By Nalinee Seelal Tuesday, August 27 2013
A vicious brown pitbull named “No Mercy” lived up to her name yesterday when the dog savagely mauled to death grandmother, Lillian Bunsee, 82, as she was about to feed it at her home in La Seiva Road, Maraval, yesterday.
Shortly after the attack, police officers arrived and found the dog still savagely biting the woman prompting them to fire three shots to the animal’s head but it did not stop pulling at her body.
Enraged, the dog turned and ran towards the officers who fired repeatedly until the dog was dead.
Bunsee’s death evoked widespread grief in the community where she lived, and scores of neighbours gathered outside her home to look on as the body of the frail woman lay on the ground semi-nude as an undertaker and police officers gathered to carry out their work.
The elderly woman is the sixth person to be killed by a dangerous dog, namely pitbulls, since 1998, although ten persons survived attacks by dangerous dogs in the last three years alone.
According to police reports, at about 8.30 am Bunsee, who lived at the two-storey house with her twin grandsons Damian and Christian Singh, 33, was about to feed “No Mercy”, a female American Bully, owned by Damian, when the dog began attacking her.
An eyewitness, who identified himself as Akil, said as Bunsee approached “No Mercy’s” kennel, the dog broke free and lunged at her. The dog began biting Bunsee on her neck, and she screamed out. The eyewitness said he stood in shock, as he saw two neighbours hurling bricks at the dog but that did not stop the animal from its attack on the woman.
A passer-by and another man also climbed a wall on to the roof of the house and began pelting stones at the pitbull, but the dog kept biting Bunsee until she stopped moving.
Alvin Ragoo, a neighbour, said he saw the dog next to the body as the two men on the roof continued to pelt stones at the animal.
“I used my cellphone and alerted the St Clair police who arrived minutes later and shot the dog which ran a short distance and collapsed close to the stairway of the house,” said Ragoo.
He said nine other dogs were in their kennels at the front of the house and posed no danger to the officers and members of the public.
A party of officers from the Port-of-Spain CID led by Acting ASP Ajith Persad, Inspector Powder, Sgt Charles along with PC Aberdeen and others went to the house and cordoned off the area.
By that time, the owner of the dogs, Damian, an IT technician, arrived and looked on in a daze. He and his brother, Christian, were interviewed by Persad and told officers that “No Mercy” was not a pure bred pitbull and never displayed signs of aggression towards Bunsee in the past. However, this was disputed by neighbours who claimed Bunsee was bitten by one of the dogs a year ago.
They also said they begged the brothers to remove the ten dogs to another location because at least two neighbours had been bitten by the animals but nothing was done.
Bunsee’s body was viewed by District Medical Officer Dr Chai Hong but it remained on the scene for several hours before being removed to the Port-of-Spain Mortuary for an autopsy to be done today.
Incidently, Chai Hong slipped and fell at the scene and was assisted by police officers.
Dr Niger Lowhar, a government veterinarian, examined the dog and said it was predominantly of pitbull origin and seemed to be of the American Bully breed. (An American Bully, sometimes called the Bullypit, is a mix of an American Bulldog and American Pitbull Terrier.)
Lowhar also confirmed the dog was shot at least nine times.
After being questioned at the house, the twin brothers were detained at the St Clair Police Station, however Christian was allowed to leave after Damian told officers he was the sole owner of the ten dogs.
Newsday understands St Clair police officers were liaising with the legal department of the Police Service to determine what charges can be laid in this matter.
Garth Thongs, a neighbour and dog owner, said he and others had tried unsuccessfully in the past to convince Damian to stop carrying out aggressive training with the dogs on the compound of the house. He said he advised that obedience dog training be carried out but was not sure if this ever happened.
“I am not blaming the dog, I am blaming the owner and this death should never have occurred,” he said. Thongs said the dogs were used for breeding and may have ingested a steroid in the “high potency” food they were fed.
“They also feed the dogs high potency dog food, which some people have said contains some type of inbred steroid in them and I believe that contributes to dogs becoming even more aggressive than what they are. That goes back to irresponsible dog ownership because you need to do aggression training in another environment, not in their home. They need to give the dogs obedience training,” said Thongs.
He said he supports the dangerous dogs legislation which mandates dog owners to take out expensive insurance coverage on the animals, and penalises the owners with jail time in cases of injury and death to persons.
“I believe that all dog owners should have insurance for their animals. It should be mandatory, that once you own a dog on your property you should have insurance to protect yourself, your household and the public. We as a community spoke to the Singhs about the breeding and aggression training and they took no heed,” said Thongs.
“I feel very sad because I know the woman and the boys and I think this could have been avoided if the right thing was done. I blame the owners not the dog. The dog did what it was trained to do.”
Other neighbours called on Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to explain why the Dog Control Bill 2013, although passed by Parliament, was not yet proclaimed and wanted to know if the authorities were waiting for more persons to be mauled to death before this is done.
A relative of Bunsee, Rishi Singh, said he was not sure what the family would do with the rest of the dogs. Asked how family and friends, were coping, Reshi said, “It was just so sudden. It real hard right now. Right now he (Damian) is answering some questions for the police. That’s all we know right now.”
Newsday understands that late yesterday Damian gave away seven of the nine remaining dogs, comprising mainly of red-nosed pitbulls and American Bullys, to Jones Animal Clinic, located near to the house where his family live.
He kept two of the dogs for security reasons and they were placed in separate kennels at his home. Newsday also understands that Jones Animal Clinic is yet to decide whether or not to put the dogs to sleep or keep them.