Pembroke, N.C. — A woman killed by a group of dogs in her back yard Tuesday afternoon was trying to rescue a dog that was under attack, authorities said Wednesday.
Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said the woman, whom friends identified as Mary Jo Hunt, 54, tried to fend off the dogs with a rake when they began mauling her.
A neighbor who saw the attack called 911 around 12:30 p.m., but Hunt was dead when deputies arrived.
Friends say Hunt had recently moved into the house, at 17 Sharon Lane, with her sister and that the two took in abandoned dogs and cats for a group called Paws & Claws Inc.
Sealey said Hunt had let a small dog out into the back yard and that some bigger dogs began fighting with it. The smaller dog was also killed.
Nine dogs, which Sealey described as being mixed breeds, were seized from the home.
Bill Smith, director of the Robeson County Health Department, said seven of the animals were pit bulls.
County policy dictates that a dog that causes life-threatening injuries or kills a person is to be put down.
The pit bulls, he said, are candidates for euthanasia, Smith said, but the animal shelter is holding the animals until authorities complete their investigation.
Hunt had worked for about 15 years as a secretary for Hugh Rogers Law in Lumberton.
Rogers said she was a hard worker who adored animals. According to her obituary, she was the mother of three children.