A 63-year-old woman was jogging near her Littlerock, California, home on Thursday morning when she was attacked and killed by four loose Pit Bulls, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. The victim’s identity was not immediately disclosed, but Sheriff’s deputies said members of the woman's family told them that she walked daily in the neighborhood.
The attack occurred on May 9 in the small, unincorporated community of Littlerock, near Palmdale, in the Antelope Valley, Captain Mike Parker said. Littlerock is approximately 65 miles northeast of the city of Los Angeles.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station received a 911 call from a motorist to report that a woman was being attacked by four dogs by the side of the road at 116th Street East and Avenue S in Littlerock. The witness said she continuously honked her horn to try to get the dogs to stop mauling the victim.
Captain Parker stated that when a sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene a few minutes later, he found the woman being attacked by one Pit Bull, which repeatedly circled and moved aggressively toward him as he approached. The deputy said the dog even tried to attack his car. He fired his handgun twice at the animal, apparently missing, before it ran into the desert. There was no sign of the other three dogs at that time.
The victim had suffered extremely serious injuries and died in the ambulance while being rushed to a nearby hospital, Parker told reporters. The Los Angeles County Coroner will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control was also notified, and members of the Major Case Unit responded to the scene from the Lancaster Animal Care Center. Director Marcia Mayeda of the DACC states that Animal Control Officers were also deployed from other shelters, and a total of nine animal-control vehicles with teams of two officers each joined with sheriff’s deputies to conduct a search for the tan-colored Pit Bulls.
"Sheriffs deputies are knocking on doors in the neighborhood, patrolling and warning people in the area," Parker said, as a sheriff’s helicopter also circled over the area.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, in whose district the attack occurred, within hours offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the four dogs.
Later, Sheriff's detectives, aided by Los Angeles County animal control officers, served a residential search warrant on a home on the 37300 block of 115th Street, Littlerock, which resulted in removing eight dogs—six Pit Bulls and two mixes--a sheriff's spokesman said in a statement.
It was not yet known if those were the dogs involved in the fatal attack, the spokesman said. Blood was found on several of the dogs and at the home, and DNA testing will be used to determine whether the dogs taken into custody were involved in the death of the 63 year-old woman, according to a KTLA News report.
During the search of the residence, the Sheriff’s Office reports that detectives also discovered a “marijuana grow” on the property. A 29 year-old male arrested at the property for cultivation of marijuana is reportedly also the owner of the dogs.
DACC Director Marcia Mayeda said the department previously had reports of dogs at that location, and with the same physical description, being involved in attacks on two horses ridden by equestrians; however, a positive identification could not be made.
She expressed her sympathy for the family that suffered such a tragic and disturbing loss and assured residents that public safety remains a top priority of the Department of Animal Care & Control.
Mayeda stated the DACC Safer Neighborhoods Program encourages community members to report any dogs that are a nuisance or act in a threatening manner, whether or not they have yet caused any physical damage to a human or other animal. She said that, upon receiving such a complaint, an officer will be dispatched to the location to discuss with the dog owner how he/she can better confine or control their pet and checking on whether the dog is spayed/neutered and licensed.
She also said that the department follows up on reports of dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs and conducts hearings to assure such animals are identified, hearings are promptly conducted, and the dogs are properly confined to avoid tragedies in the community such as just occurred.
Residents who live near the site of the attack said stray dogs are constantly roaming the area and have attacked people before. “It’s really scary,” Diane Huffman, of Littlerock, told KABC-TV. “I don’t know what to think. I really think I’m going to be getting a gun to protect myself.”
The investigation into the circumstances of the attack on the Littlerock woman will continue and owners of the dogs who attacked and killed her could face charges in this case, Captain Parker said.