NEW YORK --An elderly woman was killed and her son with special needs was mauled in Queens by a dog she was planning to return.
Louise Herminda, 75, was attacked by the mastiff Monday in her 27th Street home near 38th Avenue in Long Island City just after midnight. Police said she suffered trauma to her upper torso area, and she was pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian Hospital about 6 a.m.
Her 39-year-old son, who has autism, sustained non-life threatening injuries to his lower left leg after also being attacked, police said.
Herminda was planning to return the dog because it was too aggressive and uncontrollable, neighbors said. But she apparently waited too long.
Neighbor John Brien said the same dog attacked a neighbor's dog 10 days ago while being walked on a leash. He said the mastiff went after a small terrier and wouldn't let go.
"He just pounced on it and started chewing it like a rag doll," Brien said. "It started ripping it to bits. We tried to jump in, the owner of the white dog got bit on the hand."
Herminda's next-door neighbor, Rosa Ortiz, said that attack was what led Herminda to decide to get rid of the dog.
She said she was the first one to get to the house after the attack, and described the scene as horrifying.
"When I saw her there, it broke my heart," Ortiz said. "She was all bloodied. Her head, her arms. It was really bad. It was a tragedy."
The dog was sedated by New York Police Department Emergency Service Unit officers and was in the custody of Animal Care and Control of NYC.
Animal Care and Control said the dog was adopted from them almost 6 years ago when it was about 1-year-old at the time.
Neighbors said the mastiff was one of up to 10 dogs living in the basement of the home.
"When you put a large group of dogs together they have to be watched very carefully to make sure they aren't attacking one another and they really need to be under proper supervision," said Jean Shafiroff, an animal advocate and ambassador with the American Humane Society.