Pamela Jane Rock, 61, died in hospital Monday night after the attack in the town of Interlachen, Putnam County Sheriff’s Colonel Joseph Wells said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Rock’s niece, who was unnamed, told NBC affiliate First Coast News that her aunt’s postal vehicle broke down on Sunday. She said Rock had just recently completed her training as a postal worker when she became stranded in front of a property with five dogs.
Investigators believe the dogs were able to push away rocks at the base of the fence keeping them on their owner’s property, Wells said at the press briefing.
Wells claimed neighbours and the dog’s owner attempted to intervene in the attack when they heard Rock begin to scream.
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“One neighbour brought his firearm along and fired several shots in the air in an attempt to disrupt the attack,” Wells said. “That was unsuccessful.”
When officers arrived at the scene, the dogs had been guided back to their enclosure but had left Rock seriously injured and bleeding on the ground. Officers applied tourniquets and Rock was transported to hospital when medical help arrived.
En route, Rock went into cardiac arrest, but paramedics were able to revive her at the time. The postal worker’s niece claimed Rock had to have one arm amputated.
Rock remained in critical condition until her death.
The dogs, who were of “mixed breed,” have been seized by local authorities and will be euthanized as per Florida law, Wells said. Further information about the animals has not been released.
Wells also revealed at the press conference that animal control officers had visited the dog owner’s home “at least twice” in the past three years. At the time, the dogs had not been deemed dangerous by animal control.
The United States Postal Service issued a statement to NBC mourning the loss of Rock on Tuesday night.
“A postal family member lost her life in a dog bite attack,” the statement said. “The U.S. Postal Service is deeply saddened at the loss of our employee. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and her co-workers at this time.”
The owner of the five dogs is cooperating with police, Wells claimed. An investigation into the incident is ongoing, though the owner may potentially face a misdemeanour charge for failing to “exercise due caution” with the dogs.