18 Terrifying Stories Of Pets Who Turned On Their Owners

Even with training and domestication, pets have been known to turn on their owners. Sadly, this is all the more common with exotic animals that are difficult or impossible to train, such as lions, bears, and snakes. These stories are tragic, usually of devoted guardians attempting to simply do what can't be done - tame a wild beast.

Pets who have turned on their humans include a famous chimpanzee, various reptiles, a hippo that inspired a TV special, bears, and even spiders. Some of these cases are the result of obvious bad ideas, but many were just animal owners who had fallen in love with an exotic creature and paid the ultimate price.

Photo: Zargony / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

  • Travis The Chimpanzee Disfigured A Woman
    Photo: Thomas Lersch / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Travis The Chimpanzee Disfigured A Woman

    Travis the Chimpanzee became famous after he appeared on TV with his owner Sandra Herold. In 2009, Herold called her friend Charla Nash for help getting the 200-pound chimp back into his cage.

    But when Travis saw Nash, he attacked. Herold tried to stop Travis with a knife, which only angered him more. She called 911 and police arrived, which led to Travis ripping off the door of one of the police cars. An officer shot Travis, ending the chimp's rampage.

    Nash eventually received a settlement from Herold's estate and has undergone extensive reconstructive surgery.

  • Scarface The Pitbull Mauled His Owner Over A Sweater

    A Florida woman and her family were accosted by her pet pitbull after she tried to make him wear a sweater.

    The pitbull named Scarface went after Brenda Guerrero, 52, in her Tampa home on New Year's Day in 2017. When her husband Ismael stepped in to help her, the dog turned on him. The couple's 22-year-old son tried to intervene but failed to stop the dog.

    The three eventually managed to escape, leaving the dog outside. Animal Control officers were called to the home and had to subdue the dog with a Taser. Officials said Scarface was "pretty aggressive." Sounds like an understatement. 

  • Teddy The Black Bear Killed His Owner While She Cleaned His Cage
    Photo: Terry Spivey / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Teddy The Black Bear Killed His Owner While She Cleaned His Cage

    The Walz family of Allentown, PA, had raised their 350-pound black bear Teddy since it was a cub. But even so, the bear attacked and killed Kelly Ann Walz as she was cleaning his cage. She made the mistake of cleaning the cage while Teddy was still in it, which apparently set him off. Neighbor children saw the incident, and their father shot Teddy.

    Authorities soon discovered that Kelly's husband's license to keep and sell exotic animals had expired.

  • A Hoarder Was Bitten By His Pet Black Widow
    Photo: Ken-ichi Ueda / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0

    A Hoarder Was Bitten By His Pet Black Widow

    A resident of Dortmund, Germany, Mark Voegel lived a solitary life in a small apartment, keeping the company only of the numerous insects and snakes he collected as pets. It was one of these, a black widow spider, that caused his demise. In the roughly two weeks it took for him to be found, his menagerie feasted on him.

    Hundreds of spiders, lizards, and snakes - along with countless termites - had consumed him, with webs draping his body, and bits of him scattered all around the apartment.

  • A Pet Deer Gored Its Owner
    Photo: Arturo de Frias Marques / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    A Pet Deer Gored Its Owner

    Texas resident Gerald Rushton kept a 500-pound red stag deer in a pen in his backyard. Despite the fact that deer are illegal to keep in Texas and extremely dangerous, Rushton was attempting to domesticate the animal and keep it as a pet. The attempt failed, as the deer gored and trampled Rushton to death.

    Game wardens arrived on the scene and euthanized the deer, but Rushton could not be saved.

  • Gypsy The Burmese Python Strangled A Toddler

    In 2009, Jaren Hare and Charles Darnell owned a pet python named Gypsy, and its cage was only covered by a quilt. The Florida residents insisted on keeping it, and the snake escaped, wrapping itself around Hare's two-year-old daughter and killing her. 

    Animal experts believed the snake hadn't been fed in a month and was severely underweight when it tried to eat the girl. Hare and Darnell were arrested, and while their attorney tried to argue that the snake had always been docile, a jury convicted them of third-degree murder, manslaughter, and child neglect. They were each sent to prison for 12 years.