POSTED: 05:30 p.m. HST, May 09, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 08:50 a.m. HST, May 10, 2013
PALMDALE, Calif. >> Authorities today tried to determine whether pit bulls seized at an alleged marijuana growing house are the same dogs that mauled to death a runner in a Mojave Desert community.
Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide investigators had not announced any DNA match between the six pit bulls seized Thursday and the four believed to have mauled to death the 63-year-old woman in the high desert neighborhood of Littlerock earlier in the day, Deputy Guillermina Saldana said.
A woman in a car saw the dogs attacking the runner Thursday morning in the area 65 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The driver called 911 and honked her horn to try to get the dogs to stop, sheriff's Lt. John Corina said.
An arriving deputy saw a single dog still attacking the jogger and tried to chase it off, Corina said.
"The dog ran off into the desert, then turned around and attacked the deputy," who took a shot at the animal before it ran off, Corina said.
The woman died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital, said Evelina Villa, county animal control spokeswoman.
Her name had not been released by early Friday and the coroner's office still was trying to determine the specific cause of death.
Later Thursday, sheriff's and animal control officials served a search warrant on a home near the site of the attack and took away eight dogs, six of them pit bulls and two of them of mixed breeds.
A 29-year-old man from the house was arrested on suspicion of cultivating marijuana.
It was unclear whether the dogs that attacked the woman had collars or owners.
"In these areas, you might have a situation where people dump animals out in rural areas," said John Mlynar, a spokesman for the nearby city of Palmdale.
People living near the site of the attack said stray dogs constantly roam the area and have attacked people before.
"It's really scary," Diane Huffman, of Littlerock, told KABC-TV. "I don't know what to think. I really think I'm going to be getting a gun to protect myself."
The jogger's death was the latest of at least five deadly dog attacks in California in the past two years.
Last month, Claudia Gallardo, 38, of Stockton, was mauled to death by a pit bull in the front yard of a home where the dog lived.
In February, Elsie Grace, 91, of Hemet, was killed by a pair of pit bulls at a motel.
In June 2011, two pit bulls escaped from their yard and mauled a neighbor in her San Diego backyard. Emako Mendoza, 75, suffered arm and leg amputations before dying months later. The dog's two owners were convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
In June 2012, an 8-month-old boy, Tyzhel Latella McWilliams, was mauled to death by a pit bull at a home in Lemon Grove, near San Diego.