Benzenati said he arrived home from work around 5 p.m., and as is his habit, had a quick look outside at the pool in his backyard.
That’s when he noticed movement behind the fence.
“I saw a big dog that appeared to be playing with a large object. I looked closer and saw that the object was really big,” he said.
His fear mounting, Benzenati moved closer.
“That’s when I saw hair,” he said. “It was hard to see, but I knew it was a woman’s body.”
He yelled his neighbour’s name, but there was no reply.
“I saw blood, and the dog was still attacking her,” he said.
Benzenati then ran back into his house and called police.
He described his neighbour as “very nice, always smiling” and said she lived alone.
The dog was new to the neighbourhood, he said. It was only in the past few days that he’d heard it barking.
Police believe the dog may have gone through a hole in the fence from a neighbouring yard.
“When they arrived in the backyard, there was the dog that was pretty aggressive towards police officers,” said Montreal police Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant.
Officers had to shoot and kill the dog in order to reach the woman safely, Brabant said.
“Unfortunately, that lady was pronounced dead on site.”
Brabant said it appeared the dog’s owner wasn’t home at the time of the attack.
Montreal police have now found and spoken with the owner of a dog, which they said was a pit bull.
Const. Benoit Boisselle said later Wednesday the 27-year-old man could face charges of criminal negligence.
An autopsy will be performed on the victim to confirm the cause of her death.
The incident comes on the heels of a City of Montreal plan to overhaul rules regarding “dangerous dogs.”
Last month, the city said it wants to come up with regulations for all 19 boroughs but wouldn’t say if it’s leaning toward an all-out ban on any particular breed.
A spokesperson for Coun. Anie Samson, the member of the city’s executive committee who is responsible for the file, called Wednesday’s attack a “tragic event” and said her office was following the situation closely.