ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A woman from Truth or Consequences died after being attacked by a pit bull and three pit bull mix dogs while taking a walk in her neighborhood Easter Sunday, New Mexico authorities said.
Officer James Harrington found four pit bulls mauling Margaret Salcedo, 48, when he arrived in response to a 911 call from a neighbor who heard her screams for help, Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said Tuesday.
A young man driving by told police he tried to get out of his vehicle but the dogs threatened him and he stayed put, Gallagher said.
Harrington couldn't drive the animals off, and had to fire several shots at one of the dogs when it threatened him, the chief said. That animal fled, wounded, and Harrington was able to scatter the remaining dogs.
Harrington and emergency technicians gave first aid to Salcedo, but she died at Sierra Vista Hospital several hours after the attack in the central New Mexico community of about 7,500 people, Gallagher said.
"The wounds were very severe, bite wounds and tearing wounds to her extremities, so there was a lot of blood loss," Gallagher said.
The chief said he did not know Salcedo, but officers were told she does not own a car and walks where she needs to go. She has two grown children, he said.
The dogs' owners were not home when the attack occurred. The yard is fenced, but officers found several areas where the animals could have gotten out and into the neighborhood of single-family homes and mobile homes, Gallagher said.
Once Salcedo was on her way to the hospital, Harrington tracked the blood from the wounded dog and found the animals at their owners' home, Gallagher said. The dog that was shot was dead under the house, he said.
The surviving dogs were taken to the Sierra Animal Shelter, where they are quarantined pending the end of the investigation, Gallagher said.