handler, was killed by her pet Bengal tiger in an avoidable accident. While cleaning the tiger’s cage, she accidentally left one of the drop doors open, exposing her. Following its predator instincts, the tiger took the opportunity, attacking Gamble and killing her instantly.

Stephan Miller and his bear

The movie Semi-Pro starring Will Ferrell tells the story of a fictional basketball team attempting to win the NBA. In one scene, Will Ferrell’s character wrestles a bear – played by grizzly bear Rocky. However, not long after the film’s release, Rocky fatally bit his trainer, Stephan Miller, on the neck. Miller died at the scene and Rocky was taken away by animal control officers.

Marvin Hajos and his cassowary

Marvin Hajos had a pet cassowary, a six-foot-tall flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea known for its dagger-like claws and incredibly strong legs. State wildlife officials say Hajos was breeding the birds, which are sought after in the United States by collectors of exotic birds. Hajos was playing with the cassowary when he tripped and fell, and the bird attacked him.

Nguh Muhammad and his monkey

72-year-old Nguh Muhammad and his son were both attacked by the pet monkey that they had been raising since it was a baby. The father died from the injuries he sustained, although his son managed to escape with only a neck injury. A neighbour heard the son’s screams and rescued him, but it was already too late for Nguh.

Klaus Radandt and his wildebeest

Credit: Derek Keats via Wikimedia Commons

In 2004, Klaus “Dick” Radandt was killed by a wildebeest that he raised in his backyard. The coroner determined that the animal had first rammed its owner and then trampled him to death. It’s thought the animal behaved this way as it was the beginning of the mating season, which can make male wildebeests extremely aggressive.

Susan Shawl and her pitbull

In August 2016, two pit bulls savagely attacked their owner, Susan Shawl, at her home in Conifer, Colorado. Her adult son Richard tried to intervene and was also injured in the attack. When rescuers arrived on the scene, the dogs had calmed down – but their elderly owner had already passed away.

Mario Perivoitos and his bull terrier

A BBC film crew was interviewing Mario Perivoitos of England for a documentary called Drugs Map Britain. While the cameras were off, Staffordshire bull terrier Major attacked Perivoitos, who later died from his injuries. Major also tested positive for cocaine, which he probably ingested in his owner’s apartment.

A woman and her hamster

This is another bizarre story of a woman who was found dead and mutilated in her apartment. Investigators discovered that she owned a free-range hamster, which may have been involved in the attack. When investigators looked in an open drawer, they found a hamster’s burrow. They were horrified to discover what the burrow was made up of: human skin.

James Little and his Shiba Inu

James Little woke up one afternoon to find his Shiba Inu nibbling on his toes – but it was too late. The dog had already devoured them. Little had lost feeling in his toes from diabetes. Curiously, the dog was actually trying to help his owner. Some breeds of dogs chew off diseased flesh in an effort to help remove it from their owners.

Andre Lamboga and his dogs

When 50-year-old Andre Lamboga returned home from his trip, he lined up his suitcases in front of the house, went inside and shot himself. Several dogs belonging to Lamboga were found at his home after he committed suicide. The dogs had been feasting on their owner’s remains and had also reportedly devoured two of the other dogs.

Charla Nash and a chimpanzee

The pet of Sandra Herold, Travis the chimpanzee gained fame in 2009 when he attacked Charla Nash after she came to Herold’s home to help put him in his cage. Herold called 911 and police arrived, who then shot Travis after he ripped off the door of one of their cars. After a settlement was reached with Herold’s estate, Nash underwent extensive reconstructive surgery.

Brenda Guerrero and her pitbull

Brenda Guerrero, 52, attempted to put a sweater on her pet pitbull in Tampa, Florida. When the dog resisted, he attacked her and then turned on her husband Ismael when he tried to help. The couple and their son escaped and called Animal Control, who subdued the dog with a taser.

Amber Michelle Couch and her mountain lion

Amber Michelle Couch, of Odessa, TX, was cited by animal control for keeping a 150-pound pet mountain lion. The animal was not vaccinated, and his cage was too small; large gaps in between the bars were also a safety hazard. In 2011, a young boy was injured after he got too close to the animal’s cage. The boy survived, but the lion was euthanized.

Lucy Melo and her elephant

In 2012, zookeeper Lucy Melo was crushed by a two-year-old male Asian elephant while she was training him to wash in public view at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Melo was pinned against a metal pole and couldn’t breathe. Her co-workers quickly intervened, and Melo was taken to the hospital, where she thankfully recovered.

Dawn Brancheau and her whale

In 2010, at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, a killer whale named Tilikum pulled trainer Dawn Brancheau underwater and thrashed her around in his mouth. Brancheau was killed in the horrific incident, which was witnessed by horrified onlookers. The incident made international headlines and triggered a massive public outcry against the company.

