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Great Dane Attack Kills 2-year-old Girl

By Dudley Brown, Staff Writer

ROEBUCK, SC -- When Crystal Sinclair looked out to check on her 2-year-old daughter Thursday morning, all she saw was a toy.

She went to her next-door neighbor, Patricia Hancock, to ask for help.

Soon, she and Hancock came upon the body of Makayla "Booter" Paige Sinclair where eight of Hancock's nine Great Danes were kept chained to a tree. She was found 265 feet from her front door. Hancock called 911 at 10:05 a.m., and when EMS arrived, Makayla was dead.

At least one of the Great Danes had attacked her.

That was the horrifying story told by sheriff's deputies and Coroner Jim Burnett.

Makayla spent Wednesday night with her grandfather before he dropped her off at her mother's mobile home about 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

When he returned to 155 Shaw Road, the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office and the coroner were tending to Makayla.

Wayne Sinclair couldn't get the words out to talk about his only grandchild.

"(Makayla) worshipped him and he worshipped her," said Wayne Sinclair's sister Judy Sanford.

"(Makayla) was his heart," said another sister, Shirley Robinson.

Family and friends stood in front of Crystal Sinclair's home, watching deputies investigate behind Hancock's house. Spartanburg County Animal Control took Hancock's dogs.

"She was the best (child) you could have," Crystal Sinclair said. "She was sweet and loved her papa and her nanny."

Her fiance, Bill Campbell, said Makayla was full of energy.

"She had more life than any (child) I'd ever seen," he said.

Campbell said Makayla talked to her dolls just like he and her mother talked to her when it was naptime or bedtime.

Pat Donnells is Crystal Sinclair's supervisor at the Subway sandwich shop in Roebuck on Highway 221, and she remembers Makayla coming into the store full of life.

"She was just a little sweetie," Donnells said.

Sanford said Makayla was outgoing and not a bit shy.

"She was precious," Sanford said. "She didn't meet a stranger. She would smile at you no matter who you were."

Burnett said Makayla and her mother went outside about 9:30 a.m. to play before Sinclair eventually went inside to do housework.

According to Burnett, Sinclair said she had checked on her daughter about six times before she looked out and didn't see her.

Burnett said the death is being ruled accidental. He also said the State Law Enforcement Division has been notified, which is routine in cases of child fatalities.

An autopsy will be conducted this morning.

Environmental Enforcement Director Don Arnold said all 10 of Hancock's dogs would be held at the Spartanburg Humane Society for up to 10 days pending investigation. He said dogs confirmed to have been involved with the attack would be euthanized.

Hancock is also being issued six tickets for failure to provide verification of rabies inoculation. Arnold said Environmental Enforcement officers visited Hancock's home in March because of complaints involving dogs running at large.

Hancock would not comment.

Burnett said he believes Makayla's death is the first fatality involving a dog attack in Spartanburg County in his 16 years as coroner.

According to Karen Delise, a former veterinary technician who has tried to research and chronicle the circumstances surrounding every fatal dog attack in the United States since 1955, there have been 21 fatalities caused by dogs this year. She said there were 15 in 2002 and the average is between 18 and 20 a year.

Dudley Brown can be reached at 562-7426 or dudley.brown@shj.com.