Latest dog attack angers families, leaders in southwest Atlanta


Less than 24 hours after the funeral for a 6-year-old boy attacked by dogs, another man was attacked in the same southwest Atlanta neighborhood.

A Chappell Road resident shot one of two dogs as it mauled the man early Monday, possibly saving the victim’s life. When officers arrived, John Lee Billups was unconscious, with severe lacerations to his arms and face, according to police. Billups, 48, was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital while investigators searched for the dogs, described as pit-bull mixes, and their owners. One dog was captured, but the owner had not been located Tuesday, police said.

The latest attack happened six days after kindergarten student Logan Braatz was killed as he walked to his school bus stop. A 5-year-old schoolmate was seriously injured and will spend weeks in the hospital, her family has said.

John Lee Billups survived his attack and remained at Grady late Tuesday. But all three attacks could have been prevented, according to the families and animal experts.

“The Braatz family is shocked, appalled and saddened this has already happened again,” a family statement released Tuesday said. “We have our worries that something bigger is at play with dogs in this area.”

‘It’s very frightening and unsettling’

The three dogs that approached children Jan. 17 on Gideons Drive were loose and owners were not present, police have said. During the initial investigation, officers determined that Cameron Tucker owned two of the dogs, and he was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct.

Three days later, dogs were again seen wandering in the same area. By the time animal control officers arrived, only one dog was captured. But that dog had also been present when the two children were attacked, according to a witness.

“It’s very frightening and unsettling that there’s still a dog around this neighborhood that killed a child,” Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms said Friday.

Bottoms had planned to visit Logan’s family last week when she saw a different large dog.

“It took Fulton County over an hour to get here, but they have 15 animal control officers for 15 cities in Fulton County,” Bottoms said. “So it’s no wonder that they couldn’t get here quickly.”

On Tuesday, the recent dog attacks were discussed for more than an hour at a regular meeting of the Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety Committee. Any recommendations from the committee will likely be taken up at the Feb. 6 City Council meeting.

The conversations are needed to spark changes after the horrific dog attacks, Logan’s family said. But some legal experts contend that laws are already in place — they just aren’t being enforced.

‘We need to hold people responsible’

Attorney Claudine Wilkins, co-founder of Animal Law Source, said Georgia’s Responsible Dog Ownership law, signed into law in 2012, was written in response to previous dog attacks. Wilkins wrote the law, which classifies dogs as dangerous or vicious based on past behavior, and stipulates the steps owners must take.

A dog considered dangerous “must not leave property unless on a leash not to exceed 6 feet and under the immediate physical control of a person capable of preventing the dog from engaging any other human or animal when necessary, or in a locked cage or crate,” a portion of the law reads.

Counties may have additional laws protecting citizens and owners, but Wilkins said laws are either are not enforced or understood by dog owners, law enforcement and judges. Wilkins and fellow attorney Jessica Rock hold conferences to educate communities about the laws. The goal of educating the public is simple: prevent further deaths or serious injuries from dogs.

“What I hope people will wake up and realize is that being a responsible dog owner is so very important,” Rock said. “We need to hold people responsible for being irresponsible owners. Being responsible owners means keeping your animals in a secure location.”




Next Up in Local

Cobb orchestra to hold sensory-friendly concert for people with autism
Cobb orchestra to hold sensory-friendly concert for people with autism

The Georgia Symphony Orchestra encourages audience members to get up, dance around and make noise during its March 3 concert. The orchestra has adjusted its usual constraints and specifically tailored its song list for people with autism and their families. “Sensory sensitive listeners and family members will delight in the discovery of...
Police ID gym-goer accused of swiping TV after pretending to work out
Police ID gym-goer accused of swiping TV after pretending to work out

The gym-goer who stole a television after pretending to work out has been identified, Gwinnett County police said. Ibrahim Halil Gordu, 31, of Norcross, took off his shirt at an apartment complex gym and returned — wearing a gray sweatshirt — with an accomplice to make off with a flat-screen TV, Cpl. Michele Pihera said Friday. Gordu, who...
Nuestra Comunidad: Immigrants receive messages of support
Nuestra Comunidad: Immigrants receive messages of support

Professing love and respect for the immigrant community in Georgia was the main objective of the event, ‘To Immigrants with Love,’ an initiative put on by several organizations and which formed part of of a national campaign by the same name. Members of the Hispanic community, organization leaders and state representatives attended the...
Police: Man hit woman with pickup after she refused his advances
Police: Man hit woman with pickup after she refused his advances

A man is accused of hitting a woman with his pickup in Texas after she refused his advances toward her, according to an arrest affidavit. Carlos Amozurrutia, 27, of Round Rock, was charged with accident involving personal injury, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The victim said Amozurrutia was giving her a ride...
Southern Company’s 4Q earnings exceed as yearlong earnings take a dive
Southern Company’s 4Q earnings exceed as yearlong earnings take a dive

Citing mild weather, reduced customer demand and legal expenses related to one of its power plants, Atlanta-based Southern Company posted weaker earnings in 2017 compared to the year before. The company made $842 million in 2017, down from $2.4 billion in 2016. Southern Company’s earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017 were $496 million, compared...
More Stories