Stacey Konwiser and her tiger

Stacey Konwiser had worked for the Palm Beach Zoo for three years when she was attacked and killed by a 13-year-old male Malayan tiger in April 2016. She died while cleaning its lair and feeding it. Following Konwiser’s death, officials decided not to euthanize the tiger involved in the attack and instead kept it at the zoo to help preserve endangered species.

Alexis Martinez and his orca

Alexis Martinez was training killer whales at Loro Parque’s Orca Ocean to put on a show in celebration of the upcoming holidays. On Christmas Eve, 2009, Martinez was practicing with killer whale Keto. Suddenly, the whale lunged and pinned him to the bottom of the pool. Three minutes later, Keto brought up Martinez’s lifeless body.

Charlynn Taketa and her horse

Charlynn Taketa loved horses and began training and racing them in 1972. On August 11, 2011, Charlynn took her most recent charge, Caballito De Mar, to a hot walker when a second horse suddenly appeared and kicked her in the head. Her husband found her lying in a pool of blood and called paramedics, but they were unable to save her.

Ali Khan Samsudin and his cobra

In the early 1990s, daredevil Ali Khan Samsudin became famous for his stunts involving snakes and scorpions, and survived dozens of bites and stings over the years. In 2006, his luck ran out. Sasmudin was entertaining fans in a Malaysian village when he was bitten by a cobra and rushed to Kuala Lumpur Hospital. He died three days later.

Benjamin Cloutier and his bear

Benjamin Cloutier moved from Quebec, Canada, to Montana in 2008 to follow his dream of working with wildlife. However, on November 4, 2012, his life came to a tragic end when he was mauled to death by two grizzly bears while cleaning their cage. Two years after the death of their son, Cloutier’s parents sued the training facility and its owner for wrongful death.

Alexander Crispin and his tiger

In June 2013, Alexander Crispin was attacked by a tiger while training at a Mexican circus. He had worked with the animal countless times before, but on that fateful night, the tiger lunged at him and mauled him relentlessly. Although circus employees tried to stop the attack by hitting the tiger with a metal pole, Crispin died from massive blood loss.

Oleksie Pinko and his lion

The National Circus of Ukraine is not afraid to use animals in its shows, despite a recent attack on a trainer by one of the lions. In 2010, a lion attacked trainer Oleksie Pinko during a show, and then another lion joined in. The two lions mauled Pinko, who was rescued and sent to a hospital for emergency surgery. He survived the attack.

A trainer and his elephant

In northeastern Pennsylvania in 2010, an elephant belonging to a town circus kicked his trainer and catapulted him more than six meters into the air. The incident occurred around 5:00 PM in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, while the circus was closed to the public. The trainer fell to the concrete and died from his injuries.

A woman and her wolves

In June 2012, a woman at Kolmarden Wildlife Park in Sweden was mauled to death by a pack of wolves she had raised from birth. The woman’s body was only recovered after rescue workers and park staff forced the wolves away from her corpse. To ensure their own safety during the rescue operation, armed guards stood ready to shoot if necessary.

Freddie Mack and his dogs

In 2019, a man who had been missing for months was found eaten by his own pet dogs. The pack of 18 mixed-breed dogs apparently devoured the man’s body, clothing and hair at his home in Texas. Bone fragments measuring between 2-5in were all that remained.

Kelci Saffery and her tiger

Tiger King, a Netflix series from 2020, explored the world of American private zoos. In one episode, the documentary crew explored the horrific injury of park employee Kelci ‘Saff’ Saffrey whose arm was ripped off by a tiger. The tiger that attacked him was not put down but moved away from visitors.

Laura Hurst and her python

In 2019, police officers found Laura Hurst dead in her home. The cause of death was strangulation by a python. The snake was eight feet long and wrapped around Hurst’s neck when medics arrived at the scene. Authorities described it as a “reptile home” where 140 snakes were found living.

A woman and her monkey

On September 9, 2021, Maliki, a five-year-old vervet monkey arrived at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary after spending his entire life as a pet in a private home. The former owner surrendered him to the sanctuary after he bit her while she was petting him.

Michael Poggi and his leopard

Michael Poggi, who runs an animal sanctuary from his home in Florida, agreed to let Dwight Turner play with and rub the belly of a leopard he had in his possession. Officials say that Poggi charged Turner $150 for this experience. Turner was attacked by the leopard and suffered critical injuries. Poggi was charged with a misdemeanour for keeping wildlife in an unsafe condition.

