Rebecca Hardy was killed a little over a week ago. The young mother climbed into a neighbor's backyard, in Port Huron, Michigan, where she was attacked by two dogs -- one identified as a pit bull, the other as a pit bull/husky mix.
The medical examiner has, somewhat bafflingly, ruled Hardy's death a suicide. Ljubisa Dragovic, chief medical examiner for Oakland County, explained to the Port Huron Times Herald this was because Hardy'd "climbed the fence and jumped in and basically subjected herself to the attacks, which constitutes a purposeful act." The dogs have been euthanized.
Matthew Grattan -- Hardy's fiancé and the father of their child, Molly -- does not believe that she killed herself. And in the thick of navigating his family's tragedy, Grattan says he does not want to be dragged into the center of what seems to be another ugly debate over pit bulls.
“It’s so much about the pit bulls that it seems like it’s not so much about my fiancé anymore,” Grattan said to the Port Huron Times Herald.
Indeed, in the days days after Becca Hardy's death, her terrible story was used as fodder by those who have long argued for pit bull bans, despite a large body of evidence that such bans are ineffective at increasing public safety.
When Grattan himself did not join the cause, he then came under attack.
"It's mostly just online jerks," Grattan told The Huffington Post by email. "I don't answer numbers I don't recognize."
Some of that nastiness has been compiled on the pit bull advocacy blog Zombies and Dogs.
The blog's writer, Kimberly Stojakovic, reached out to Grattan soon after Hardy's death, and then wrote a heartbreaking blog post about their initial conversations.
Stojakovic says that truthfully, she did begin talking to Grattan at least in part because of her interest in pit bulls. But mostly, she says, she just felt for Grattan. Stojakovic is also the mother of a young child and she wanted him not to feel so alone.
"I just saw all these people saying some horrible things about [Becca] and him and I could only imagine how attacked he must have felt," she said to HuffPost. "I think we get so caught up in the whys and pointing fingers -- from both sides -- that we forget that someone just died."
That's not something Grattan can forget.
He said he has a letter Hardy wrote to him, in which she says that she loves him and wants to "spend this beautiful life" together.
"I don't know about you but that letter hardly sounds like someone who wants to take their own life to me," he said.
He was excited about that life together, too. He hoped they would have more kids. He liked to imagine their far-off future.
"When we were old I'd be the old man telling kids to stay off his lawn," he said, "And she'd be the lady inside yelling at me to 'leave those kids alone.'"
But since this is no longer a possibility, what Grattan hopes for now is a distant consolation prize: that his family might have some peace and some space to grieve.
"I want people to understand Becca really was an amazing person," he said. "The best things I remember are her times with our daughter. Molly loved her so much, and I used to just sit and watch them together smiling away knowing I had my dream family."
Get in touch with HuffPost's animal welfare editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
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