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from The Journal News (NY)


Landlord's dog kills Cortlandt woman



(Original publication: May 18, 2003

A 75-year-old Cortlandt woman died Friday night after being attacked by a pit bull while the owner sustained multiple injuries trying to restrain the dog, state police said yesterday.

Bonnie Page of 84 Wharton Drive died after losing massive amounts of blood. Nancy Delaney, her landlord, was treated for lacerations to her arms and legs and released from Hudson Valley Medical Center.

State Police Investigator Steven G. Listner of the Cortlandt barracks said the 2-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, a type of pit bull, is being held at the Peekskill police station until a decision is made on what to do with the dog.

The attack occurred when Page, who had returned from shopping, visited Delaney, who resides in the same two-story house, at 7:30 Friday night, police said. Delaney was sitting in her living room with the dog on her lap. As Page was removing the items from her shopping bag, the dog suddenly attacked her and bit her face.

Delaney struggled to remove the dog, eventually grabbing the hind legs of the animal, wrestling it down to the ground and locking it in a bedroom, Listner said.

"The dog has no history of violence. All the neighbors stated that it was very friendly," Listner said. "We don't know the reason for the attack."

Listner said the Westchester County District Attorney's Office is assisting with the investigation. Officials are waiting to see if Delaney will euthanize the dog, or if a court order will be needed to put it down and if charges will be filed.

No one answered the door at Delaney's home last night, and there was no listing for a phone number in her name. A ceramic dog resembling a Labrador retriever stood in the front yard of her home yesterday, which is one in a cluster of about 10 homes on a quiet, dead-end street.

Neighbors recalled the dog as very obedient, but few knew much about Page or whether she had family in the are.

"My daughter used to pet that dog," neighbor Sherri Kotash said. "I don't know what happened. It must have just snapped."

- Kotash said the dog was so well behaved that it would sit by the side of the road even as cars passed by. Delaney had another dog previous to the pit bull that had died, she said. Kotash thought the new dog had arrived less than six months ago.

"It is such a horrible thing to happen," Sherri's husband, George Kotash, said. "You would never think something like that could happen. We are still in shock."

The Kotash's daughter, Ashley, said she spoke to Delaney shortly before the attack happened. "I asked her if she was getting along with her new dog, and she said yes," Ashley said.

Pit bull is a generic name applied to several breeds, including the American Staffordshire terrier and the American pit bull terrier.

Fatalities stemming from dog bites or attacks are rare, but they do happen.

In perhaps the most high-profile case of its kind, 33-year-old Long Island native Diane Whipple was mauled to death in 2001 in her San Francisco apartment building by two massive Presa Canario dogs. The dogs were owned by a couple who also lived in the building.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, more than 4.7 million people a year are bitten by dogs in this country and 10 to 20 people die each year. Most victims are children. From 1999 to 2001, 33 people died after dog bites, 24 of them under 12 years of age, the Humane Society said.

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