As one of the pitbulls grabbed onto her neck, Denise Rackal, 46, of Indian Trail Village, Couva, screamed for her life and attempted to push the dog away. The other four dogs attacked, biting into different parts of her body. The incident occurred at about six o’clock opposite Bengal Avenue, Thirteen Street. The owner of the pitbulls works at a police station in Central Division.
According to police, Rackal who worked with Personal Safety and Security Training Company Limited, was walking along the road when she was first attacked by a white pitbull. Police officers said four other pitbulls joined in the deadly attack, mauling Rackal as she writhed on the ground in agony and fought desperately for her life.
In the end, the mother of two succumbed to multiple bite and rip wounds. Blood poured out of her body even as the dogs continued biting into her.
Investigators told Newsday they received reports from residents that these pitbulls were behind the attack and death of 15 dogs last October. The residents further claimed to investigators that this was the third attack on humans, but the first fatality.
Police officers led by ASP Celestine Phillips arrived on the scene along with the District Medical Officer who ordered the body removed to the Forensic Science Centre in St James. Rackal worked at the security firm for the past three years. Officers were seen measuring the height of the perimeter wall of the property where the pitbulls live, which is constructed of concrete and wire fence.
Newsday understands that investigators have already conducted a preliminary interview with the dogs’ owner and are yet to interview his two sons. Three residents, including Police Constable Ryan Isaac of the Port-of-Spain Division, witnessed the attack.
PC Isaac said the attack happened “very quickly” and he could not have done anything to save the woman. “The policeman who owns the pitbulls, his two sons were at home and they ran out and tried to get the attention of the dogs away from the woman. One of the boys was too frightened to approach the pitbulls and remained on the fence trying to call the dogs back into the yard. “The other son went close enough and screamed at the dogs, trying to get their attention. But it was to no avail. As I walked out of my house, I just saw the leader of the pack, a white pitbull push open the gate and run out. Eventually, after much coaxing by the two boys, the dogs left the bleeding woman alone and went back into the yard. The boys then called the dogs in the house and locked themselves in,” PC Isaac said. Rackal was left alone on the road, blood streaming from her body.
Rackal’s husband, Lionel was inconsolable when he arrived at the scene. “Oh God! Is this a dream? Am I dreaming? Why this had to happen? Oh God, why? Those dogs should be put to death immediately...they took my loving wife’s life,” he sobbed.
Staring in disbelief at his wife’s body on the road, Lionel said he did not know how he would break the news of Denise’s death to their daughter. “My son knows already...I have to go and find my daughter and tell her what happened to her mother. How am I going to do that? I don’t have her new cellular number. I have to go and find her and tell her this,” he cried.
Scores of angry residents gathered outside the home of the owner of the pitbulls and shouted at the two boys saying they should let the pitbulls out of the house so the dogs could be photographed by media photographers. The two boys and the pitbulls remained inside the tightly shut house. Newsday understands that the police corporal was not home at the time of the attack and when he heard the news, went to the scene but was quickly whisked away by his police colleagues to the Chaguanas Police Station.
Resident Susan Rivas stood near the house of the pitbulls and shouted, “These dogs must be killed. The owner must face the consequences of his dogs’ actions. A woman is dead.”
Rivas told investigators that her 19-year-old son, Scherade Rivas, was attacked by the same pitbulls two years ago. “I still have his bloody clothes. I made a report to the Chaguanas Police Station and nothing was done...nothing. Look what happened this morning. These same dogs killed an innocent woman who was on her way to work, to earn money to see about her family. I am not afraid to speak out and ask for these dogs to be put to death,” Rivas said.
Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Programme Project Manager, Christopher Booker, who is currently in charge of the housing development in the area told Newsday that he spoke to the owner of the pitbulls last week. “It is very sad to see what happened here today. Just last week I spoke to that man about his dogs and nothing was done,” Booker said.
On April 8, a homeless man who lived in the San Juan market and was known only as “King” was mauled to death by two Rottweilers while picking limes from a tree at Fifth Street, San Juan.
In another dog attack, four-year-old Ezekiel Renne Cambridge was almost mauled to death on April 12 by two German Shepherds (one a mixed-breed). Efforts to reach Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs for a comment on the incident yesterday were unsuccessful.