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Pitbull that fatally mauled 95-year-old woman lived with former state rep, animal rights activist

Christine Dempsey, The Hartford Courant on

Published in News & Features

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A 95-year-old woman died after being mauled by a pit bull at a former state representative's house in Suffield.

Janet D'Aleo of Enfield died at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield after being bitten Wednesday, police said Friday. They said the dog lived at a home at 584 Thrall Ave., which is the home of former state Rep. Annie Hornish, an animal rights activist.

D'Aleo had been visiting a friend -- Hornish's mother -- at the home when the dog, a male pit bull/pointer mix, bit her on her lower extremities, causing "substantial and severe injuries," Chief Richard Brown said. The dog has been quarantined.

Investigators are still trying to find out what prompted the dog to bite D'Aleo and are looking into the animal's background. The Hornish family has had the 4-year-old dog for several months, and in that time police have not received any complaints about it, he said.

"The detective assigned and our animal control officer are still working to gather additional information before drawing any conclusions," Brown said. "We're trying to find out about the pedigree of this animal. If it was a rescue, where did it come from?"

It's too early to determine whether there will be any arrests, he said.

"We don't make an assessment of whether probable cause exists for an arrest until we have all the facts," the chief said.

D'Aleo had been visiting Annie Hornish's mother, Agnes Wosko, Brown said. He isn't aware of any children living in the house or witnessing the bloody mauling.


Annie Hornish was a member of the state House of Representatives from 2009 to 2011. She is listed online as the Connecticut Senior State Director of the Humane Society of the United States.

During her time in the legislature she worked to fight animal cruelty, opposing puppy mills and the sale of shark fins.

According to police, dispatchers received a call about the attack at 2:53 p.m. Wednesday. The caller said the woman had been bitten and was bleeding.

First responders saw that her injuries were life threatening and she was rushed to the hospital, where she died.

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