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Elderly woman killed by pitbulls

By Gyasi Gonzales gyasi.gonzales@trinidadexpress.com

TWO pitbulls savagely mauled an 83-year-old woman to death yesterday while she was in the yard of her Tunapuna home.

The dogs were the property of her son and reports are she did not know the dogs were untied in their yard while he was at work. When she walked out to greet the neighbourhood postman the dogs attacked.

Police said that the incident occurred shortly before 1 p.m.

According to eyewitnesses, the victim, Sylvia Roberts, was in the yard of her Archibald Street, Tunapuna, home when she went to speak to the postman. She was leaning over a gate having a conversation with the man when the dogs suddenly attacked.

The gate was locked, which prevented the dogs from escaping, but unluckily for the woman all of their attention was directed at her.

Panicked neighbours called the police while others tried to get the dogs’ attention away from their victim but to no avail.

Her next-door neighbour, who did not want to be named, said, “I saw the dogs attacking her. She was inside her yard and she leaned across the gate but as she did that one of the dogs jumped on her and pulled her back into the yard.”

Another neighbour spoke of the woman’s desperate attempt to escape as she ran up the stairs leading to the front porch of her home but the woman’s frail body was no match for the relatively young dogs as they grabbed on to her and continued mauling her.

In the end it was the arrival of the Tunapuna police which stopped the attack.

Despite their shouts, the dogs remained on their victim and only after several gunshots were fired at them did they release their grip. Police said that by the time they got to the scene the woman had already been killed.

Neighbours speculated that Roberts did not know the dogs very well or that after her recent surgery her natural body scent changed and to the dogs she would have been a complete stranger.

One neighbour explained that the woman’s son would let the dogs loose in their yard at nights and then tie them up prior to going to work in the morning. Yesterday morning however, he forgot to tie the dogs.

Her son was at his workplace (Carib Brewery) and he rushed home after his sister in the United States called him and told him what had happened. The Express was told that when neighbours could not find him they telephoned his sister.

The Express also spoke to Roberts’s nephew, Roy Peters, who described his aunt as “a good lady”. He said that he last saw her alive yesterday morning.

“Only on Monday we had coffee and we laughed and talked but it’s a sad way to see her go like that. Right now her son is not taking it very good at all.”

The investigating team of officers from the Tunapuna CID includes Sgts Mark Maharaj and Ganga Singh.

Last August 26, 84-year-old grandmother Lillian Bunsee was bitten to death by a pitbull which escaped the family’s kennel at La Seiva Road, Maraval. No criminal action was taken against anyone in that case.

Last week, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the Government would be moving for the immediate proclamation of some aspects of the Dog Control Amendment Act.

The Act was passed in the Senate by 15 votes for/ 8 against/ and five abstentions. All 15 government senators voted in favour of the measure, while all six PNM senators along with two Independents — Senators Elton Prescott and Ian Roach voted against and five Independents — Senators Subhas Ramkhelawan, Helen Drayton, Rolph Balgobin, Dhanayshar Mahabir and David Small — abstained.

Ramlogan said he gave instructions for the regulations to be prepared in consultation with the Ministry of Local Government. “I also intend to proclaim with immediate effect, some aspects of the law, for example the criminal offence for those persons who abandon their pitbulls in the streets. 

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