Fatal dog mauling: Rescue group founder says Great Danes usually sweet

Unlike the dogs found to have mauled to death a Warren County woman in her home, Great Danes are usually sweet and loving, unless poorly raised by backyard breeders, according to the founder of a long-time area rescue organization.

Dale Bath, founder of the Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue in Bethel, Brown County, was responding to questions after the mauling death of Mary M. Matthews, 49, on Friday at her home in Clearcreek Twp.

Bath talked about Great Danes as Baird Funeral Home in Troy was completing Matthews’ funeral arrangements. No details were available Tuesday.

Matthews was pronounced dead at 4:34 p.m. on Friday.

She was found in the bathroom of her home near the front door. Blood was found in the garage, entryway into the house and laundry room, as well as in the bathroom and other parts of the house, according to an incident report.

The dogs were found on a back deck “littered with dog feces to the point the actual deck floor could not be seen,” according to a police report.

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Matthews was found by her husband, Dale Mark Matthews, when he returned after two days in the county jail to their home in a subdivision off Ohio 73 and between Springboro and Waynesville, where they lived with two dogs, according to records.

The husband said they kept the dogs for two years against his better judgment, noting one was vicious.

“I never wanted the Danes. But she wanted to rescue them,” Matthews told WHIO-TV.

Matthews said after the dogs fought, “they would take it out on her,” unless he intervened to protect her.

“She was sweet, kind. She loved animals,” he said in remembrance of his wife.

Bath said her rescue group had never dealt with the Matthews family.

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Beyond the problems caused by backyard breeders’ poorly training Great Danes, Bath said owners sometimes fail to realize the cost and time commitment involved in raising and caring for such a large animal.

“They tend to get big. People are shocked,” she said.

Dale Mark Matthews said theirs weighed 130 and 240 pounds, with the smaller one the more aggressive.

Harlequin Haven has placed 1,589 of the dogs, Bath added.

Under current Ohio law and to hold insurance, rescues could no longer take Great Danes that had bitten someone, Bath said.

Bath said she founded Harlequin Haven in 1992 and could count the number of times she had been bitten by one of the rescues on one hand.

“I’ve never needed a stitch,” she added.

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