An 84-year-old great grandmother was yesterday mauled to death by a family pitbull.
Lillian Bunsee had never ventured close to the dogs as she had been attacked in the past, but yesterday morning one of the dogs escaped from its kennel and again attacked her, this time killing her.
Neighbours said the dog was one of approximately ten which were bred and being given aggression training in preparation for sale by two of the woman’s relatives.
Never once did the residents hear Bunsee scream for help but only noticed she was being attacked as they walked along the roadway close to her home on La Seiva Road, Maraval.
Police said it was shortly after 9 a.m. that the residents saw the woman on the ground with the dog tearing away at her body. They tried throwing boulders at the animal in an attempt to stop it but their efforts were unsuccessful, said officers.
Investigators said several police officers who were on patrol nearby went to the scene after receiving a report and was only able to have the dog stop biting the woman after opening fire on the animal, shooting it six times.
Residents in the area said the officers had no other option but to kill the dog. The other dogs were all locked away in their kennels, they said.
“After the first two shots the dog was still biting the woman, like the shots did nothing to it. The police had to shoot it four more times before it stopped,” said one man.
The resident, who asked that his name not be published, said regardless of the type, he was always opposed to people giving aggression training to dogs within their own household which is shared with other family members.
He said he was also knowledgeable when it came to the training of dogs and disagreed with the decision of the dog’s owner to carry out the training at the house.
“Aggression training within your own environment and training of dogs within your own household where you have ageable people or family members in your house is a no no. Aggression is not the type of training to do within that environment. High potency dog food and aggression training in the home environment is creating a time bomb and it is just a matter of time before tragedy strikes,” he said.
Detectives from the Port of Spain Criminal Investigations Department (CID) led by ASP Ajith Persad went to the scene and detained the man who owned the dog.
Up to yesterday evening he was in custody at the CID office along St Vincent Street, Port of Spain. Officers said they would be consulting with Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard SC to determine what charges could be laid against the man.
The other owner was not arrested as he did not live on the premises where the incident occurred.
Dr Azizul Rahaman of Jones Animal Clinic examined the dog and confirmed it was one of the dangerous dogs referred to in the Dog Control Bill which was passed in Parliament last month but is yet to be proclaimed, police said.
Rahaman removed some of the animals and locked them away at the clinic yesterday evening. He told the Express the dogs were being temporarily kept at the animal hospital until the other owner makes a decision “on what he is going to do with them”.
“It was not for any legal reason or anything. Relatives and so on would be going to the house to give their condolences and what have you, so we are just keeping the dogs for a little while,” he said.
The other owner said residents no longer wanted the dogs in the area, so he may have to “put them to sleep”.
Contacted via phone yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the Dog Control Bill was passed on the last day of the parliamentary session in order to prevent it from being “lapsed”.
With the passing of the bill, Ramlogan said there was an undertaking within the Parliament that he would accommodate certain amendments based on suggestions from Independent Senators and also from members of the Opposition.
The Independent Senators had already forwarded their suggestions to him, but he was still awaiting the Opposition’s before the Act is proclaimed by President Anthony Carmona.
“This bill is clearly needed. I would like those persons who argue that there should be no legislation to control these dangerous dogs, I would like them to pay a visit to the relatives of victims to explain their position and to offer some condolence. I am calling upon them to go pay them a visit and to offer them some compensation,” said Ramlogan.
Section 19 of the Dog Control Act:
19. (1) Where a class A dog injures a person, without reasonable cause whether in a public place or on private premises, the owner or keeper of the dog commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $100,000 and to imprisonment for five years.
(2) Where a class A dog kills a person or causes the death of a person, without reasonable cause, the owner or keeper of the dog commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $200,000 and to imprisonment for ten years
CLASS A dogs are identified in the Bill as:
1. Pitbull Terrier or any dog bred from the Pitbull Terrier.
2. Fila Brasileiro or any dog bred from the Fila Brasileiro.
3. Japanese Tosa or any dog bred from the Japanese Tosa.