Two elderly people were mauled, one fatally, by a small pack of dogs that attacked them and first responders who came to their aid Friday in San Antonio, officials said.
Two other people were bitten — one on the hand and the other, a city fire department captain, on the leg, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said at a news conference Friday. Both are expected to recover.
The man who was killed was believed to be about 80 years old, and the woman, who may have been his wife, was critically injured, Hood said.
They may have been visiting from out of town and didn’t appear to be connected to the residence where the dogs lived, officials said.
The owners of the dogs were not identified, but the residence has been the target of dog-related complaints in recent years, officials said.
It appeared the three dogs, described as American Staffordshire Terriers, were off-leash and roaming outside their owner’s property when the attack occurred on a sidewalk about 1:43 p.m., according to Hood and Animal Care Services Director Shannon Sims.
The first city fire rescue crews on scene saw a bloodied man being dragged around a corner by dogs, Hood said. The first responders fended off the canines with pickaxes and pike poles, he said.
“This is not something normal for us,” the chief said. “We don’t usually show up and have to defend patients from animals.”
The man was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Hood said. The woman was also hospitalized and was conscious and in critical condition, he said.
The dogs, two females and a male, are in custody of Animal Care Services, Sims said.
They were expected to stay there until the services’ investigation of the attack was completed, he said.
An Animal Care Services investigation will determine if the owners are prosecuted. Officials on Friday would not say what charges they could face.
Animal Care Services workers seized all the dogs at a property believed to be home of the three terriers, Sims said. One of the three didn’t appear to be involved in the mauling but was rounded up, he said.
In 2021, dogs from the same residence were impounded by Animal Care Services after “fight” in which minor biting was noted, Sims said. The dogs were quarantined but then freed because a case wasn’t possible without an affidavit from a witness.
During the last two years, dogs from the same residence have been the subject of reports of unleashed canines displaying aggressive behavior, he said.
Hood called the incident “horrific” and said firefighters took responsibility for protecting neighbors and themselves from the dogs.
“The firefighters were very heroic in this instance,” he said.