Breaking News
More () »

Mother asks for change and justice on Navajo Nation after teenage daughter's mauling

There is no Navajo Animal Control law to hold dog owners criminally responsible for a dog attack.

ARIZONA, USA — Lyssa Rose Upshaw was supposed to turn 14 on Friday. She was supposed to go to high school this fall. She was supposed to come home after taking a walk shortly before dinner this May.

However, Upshaw didn’t make it home. Instead, the family would find her body lying in the fetal position.

“When I ran up to her body, I noticed her legs were chewed to the bone,” Ris Jones, Upshaw’s mother, said. “I was scared, freaking out at the same time, angry, horrified.”

An autopsy confirmed this week that Jones was killed by dogs.

Detectives for the Navajo Nation confirmed that they have taken evidence from 12 dogs to see which animals took part of the mauling.

“I just want them to be held responsible,” Jones said.

Jones said neighbors allowed their dogs to run free and resulted in the death of her youngest child.

However, under the Navajo Nation’s animal control laws, owners can’t be held criminally responsible for a dog attack.

According to the Navajo Nation’s Criminal Investigation Unit, the maximum civil penalty under current law is a $500 fine.

“I was like, 'wow, that’s how much my daughter's life was worth,'” Jones said.

Efforts to pass new rules have been unsuccessful.

Upshaw’s death is also not the first as the Navajo Nation faces an extreme number of dogs on reservation land.

During a government meeting, the nation’s senior animal control officer estimates there are 500,000 dogs on the reservation, and just seven animal control officers.

Jones wants more to be done. To hold those responsible who led to her daughter’s death.

Investigators told 12 News that they are still waiting test results from the 12 dogs in question. Depending on those results additional charges could come towards the owner. That could include federal charges.

However, they did not disclose what those potential charges could be.

Up to Speed

Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.

Before You Leave, Check This Out