The fatal mauling of a great-grandmother may bring about a revision of dog-owner responsibility laws. Gloria Knowles, 71, lived next door to her daughter, Beverley Mason who
owns five dogs--two French Mastiffs, two dogs described as American bulldogs, and a small mixed breed.
On Tuesday evening, October 30, Ms Knowles went through a gate to the adjoining property to feed her daughter’s dogs, as she often did. But this time the dogs turned on her for no apparent reason and mauled her to death. Mrs. Knowles body was discovered lying in the backyard by her son-in-law Dylan.
Police and paramedics were called just before 6.30 p.m., after neighbors described hearing 'hysterical screaming and barking' from Mrs. Mason's garden in Morden, south London. The widowed great grandmother was declared dead at the scene.
Accountant Kevin Hamilton, who is a neighbor, said he heard screaming from Mrs. Mason's house at 5:15 p.m. but assumed it was one of Beverley's children. But he added, “There were so many dogs something like this was bound to happen.”'
Ms. Knowles had lived in this home with her husband Victor for 40 years, until he died five years ago. The family ran Harrington's pie shop in nearby Tooting, for several generations.
Neighbors told the Daily Mail that Ms. Knowles daughter and her family--which included Beverley’s daughter and her child--moved into the house next door the year after Mrs. Knowles's death. They also confirmed that the gate between the gardens of the two houses was regularly used by Mrs. Knowles to enter and feed the animals. They expressed confusion and shock at the sudden change in the dogs’ behavior.
Nazir Hussein, 65, a friend and neighbor of Knowles, said he was alerted to the attack when he heard Beverley screaming outside the house “The dogs were like family to them,” he said, They were always taking them for walks and they have always been comfortable with dogs.”
However, he admitted that he had long been afraid of the family's dogs, describing them as 'vicious'.
Kevin Hamilton said: “I have lived next door to the family since Beverley was 12 or 13.”She has had dogs her entire life. They were always big dogs as well. "The dogs slept inside, not in kennels, and they are really loved by the family.”
SHOULD THE KILLING OF THE FAMILY’S CAT BEEN A WARNING?
Hamilton described the two mastiffs as large, 'real muscle dogs' with 'enormous chests.’ He said Mason also owned cats, one of which used to sleep with the dogs until it was killed a few weeks ago after the dogs began “playing” with it. “They have a pack mentality. They are not the sort of dogs you would want to mess with,” he added.
Another neighbor said that the family is heartbroken at the thought of having the dogs put down. “"They can’t understand what has happened and the fact that it is the dogs they loved so much that did this makes it even harder.”
The police said they didn't know whether the dogs attacked Ms. Knowles and she had a heart attack or she had a heart attack and then the dogs attacked her but she was in cardiac arrest when emergency responders arrived.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said that an investigation is being conducted and an autopsy will be performed at St. Georges Hospital.”
The police seized the five dogs from the house —describing them as “bulldogs and huge Bordeaux French mastiffs”--and took them to police-approved kennels, according to the Sun.co.uk.
A police spokesman said, “None of the dogs seized are classified as dangerous dogs.” He also stated that nothing will be determined as to the disposition of the animals until a decision about whether there will be criminal proceedings is taken.”
CALLS FOR STRONGER LAWS IN DOG ATTACKS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY
Although all agreed that the circumstances of Ms. Knowles death must be further determined, calls were made the day after Gloria Knowles tragic death for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to change the law to allow dog-control rules to apply on private property as well as public.
Currently, police can only prosecute owners of dogs who harm people if the attack happens in public -and they can only forcibly remove illegal dogs.
Billy Hayes, Communications Workers’ Union general secretary, who has pushed for stronger laws to protect postal carriers and other workers who enter private property said: 'The death of Gloria Knowles is another sad reminder of the need for better dangerous-dog laws.
'If a person is killed by dogs on private property there is almost no chance of prosecuting the owner and getting compensation for victims, regardless of the recklessness of the dog owner and the viciousness of the attack.'
He added: 'This government has procrastinated and steadfastly refused to act on the issue of dangerous dogs while people continue to suffer serious injuries and lose their lives in dog attacks.'