Feral dogs are blamed for mauling and killing three adults and a one-year-old baby in Cerro de la Estrella Park in Mexico City. The bodies have been discovered over the past two weeks in the wooded, hilltop park, which is surrounded by the very poor and densely populated Iztapalapa district.
Local residents first found the bodies of a 26-year-old woman, later identified as Shunashi Mendoza, and a 1-year-old child, on December 29, reports the Daily Mail.
The young woman’s left arm had been dismembered and was missing and she was partially eaten. The toddler was also partially eaten, and medical examiners later determined that both had bled to death.
Then on Friday the bodies of two more victims were found—a teenage couple that had also bled to death.
In that second attack, 15-year-old Alejandra Ruiz and her boyfriend Samuel Martinez, 16, had gone to the park on Friday afternoon. Around 7:00 p.m., she called Diana Ruiz, her sister, and was pleading for help.
A heart-wrenching account was provided by Diana Ruiz, who said Alejandra said, “Several dogs are attacking us, help me!' The girl screamed and the call suddenly stopped. In an interview with Milenio TV News, Ruiz said she thought her sister was joking.
Despite the call, Diana Ruiz said she still doesn't believe her sister was killed by dogs. 'What kind of dog can tear the skin from your whole arm and leave just bone and, if it was an attack dog why didn't it attack her neck?' Ruiz asked. 'What's most shocking is that one of her breasts was mutilated.'
She said she later visited the place of the attack and saw no pools of blood. 'There needs to be a thorough investigation,' she added.
'It's not the behavior of street dogs to kill humans,' said Antemio Maya, president of the Street Dog Protection Association in Mexico City, who also doubts that dogs killed the people found in the park.
But, Mexico City Public Safety Secretary Jesus Rodriguez told Milenio TV that the suggestion that the bodies were just dumped in the park is not consistent with the evidence.
Rodriguez said the bite marks suggest that at least 10 dogs were involved in the attack and that some wounds were inflicted while they were alive and others after they had died, according to the medical examiner’s report.
At least 100 police officers were scouring the park in search of wild dogs. They had trapped 25 by Monday night, including 10 females, eight males and seven puppies. The dogs had been living in caves and crevices in the park, officials said.
Rodriguez warned visitors to stay away from the park until all dogs in the area are trapped and checked to see if they were involved. Experts are testing the dogs' hair for traces of human blood and will also test their stomach contents. Authorities did not say what they would do with the animals.
Antemio Maya, president of the Street Dog Protection Association, said authorities should focus on sterilizing pets and educating people about pet ownership instead of spreading the idea of “killer animals.”
“A lot of people get tired of their dogs and they simply throw them on the streets,” he said. “This is going to create a terrible hate for street dogs and that's going to lead to even more abuse.”
The large population of stray dogs has long been a problem in Mexico City.
A 2008 study said that there were more than three million of them living on the streets, but a more recent estimate by the capital's authorities suggested the 120,000 figure, according to the BBC.
Maya and other animal rights activists are urging the authorities not to kill the dogs, but instead to spay and neuter them and fine them homes or just allow them to return to the park.