Sushila Tripathi, a retired schoolteacher, was on the roof of her house in Lucknow city’s Qaiserbagh area on Tuesday morning when her pet dog attacked her, police said on Wednesday.
Tripathi’s domestic help had found her lying in a pool of blood and informed her son.
“One Sushila Tripathi, 82, of Bengali Tola locality was attacked by her pet dog. Her body was recovered and sent for post mortem examination. We are coordinating with the officials of Lucknow Municipal Corporation regarding the incident,” senior police official Yogesh Kumar was quoted as saying to Press Trust of India.
She was rushed to the hospital where doctors pronounced her dead.
Tripathi lived with her younger son and had two pet dogs including the pit bull that mauled her.
A team of the local municipal corporation visited her residence on Wednesday morning and found the house locked.
“Our team went to the house to check if the family had a licence to keep pit bull dog as a pet. But because the house was locked it could not be ascertained,” said Dr Abhinav Verma, a veterinary officer at Lucknow’s municipal corporation.
Pit bulls are described as a “medium-sized” dog with “a short coat and smooth well-defined muscle structure”, eyes that are “round or almond-shaped” and ears which are “small to medium in length” by the American Dog Breeders Association.
Often perceived as a fierce dog breed, experts say pit bulls are no more or less aggressive than any other dog breed, and that their behaviour depends on how the animal is treated and trained.
“Pit bulls are both friendly and ferocious, as are labradors. It depends on how you rear them,” Dr Vineeta Poojary, manager, Veterinary Services, Humane Society International told The Indian Express newspaper.
“People view certain breeds as more aggressive; when they are reared, they are not thought of as loving, caring animals,” she added.
“There are no particular triggers as such [which could lead them to attack]. I would, however, not advise people to have a big dog in India, because there are a lot of health issues that come with it; but, behavioural issues completely depend on training.”
Another expert, Dr Vinod Sharma of Delhi’s DCC Animal Hospital, said pit bulls should “always be supervised”. “Many people chain them up and do not feed them properly, and that can make them turn ferocious. Many pets are beaten, too. Dogs [like pit bull] must always be supervised, and not left alone at home,” he said.