A woman who died alone at home was found partially eaten by her pet dogs who had been trapped with her body for at least a week, according to authorities.
Worried neighbors called the police after noticing a foul smell emanating from the 67-year-old’s apartment in Santa Rosa, Argentina, and officers made the grim discovery after entering her home to investigate.
The woman has been identified as Ana Inés de Marotte, according to the Argentine newspaper La Unión, which reported that she had suffered from Alzheimer’s before her death and was apparently estranged from her daughter.
Commissioner Fernando Martín Cortez, of the Second Section of Santa Rosa Police, said Marotte was discovered lying dead on the floor and confirmed that her pets had eaten part of her face and arms.
“Inside there were four dogs, another four were outside, the smell was of animal feces. In addition… her body was partially devoured by the animals that lived with her,” according to the police report, cited by La Unión.
Newsweek has reached out to Santa Rosa police for further information.
Other news reports have given a different number of dogs involved. The breed of dogs is not mentioned.
Argentine news cable channel A24 said Marotte was partially eaten by five pets. It quoted prosecutor Óscar Alfredo Cazenave as revealing that Marotte had died as a result of cardiorespiratory arrest. He added that the dogs had eaten part of her face and ears after she passed away.
Marotte’s remains were found on New Year’s Eve, but news of her death was not released in the press until this weekend.
Neighbors reportedly told local reporters they had initially begun worrying about Marotte during the second half of December, when she seemed to have disappeared—but they said she was later found to have been admitted to the Santa Rosa Sanatorium. It remains unclear why she had been at the hospital. The neighbors said they had little contact with Marotte and did not have her cell phone number, so were unable to contact her.
Marotte’s home was in the La Pampa province in central Argentina, while her daughter lives in the city of Catriel in the neighboring province of Río Negro. The pair had not seen one another for nine years, according to La Unión.
A report in National Geographic revealed that there have been several known cases of dogs eating their owners after their death. One of the sources cited, a study of such “scavenging” events compiled in 2015, reviewed 63 cases. Some of the dogs were forced to eat their owners to survive, but others were found to have begun consuming their loved ones almost immediately—it’s thought the biting may have begun as distressed nuzzling in an attempt to rouse their humans. Some 73 percent of cases involved bites to the face, and just 15 percent had bites to the abdomen—which is the area of their prey’s body usually consumed in the wild.
However, such cases remain relatively rare. Dog attacks on the living are far more common.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. and more than 800,000 receive medical attention as a result, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last month, two pitbull-type dogs managed to get into a school playground and mauled 18 pupils and three teachers in Springfield, Missouri, just days before Christmas.
But dogs can be selfless too. A video of a German shepherd saving a 6-year-old boy from a neighbor’s dog that tried to attack him went viral recently. The footage racked up 23.5 million views after it was posted on TikTok.