PALMDALE (CBSLA.com) — DNA testing was being conducted on several pit bulls Friday after a 63-year-old jogger was mauled to death in the high desert.
The attack happened around 9:30 a.m. Thursday at 116th Street East and Avenue S in Littlerock, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Palmdale Sheriff’s deputies received a 911 call about the attack and arrived to find a pack of dogs mauling Pamela Marie Devitt of Littlerock. A deputy fired rounds into the air, causing the dogs to flee into the desert.
Devitt “was dragged 50 yards, scalped and her arm removed. We’ve gotta do something about it; they’re killing machines,” Tony Bell, spokesperson for LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, said.
Devitt died on the way to the hospital.
Reporting for KCAL9, Jeff Nguyen said Devitt was the mother of two and had one grandchild.
A retiree who loved to garden, she routinely took walks and jogged near her home.
The victim’s husband, Ben Devitt, said “She had an iPod. I think that’s how they took her by surprise. Because my wife is not a weak person and I’m sure if she was aware of the dogs she would’ve been able to fend them off.”
He said Sheriff’s detectives came to his door when he came home last night from work “and they handed me her iPod. They asked me if I could identify it, which I could, because it was hers.”
The victim’s husband doesn’t blame the dogs. “I blame the people who don’t take responsibility for their animals,” he said.
Authorities located eight dogs – six pit bulls and two mix breeds – at a residence in the 37300 block of 115th Street, about a quarter mile from the attack, KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports.
“We got some information from Animal Control and the community that this house has contained pit bulls that have been aggressive in the past,” Lt. John Corina said.
A 29-year-old man was arrested after deputies discovered a marijuana grow on the property. He will not been charged in the attack until DNA testing can prove his dogs mauled Devitt, officials said.
The dogs were taken into custody by the Department of Animal Care and Control.
“They are all housed in individual cages so we are able to hold them safely and securely with out putting anyone in danger,” Director Marcia Mayeda said.
The coroner is working to determine the exact cause of the woman’s death. The dogs could be destroyed if DNA is linked to the animals.
Supervisor Antonovich’s office says this incident points out the need to change state law regarding the aggressive dogs to make communities safer.
“To ask state legislature to allow local government to pass their own ordinances, breed specific if you will. We’re not talking about bans necessarily. We’re talking enhanced enforcement on pit bulls and the owners,” Bell said.
Epi Maldonado says he saw video of the seized dogs last night and recognized one of them. He says he was attacked by the animals near the suspect’s home in January.
“My friend and I were riding the horse. The dogs were attacking my horse. They bite me close to the shoes. So they don’t hurt me because I got the shoes but they bite my horse very bad,” Maldonado said.