PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK/CNN) – A volunteer for an organization that rescues dogs of the Akita breed was attacked and killed by a dog she was trying to rescue while socializing with it.
When officers arrived at the scene Wednesday, they found 69-year-old Carol Harris, a regular volunteer with the dog rescue group Akita Advocates, in the dog exercise area of a boarding kennel.
Police say Harris had significant injuries and that those injuries appeared consistent with dog bites.
An employee at the kennel, which rents spaces to rescues like Akita Advocates at reduced rates, discovered the victim.
"The dog appeared to be covered in something that looked like blood to him, and he then discovered the woman,” said Jose Santiago with Maricopa County Animal Care.
Harris was rushed to the hospital but later died, police say.
The dog was an Akita that belonged to the rescue group.
Police say Harris was trying to socialize the dog in the kennel’s back play yard when it turned on her.
"She volunteers regularly, multiple times a week, has been doing it for years,” said Greg Donahue, owner of the boarding kennel.
Donahue says there were no witnesses, but when they saw the dog running off leash, they went to check on Harris.
"It's so tragic, a lot of tears today, a lot of upset people who have never seen anything like this ever,” Donahue said.
The kennel owner says he is processing the event before he makes any decisions about the business’ relationship with rescue groups in the future.
Harris’ husband, Kenneth Harris, says he and his wife have four foster Akitas and two of their own. He plans to keep them and doesn’t want anyone to blame the breed for his wife’s death.
The dog involved in the attack was euthanized Thursday and taken to the state lab for rabies testing.
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