Farid Benzenati arrived home from work at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday and noticed what appeared to be a pit bull playing with what he called “a large object” in the next backyard. When he took a closer look, it was clear to him the object was a woman’s body.
“I yelled her name,” Benzenati said Thursday. “I saw blood, and the dog was still attacking her.”
Benzenati called police but said it was clearly too late to help the woman, who was later pronounced dead on the scene.
Montreal police Const. Benoit Boisselle said authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy before deciding whether to lay charges in the 55-year-old woman’s death.
Although the victim had several bite marks on her body, Boisselle said it could take a few days before the cause of death is determined.
The tragedy reverberated as far as Quebec City, with Premier Philippe Couillard saying the province would form a working committee to study the rules surrounding dangerous dogs.
Although the province’s public security minister had said earlier in the day it was up to individual cities to pass legislation, Couillard said the province would assume its share of responsibility.
“That’s why we’re going to form a working group with all the concerned parties, (especially) the cities,” he said, adding he felt personally touched by the event.
“Now we’re talking about laws and regulations and ways of dealing with certain breeds of dog but, look, what happened to this woman, it was horrible,” he said.
Police responding to a Wednesday afternoon 911 call found the body in the backyard of her home in the east-end district of Pointe-aux-Trembles.
Authorities said the dog was standing by the body and acting aggressively. It was shot and killed by officers to allow paramedics to approach the woman.
Investigators met with the dog’s owner but no names were released.
The Montreal SPCA issued a statement Thursday calling for more legislation to address the problem of dangerous dogs without targeting any one breed.
“We must focus on effective legislation and practical solutions that will keep our community safe from dog attacks – focusing on responsible pet guardianship and dog bite prevention, rather than the physical appearance of the dog,” the statement read.
The organization called for legislation that targets the “root causes” of aggressiveness, including bylaws addressing sterilization, licensing, education and socialization, and accountability for owners.
Ontario adopted a provincewide ban on pit bulls in 2005. They are also banned in several municipalities in Quebec and across Canada.