Dog expert: What makes a dog turn on its owner?

Woman found dead in woods mauled by dogs

Friends of a Virginia woman who authorities believe was mauled to death by her own dogs while out for a walk are raising doubts about that theory, telling the news media they suspect foul play, and that the victim had previously received death threats. "There were various articles of clothing, underclothing scattered about the area not far from the body and torn into small pieces, there were patches of blood", Goochland Sheriff James Agnew told local Fox affiliate.

"The victim had defensive marks on her hands and arms, trying to keep the dogs away from her, which would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive", Agnew said. According to a Medical Examiner's report, Stephens was mauled to death by her two pit bull dogs. She says the account of what happened doesn't add up. What he found was two dog guarding what he first believed was an animal carcass. He said, "It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims' dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dog".

"I've never heard of something like that happening where the dogs would inflict it and then turn around and change their mind on it", Brooks said.

"They were big, strong, powerful dogs", Sheriff Agnew said. If this is truly the case, how could these loving pit bulls have attacked their owner so viciously? "Were there stray dogs, coyotes [or] something else in the woods?"

"They'd kill you with kisses".

He said one of her friends told an investigator the dogs had been adopted, she thought, through a group that rescues former fighting dogs.

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Stephens was being "for lack of a better term - guarded by by two very large brindle-colored pit bull dogs, who were very reluctant to be caught", Agnew said. Stephens was 5-feet-1 and 125 pounds, weighing roughly the same amount as her dogs.

The sheriff himself seemed shaken recalling the scene, saying it was "absolutely grisly".

"In my 40 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anything like it", Sheriff Agnew said.

The dogs are now held at Goochland Animal Control and the Sheriff's Office said it is seeking to have them both euthanized.

"That's not something I would normally see", she said.

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