PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A postal worker died Monday after being mauled Sunday by several dogs in the Interlachen Lake Estates area, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office identified Pamela Jane Rock, 61, of Melrose, as the mail carrier attacked Sunday afternoon by the dogs after her vehicle broke down.
Deputies said they responded to Walker Drive, found the woman on the ground with severe bleeding and started to provide first aid assistance, including applying tourniquets, until rescue units arrived. Deputies said she was transported to HCA Florida Putnam Hospital by ambulance and then flown to a trauma center in Gainesville in critical condition. She later died around 7:30 p.m. Monday, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office said witnesses told deputies that they heard a scream for help, and when they went outside, they saw five dogs attacking the woman on the ground. According to the Sheriff’s Office, witnesses said that several neighbors tried to pull the dogs off and that one neighbor shot a rifle into the ground to scare the animals. The neighbors and the dogs’ owner, who was among those who rushed to help, had contained the animals by the time deputies arrived at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office said that Animal Control took custody of the five dogs identified in the attack by witnesses and that the dogs will be euthanized. The owner has given up custody of the dogs, which will be humanely euthanized, the Sheriff’s Office said. It’s not clear when they will be put down, as the Sheriff’s Office said the dogs might be needed to provide physical evidence in the active investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office said it and Animal Control has been called to the neighborhood four times over the past three years. Col. Joe Wells, Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, said investigators believe at least some of those calls were in response to the dogs.
Brothers Tyler Neelson and Evan Russo told News4JAX that the dogs have been a nuisance for a while.
“They’re like a pack of hyenas,” Neelson said.
Russo said, “Yeah, they’d tear each other up in the yard.”
News4JAX walked over to the dogs’ owners’ property. It’s surrounded by a fence.
“They just hop it — hop it or go underneath it,” Neelson said.
Russo said, “Yeah, they step on the logs back there and just go straight over it.”
Neelson added that he warned the owner of the dogs that they were terrorizing the neighborhood.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Postal Service were on scene on Tuesday and could be seen snapping photos.
“It’s tragic, sad for the family,” Neelson said.
USPS sent News4JAX the following statement on the employee’s death:
“A postal family member lost her life in a dog bite attack. 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 Sheriff’s Office said the dogs’ owner is cooperating with the investigation and could be facing charges, but as of right now, none have been filed.
6 fatal dog attacks in Northeast Florida since 2007
The death of the postal employee in a dog attack is the second tragedy of its kind in Putnam County in eleven years.
Including the postal employee’s death, there have been six dog attack fatalities in the Northeast Florida area dating back to 2007, according to News4JAX records.
In 2012, a 17-month-old boy returned home with his mother from the store. She was unloading, and the boy wandered across the street into a neighbor’s yard, where a Rottweiler was chained. It fatally mauled the boy.
In 2011, a man was killed by pit bulls in Putnam County.
A 3-day-old infant was fatally mauled by the family dog in Arlington in 2010.
In 2007, a 42-year-old Middleburg woman was attacked and killed by her two pit bulls. She had raised them from puppies. The family had no idea what happened. They came home to find her dead.