Elderly Florida woman killed by dog, son seriously injured

An elderly Florida woman was fatally mauled by her dog, which also seriously hurt the woman’s son as he attempted to save her.

Carolyn Varanese, 84, was pronounced dead late Friday in Margate, where her dog — identified by cops as a mixed breed — was later found tied up in the back of her home, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Varanese and her son, Joseph Varanese, 57, were both bitten several times during the attack, Margate police Lt. Al Banatte told the newspaper.

Carolyn Varanese, who used a wheelchair, was pronounced dead at the scene, while her son was hospitalized for his injuries before being released Saturday, the newspaper reports.

A family friend told WPLG that Varanese had let the dog sleep in her bed just days earlier. Her son had adopted the animal just several weeks ago from a local rescue group, the friend said.

“He was trying to save his mom and the dog kept going for her jugular,” the man who identified himself only as Jimmy told WPLG. “The dog grabbed her ankles and he started beating the dog with the wheelchair.”

Cops at the scene of the attack.
Cops at the scene of the attack.courtesy WPLG.

What exactly set off the deadly attack remains under investigation, police told the station.

Joseph Varanese had serious injuries following the attack, including wounds to his face, his friend said.

“The dog messed him up pretty good,” Jimmy continued. “His eye is all messed up, his nose, his whole arm is messed up.”

The attack occurred inside the home, WTVJ reports.

Varanese and her son lived there together, neighbors told the Sun Sentinel.

“It killed her? Oh wow,” neighbor Fabian Gonzalez told the newspaper. “I know the woman who lives there was kind of sick. I’ve seen her when they come to take her to the doctor.”

Another neighbor, meanwhile, said Joseph Varanese showed “no emotion or nothing” when he was taken to a hospital following the attack, during which police officers took possession of the dog.

“It was a very calm dog,” neighbor Raheem Menendez said. “It wasn’t aggressive.”

Menendez said he thought the dog was an American Boxer mix, the newspaper reports. Meanwhile, WPLG identified the dog as a pit bull.

A message seeking comment from Margate police was not immediately returned early Monday.

The dog was being held in a kennel operated by Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center as police investigate the incident, the Sun Sentinel reports.


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