Horrified neighbors walking past the yard of a family of Pit Bull breeders watched helplessly as one of the dogs killed the family’s 82-year-old grandmother, Lillian Bunsee, shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday. Their efforts to distract the dog by throwing stones at it were in vain. The female Pit Bull pinned the elderly woman to the ground and savagely bit her throat and tore at her body, the Trinidad Express reports.
The dog let go of Bunsee only after police arrived and shot it six times. After the first two shots the dog was still biting the woman, like the shots did nothing to it, said a witness. The police had to shoot it four more times before it stopped.
Investigators said the dog was roaming the yard freely; however, one report indicated that the dog had escaped from its kennel.
The attack took place on La Seiva Road in Maraval, which is one of the northern suburbs of Trinidad's capital, Port of Spain.
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Some neighbors said yesterday was the second time the elderly woman had been attacked by her family’s dogs. The dogs are so vicious that even the owner’s father has to call his son to meet him by the gate because he afraid of the dogs,” one resident said.
Another resident, who wished to remain unidentified, claimed Bunsee’s relatives had been breeding Pit Bull terriers for some time and estimated that at least ten dogs were being kept on the property.
The residents said they were concerned about the number of dogs but there had been no attacks on neighbors or pedestrians, so they did not complain to authorities.
Several of the dogs were locked in cages and kennel in the garage area. Near Bunsee’s house there were bloodstains on the walls where the Pit Bull was killed and where Bunsee’s body remained after the attack, until a district medical officer (DMO) pronounced her dead at the scene.
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Family members told police that the dogs’ owner conducted “aggression and obedience” training with the animals in the yard in preparation for sale.
“With those types of dogs, the high-potency dog food they were using and that training, that whole situation was a time bomb waiting to explode,” one man said. He said he felt Pit Bull owners should not breed and train their animals in residential communities.
“This is not the proper place for dog-breeding and training. That should be done at a private facility far away from people and children,” another resident said.
Police also arrested one of the dogs’ owners, a 32-year-old relative of Bunsee. He remained detained at the Central Police Station, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, for questioning by detectives of the Port-of-Spain CID.
Neighbor George Hogan, who said he survived an attack by the dogs, called for them to be put down. A senior police source said investigators planned to the Police Service’s Legal Department later this week to determine whether criminal charges could be brought. One of the owners was not charged because he was not present at the time of the attack, according to the Guardian.
After the mauling, the dog owner left seven of his nine remaining dogs in the care of Dr. Azizul Rahaman at the Jones Animal Clinic, who said the owner had not decided whether he would take the dogs back or if he would euthanize them.
Dr Azizul Rahaman confirmed that the breed of these dogs would be subject to the recently enacted Dog Control Act.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was contacted by the Trinidad Express and said the Dog Control Act was passed on the last day of the parliamentary session.
“This bill is clearly needed,” he said. “I would like those persons who argue that there should be no legislation to control these dangerous dogs to pay a visit to the relatives of victims to explain their position and to offer some condolence…and compensation.”
Officials are discussing whether the owner of the dog who killed Lillian Bunsbee could be charged under the new law, which follows.
--- 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.