A 75-year-old woman was mauled to death at her Queens home early Monday by a mixed-breed Mastiff she had recently adopted from a local shelter, according to sources familiar with the investigation and neighbors.
Louise Hermida was pronounced dead at a hospital after the attack at her Long Island City home on 27th Street. Investigators say police responding to a 911 call found her with severe trauma to her upper torso.
Her autistic son, 39-year-old Daniel Ferraro, was attacked in the left leg by the dog and was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
Neighbor Rosa Ortiz said Ferraro had rushed to her home in search of help.
"Her son came knocking at my door and said the dog had attacked his mother and she was dying," she told NBC 4 New York. "I said, 'Dying, what do you mean?'"
Ortiz found Hermida lying mauled on the basement floor.
"Her head was with blood. She was just full of blood. It was a mess, a really bad scene to see," recalled Ortiz.
"I'm like, 'Miss Louise, you all right?'," said Ortiz. "She said, 'Yeah, I'm OK,' but she couldn't move, you know, like she was really bad, in really bad condition."
Another neighbor, Luis Tejada, said he saw Hermida being loaded into an ambulance with blood all over her face.
"I didn't know how tragic it would turn out," he said.
The Animal Care Centers of NYC said that the dog has been adopted from one of its shelters nearly six years ago, and that it was about a year old at the time. The mastiff is currently back at the ACC's Manhattan Care Center, a spokeswoman said.
Mastiffs are generally of mild temperament, animal advocates say. They tend to live about 8 to 10 years and can grow to be up to 200 pounds. But a mix could bring in unknown factors.
Hearing barking dogs from her neighbor's home was not unusual, said Ortiz. The elderly Hermida and her son had as many as 10 dogs and cats living with them.
According to the Daily News, the woman had planned to return the adopted dog to the shelter because of its "overly aggressive" behavior.