A 61-year-old woman has died after being mauled by multiple dogs in Putnam County, Florida, over the weekend.
Pamela Jane Rock, an employee of the U.S. Postal Service, was working in the rural town of Interlachen on Sunday afternoon when the attack occurred. Witnesses contacted the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office shortly before 1 p.m. after hearing Rock’s screams and seeing the victim in the road, being attacked by five dogs belonging to a nearby resident.
As neighbors attempted to scare the dogs away by firing a gun, though the attempt was “unsuccessful,” said Colonel Joseph Wells, the Chief Deputy of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, at a press conference Wednesday morning.
Deputies arrived to find Rock bleeding in the street, at which point they administered first aid and applied three tourniquets. By this point, the dogs had already been restrained by their owner and a neighbor, Chief Wells said.
Rock was transported to a local medical center, experiencing cardiac arrest on the way to the medical center. She was later transported to a hospital in Gainesville, where she died Monday evening.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Chief Wells confirmed that animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies had previously been called to the area at least four times over the past three years. Two of those times, the deputies had responded to the same address where the dogs’ owner lived, but Chief Wells could not confirm whether they had responded to concerns over those same dogs.
He added that the dogs had been fenced in, but were able to “move some rocks that the bottom of the fence was lined with” and escape the property.
The owner of the dog could also “possibly” face criminal charges, pending an investigation, Chief Wells added.
The five dogs, meanwhile, will be euthanized according to Florida state law, he said.
A representative for the United States Postal Service said the agency was “deeply saddened” by Rock’s death.
“A postal family member lost her life in a dog bite attack,” reads a statement shared with Nexstar. “The U.S. Postal Service is deeply saddened at the loss of our employee. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and her co-workers at this time.”
USPS added that employees are instructed to use their mail bags as a “soft shield” and are “equipped to carry pepper spray” in the event of dog attacks, but urged homeowners to be responsible for their pets when mail carriers are nearby, suggesting they move dogs to another room, refrain from taking mail directly from a carrier if the dog is close by, or enroll their dog in obedience training.
Pet owners may also be instructed to pick up their mail at a post office if the mail carrier “feels threatened,” according to USPS.
“Unfortunately attacks such as this provide the Postal Service an opportunity to remind dog owners that it is their responsibility to restrain their pet in order to avoid attacks against our employees while they are in performance of their duties,” USPS writes.