Grandmother killed in dog attack ‘likely to have been breaking up fight’

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A grandmother killed in a dog attack is likely to have been trying to break up a fight between two American bulldogs before one turned on her, an inquest has heard.

Ann Dunn, 65, was found collapsed with “catastrophic injuries” in the Liverpool home she shared with seven dogs on October 3 last year, the hearing at the Gerard Majella Courthouse was told on Tuesday.

Senior coroner for Liverpool and Wirral Andre Rebello said: “She was looking after family dogs at her home. More likely than not she separated two dogs from fighting, securing one in the kitchen.

“The other dog has then attacked her, causing severe, fatal injuries.”

Mrs Dunn, whose occupation was given as domestic, had been due to collect her grandchild from school in the afternoon of October 3 last year and when she did not arrive family members went to her home in St Brigid’s Crescent, Kirkdale.

Mr Rebello said: “They’ve looked through the letterbox and saw Ann lying in the hallway, unresponsive and she was in a pool of blood with blood on her body.” 

The inquest, attended by Mrs Dunn’s siblings, heard she was pronounced dead by paramedics at about 4.30pm.

Reading police reports, Mr Rebello said there were five adult American bulldogs, belonging to Mrs Dunn’s son Stephen, living in the house, as well as a Jack Russell-crossbreed and a 10-week-old Labrador.

On the day of her death, her son left the house shortly after 5am, when he said all the dogs were fine, and her husband, Stephen senior, left for work at 6.40am.

The court heard Mr Dunn junior said the dogs had not been violent towards humans before, although about eight months before his mother’s death two of the adult males, Cairo and Bronx, began fighting with each other and he was injured while trying to separate them.

At 1.20pm, Mrs Dunn phoned her son and said she was going to let Bronx out of the bedroom, where he had been kept, because he had been crying.

He advised her to keep the dog separate from Cairo so the two dogs did not fight, the inquest heard.

Mr Dunn junior was arrested on suspicion of being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control at 5.50pm that day and told officers: “My mum’s just died, you have no respect.”

When interviewed he provided a prepared statement in which he denied breeding dogs or having a website advertising dog breeding.

He said all dogs were chipped and registered but refused to provide chip details, the inquest was told.

He agreed to sign over the five adult bull-breeds to police and the dogs were euthanised, Mr Rebello said.

The inquest was told following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service no further action was taken against Mr Dunn Junior.

A post-mortem found Mrs Dunn’s cause of death was multiple dog bite injuries.

Mr Rebello recorded a narrative verdict into her death, telling the inquest he did not consider it an accident or misadventure.

He added: “These are very, very powerful animals and the amount of damage caused to Ann is so significant I can’t even begin to describe it in court.

“Hopefully people will be aware that dogs of this size are probably not best kept in this number in a domestic setting.”

He said it was not against the law, but “not everything has to be against the law to be unwise”.

Following her death, Mrs Dunn’s family described her as a “one in a million mum”.

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