Rita Vasquez, 58, died after being attacked by her daughter's pit bull-mix while dog sitting.
Woman Dies in Hospital
Corpus Christi, TX - A 58-year old woman is dead after being attacked by a dog she had been watching for her daughter. On May 31, Rita Vasquez picked up the black-and-white pit bull-mix from her daughter's home to dog sit for the day. The attack occurred at about 11:54 am in the backyard of Vasquez's home in the 6500 block of Lyons Street. Joel Skidmore, the Corpus Christi Animal Care Services program manager, said that Vasquez sustained severe injuries in the attack.
"Sadly, the injuries that the victim sustained were categorized as severe," Skidmore said. The dog in question was still in the backyard when animal care services arrived at the scene, he said. They impounded the dog and brought it to the shelter facility for quarantine. "The owner was very cooperative," he said. She surrendered the dog to our agency. "Animal care services humanely euthanized the dog the same day it happened," Skidmore said. The dog tested negative for rabies.
According to Skidmore, the dog did not have a violent history. Skidmore was resourceful when responding to how his agency investigates severe and fatal attacks involving humans and animals, "It's not based on breed," Skidmore told KIII TV. They examine the circumstances about that specific incident. "Everything's looked at as an individual," he said, such as the victim and the dog involved. In this "specific situation, the dog owner is not facing any repercussions," he said.
The Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet determined the exact cause of death but has said the bite injuries Vasquez sustained were a contributing factor. Vasquez's obituary states that she leaves behind three daughters. One of them, Roxanne, organized a GoFundMe to help pay for funeral costs. "Our beloved Mother, Rita Maria Vasquez, tragically, suddenly lost her life on June 2, 2023," states the fundraiser. It's unclear which daughter owned the attacking dog.
Skidmore also stated in the KIII TV interview that this was the first fatal human mauling that had occurred during his tenure at Corpus Christi Animal Care Services. Our records show that the last case we recorded in Corpus Christi and Nueces County was the death of a woman also named Rita in 2014. Rita Woodard, 64, was attacked by at least four pit bull-mix dogs she was fostering. Her death was ruled, "critical coronary artery atherosclerosis following multiple dog bites."
Family members spoke to KRIS TV. Though no one witnessed the attack, family members speculate that Vasquez was breaking up a fight between the pit bull-mix she was dog sitting and the two chihuahuas in her home when the pit bull-mix turned on her in a "redirected attack" that resulted in severe injuries and her death. Thus far, no evidence has been presented stating that either of the two chihuahuas sustained injuries in this alleged, pre-cursor dog-on-dog attack.
Dog Sitting Fatalities
Vasquez's death marks the fourth fatal dog mauling since March when the victim was dog sitting at the time. In May, 46-year old Tamieka White, a Marion County sheriff's deputy, was killed at her home while dog sitting a pit bull-mix for a friend. In April, 22-year old Dezmond Trawick was killed at his home while dog sitting four pit bulls belonging to his brother. In March, 38-year old Kristen Potter was killed by a pair of great danes she agreed to feed while their owner was away.
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Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.