A family of dog breeders was thrown into mourning after one of their pitbull terriers mauled an 82-year-old grandmother to death at their Maraval home yesterday morning.Shortly after 9 am, Lillian Bunsee, of La Seiva Road, was in her yard when a female dog attacked her, pinned her to the ground and began biting her neck.Police said neighbours who were walking in the road saw the attack and began throwing stones at the dog to distract it but their efforts were in vain.The dog let go of Bunsee only after police arrived and shot it six times. Investigators said the animal was roaming the yard freely and was not kept in an enclosure or on a chain.
When a team from the T&T Guardian visited the scene yesterday, some of Bunsee's neighbours expressed shock over the incident while others said they were not surprised since yesterday was the second time the pensioner had been attacked by her relative's dogs."Even the owner's father does have to call his son to meet him by the gate because he afraid of them dogs," one resident said.Another resident, who also wished to remain unidentified, claimed Bunsee's relatives had been breeding pitbull 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 on the property but did not complain to authorities as the dogs had never attacked neighbours and pedestrians in the past.
Several other large dogs, resembling pitbulls, were locked in cages and kennels, in the garage area, while the killer dog's body lay in the yard near Bunsee's house.There were bloodstains on the walls near where the animal was killed and where Bunsee's body remained after the attack until she was removed. The residents claimed the dogs' owner carried out "aggression and obedience" training with the animals on the premises."With those type 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 felt pitbull owners should exercise "responsible dog ownership" and 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.
Bunsee was pronounced dead on the scene by a district medical officer (DMO).Investigators ordered undertakers to remove the dog's carcass from the property. Police said it was expected to be examined by a vet to determine its exact breed.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, up to yesterday evening and was being questioned by detectives of the Port-of-Spain CID.Resident 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 consult lawyers from the Police Service's Legal Department later this week to determine whether criminal charges could be laid.The source said the charges may be laid under the Dangerous Dogs Act of 2000. That act was replaced by the Dog Control Act, which was passed in Parliament last month but which is still awaiting proclamation by the President.
After the mauling, the dog owner left seven of his nine remaining dogs in the care of Dr Azizul Rahaman, of the Jones Animal Clinic, which is about 200 metres away from where the incident occurred.Contacted yesterday evening, Rahaman said the owner decided to remove the dogs in preparation for relatives visiting the family's home for Bunsee's wake and funeral and also because he had received complaints from some of his neighbours after the mauling.Rahaman said the owner had not decided whether he would be taking the dogs back or if he would euthanise them.Insp Powder, Sgt Charles and PC Aberdeen are assisting in the investigation.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, SC, said yesterday amendments to the Dog Control Act will be a "priority item" during the new session of Parliament.His comment come in the wake of the mauling to death of Maraval pensioner Lillan Bunsee yesterday.In a brief telephone interview yesterday evening, Ramlogan said several issues were raised by the Opposition and Independent bench during the debate in the Senate on the new legislation.
He said although the issues were raised, the legislation was nevertheless passed by both Houses of Parliament to prevent the act from lapsing at the end of the last parliamentary session.
"I have received the suggestions from the Independent bench but I am still waiting on the Opposition's responses," Ramlogan said.The legislation, which Ramlogan piloted, is aimed at replacing the Dangerous Dog Act of 2000. The new legislation seeks to classify certain breeds of dangerous dogs and regulate the manner in which they are kept by their owners.The legislation also requires owners to have insurance for the certain dogs classified under the act and, like the older legislation, states penalties for owners whose dogs attack or kill people.