Rita Mondus and her lemur

In 2020, Diane Wilke was hired by Rita Mondus and her husband to paint a mural in their Shawano, Wisconsin home. While there, she claims that she was bitten by their pet lemur Ringo and now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Soon after, neighbour Peggy Otto was also attacked by Ringo, who bit her hand. She required stitches.

Patty Perry and her tigers

Patty Perry, a California wildlife conservationist and founder of Wildlife Environmental Conservation, was attacked by her own tigers in a terrifying episode at an animal sanctuary. Perry fell on the ground and got some lacerations to her head and shoulder before she was pulled out.

Sara Romswinckel and her tiger

A white Bengal tiger named Scooby was involved in an accident at the Great Cats World Park in 2016. The tiger bit animal keeper Sara Romswinckel hard enough to break her arm. Romswinckel hadn’t noticed that the tiger’s den was unlocked and when she pushed on the gate, it opened, exposing her arm.

Ali Iyoob and his cobra

Ali Iyoob, who owned 18 venomous snakes and 16 nonvenomous snakes, was bitten by his pet king cobra. Hospitalised, he was in critical condition but was saved by medical treatment. The other reptiles were removed from his home. Iyoob pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of possession of dangerous snakes and was sentenced to two years of supervised probation.

A woman and her zebra

In Oklahoma, a man suffered an injury to his right nipple after he was attacked by a pet zebra. Leonard Overcash said he was “traumatized” by the incident. The owner of the zebra agreed to cover his medical costs. However, city officials demanded she get rid of the zebra within 30 days as she was contravening laws over the ownership of exotic animals.

Rachel Hightower and her Siberian lynx

A Siberian lynx mauled 21-year-old Atlanta woman Rachel Hightower after she was asked to feed it while the owners were out of town. This large cat can weigh up to 90 pounds, and the owners had four of them as well as five other big cats. When police arrived at the woman’s home, they found her bleeding heavily from head injuries.

Wendelin Ringel and her capuchin

A capuchin monkey was quarantined for six months in 2014 after it bit a woman outside Antonious Pizza in Beaumont. The 35-year-old victim suffered a laceration to her forearm and was hospitalised. Wendelin Ringel, of Cherry Valley, turned in the Capuchin monkey to California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens for confiscation. The animal was placed in the care of animal services officials for observation.

Kameron Burgess and his rattlesnake

Kameron Burgess, an 18-year-old from Florida, was bitten by a rattlesnake that was being kept by his friend, despite the fact that it is against state law to do so. The friend who owned the snake had several other poisonous snakes including an Eyelash Viper and a Brazilian Lance Head, all of which were confiscated.

A woman and her macaque

A Javan macaque kept illegally as a pet bit a woman caring for it in 2012. The monkey belonged to the woman’s boyfriend, who kept it inside a small dog crate inside his trailer. He fed it Frosted Flakes. The monkey was taken into quarantine and its owner was charged with unlawful possession of a restricted species.

Jada Thurmond and her kinkajou

Jada Thurmond’s mother rushed her daughter to the hospital when she began suffering from severe headaches and urinating blood. Jada had been bitten by a kinkajou, a type of mammal found in Central America. Thurmond was playing with her aunt’s six-week-old kinkajou when the animal bit her hand. 24 hours later, she was hospitalized from a unique bacteria found in kinkajous called Kingella potus.

Chuck Mock and his large cats

A 10-year-old boy was critically injured by a tiger and a lion that were among a dozen large animals kept by a businessman Chuck Mock. Authorities said Mock opened a door to a cage, and a tiger escaped to attack the boy. When Mock tried to pull off the tiger, a lion bit Russell. Russell was left paralyzed from the neck down.

Terry Biggerstaff and his cougar

In 2005, Holly Higgins, a four-year-old girl from McLeansboro, Illinois, was bitten by an adult cougar. The animal’s owner, 58-year-old Terry Biggerstaff, shot and killed the animal. Holly suffered a broken arm and lacerations to her arm and hand. She was taken to Hamilton Memorial Hospital where she received stitches for her wounds.

Antoine Yates and his tiger

From 2000 to 2003, Harlem resident Antoine Yates was raising a 425-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger named Ming in his apartment. He also had an alligator whom he’d raised from a hatchling. When Yates brought home a stray black cat named Shadow, Ming was jealous of the newcomer and attacked him, prompting Yates to jump in the middle. He suffered bites on his neck, forearm and leg.

Ralph Jump and his water buffalo

In 2020, Monmouthshire farmer Ralph Jump, 57, was crushed to death by a water buffalo. The incident happened when Jump was trying to get the animal back into its pen. His 19-year-old son Peter sustained critical injuries in the attack and was airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales. Jump raised water buffalo to make soap from their milk.