The Oakland Country Medical Examiner’s office in Michigan has officially ruled the death of Rebecca Hardy a suicide after an investigation revealed the 22-year-old climbed the fence into her neighbor’s backyard and was subsequently mauled to death by a pitbull and a pitbull-husky mix.

"She climbed the fence and jumped in and basically subjected herself to the attacks, which constitutes a purposeful act," Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic, chief medical examiner for Oakland County, told the Port Huron Times Herald. "It's a sad story, but these are the facts."

While Hardy’s fiancé, Matthew Grattan, maintains that she would never do anything to intentionally harm herself for the sake of her daughter, investigators discovered that she had attempted suicide in the past and was seen walking barefoot to her neighbor’s yard after being kicked out of her home. Although a witness attempted to rescue Hardy, the dogs were only subdued when the owner came out to calm them and provide aid for Hardy.

She was airlifted to Beaumont Hospital, where she died due to multiple injuries sustained around her neck and face. A preliminary investigation did not make it clear why Hardy would have entered the yard when most people in her neighborhood, including her, knew the dogs as “attack dogs.” Her death was ruled a suicide due to both witnesses’ statements and the fact that she deliberately entered the yard. Both dogs and a pitbull-husky mix puppy were all detained and euthanized the next day with the consent from the owner.

Now, as a proud pitbull owner, I’m not going to sit here and tell you every pitbull is cute and cuddly (but mine is).

Sticking her tongue out at people who think all pitbulls are dangerous. Facebook

Today’s pitbull is a descendant of the original English bull-baiting dog — a dog that was specifically bred to bite and hold bulls, bears, and other large animals around the face and head. This explains their descendants' awesome jaw power. When baiting large animals was outlawed in the 1800s, these muscular bull-baiting dogs were bred with quick and agile terriers to create an impressively athletic breed of dog for the worst reason: dog fighting.

However, this in no way confirms that all descendants of these dogs are aggressive by nature. On the contrary, many breeders at the time chose to breed this bull-baiting, terrier mix for work and companionship. Unfortunately, the majority of pitbulls we see today were bred without regard for behavioral traits — a practice known as random breeding. The result is a larger population of dogs with a variety of behavioral dispositions, something that pitbull advocates are starting to correct.

Despite the pitbull’s history, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that the behavior of each dog, no matter what the breed, is dependent on a complex interaction between environment and genetics. Research has shown that a dog’s behavior can depend on nutrition, its mother’s stress levels while pregnant, and even womb temperature.

While behavioral development in dogs is never cut and dry, puppies that are introduced to both humans and other dogs at a young age (socialization) are significantly less likely to show aggression toward either. So chaining two dogs up in your backyard where anyone can walk in and be deliberately mauled to death may not be the best method for socialization. From one dog owner to another, introduce your new puppy to as many people and other dogs as possible after they’ve had all their shots if you want them to be friendly.

Just look at these two angels.

Nala and Simba
Socialization at its finest. Facebook