BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– A 93-year-old woman was mauled by a pit-bull while walking in Branford, Sunday.
Police say just before 2 PM, the mixed breed pit-bull broke free from inside its owner’s home and attacked the woman, Rita Pepe, as she was walking at the intersection of Harbor Street and McKinnel Court.
Several neighbors came to victim’s aid and began fighting off the pit-bull using her cane and a baseball bat until the owner could subdue the dog.
Bill Cronin, who came to Pepe’s aid said that if no one was there to help, the dog would have killed her.
“A large dog emanated from the back of [the] home, and we thought it was chasing a fire truck,” Cronin said. “But then it made an immediate right turn and took this elderly woman down like a wounded animal.”
The elderly woman was transported by ambulance to the hospital. She sustained massive amount of trauma to her lower left leg and later underwent surgery for serious injuries.
The pit-bull was quarantined by Animal Control Officers at the Branford Animal shelter.
The dog’s owner, 49-year-old Matthew Radulski, had caged the pit-bull by the time police arrived.
“The dog was able to break free from the home, it was a new animal into the home, so it doesn’t appear as though there was any intent on the owner’s behalf,” said Captain Geoffrey Morgan of the Branford police department. Neighbors said that as far as they know, the dog didn’t have a history of aggression. The owner had just gotten it months ago.
“The owners were usually very diligent. They always had him on a leash, they were always training him,” said neighbor Charlie Davis. “From what I know, they actually even hired a professional trainer to work with the dog.”
Neighbors said that just about every day, Mrs. Pepe went for a walk to the end of the block. They said it was hard to imagine that something terrible could happen just a short distance from her home.
“She is just a big character in the neighborhood,” said Davis. “We’re all disappointed, and sad that it had to happen. We hope she makes a full recovery.”
Police said Mrs. Pepe is recovering in the hospital with serious wounds from the bites to her leg and she may need plastic surgery to recover.
“I just think it’s sad, really,” another neighbor said. “The people who own the dog are great people, they never would have gotten that dog if they knew it was going to do this.”
The dog is at animal control under quarrantine, where it will remain for the next two weeks while a decision on what to do with it will be made.