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Elderly woman dies after her dog attacks her

Published 11:46 pm, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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  • The house at 75 Judith Terrace in Stratford, where a 91-year-old woman was attacked by her dog. Stella Antanaitis was taken to Bridgeport Hospital after the attack and died from her bite wounds. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
    The house at 75 Judith Terrace in Stratford, where a 91-year-old woman was attacked by her dog. Stella Antanaitis was taken to Bridgeport Hospital after the attack and died from her bite wounds. Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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STRATFORD -- For much of the last eight years, neighbors say Stella Antanaitis rarely stepped outside of her spacious ranch on Judith Terrace.

The 91-year-old widow preferred life inside with her pets.

One of them, purported to be a keeshond mix, is responsible for the woman's death.

Antanaitis died Tuesday at Bridgeport Hospital, where she had been treated since Friday afternoon after her dog ripped off parts of her arms.

Police Sgt. Ariel Leon said the woman was able to dial 911 and report the incident Friday afternoon.

Reports in the Stratford Star that the woman tried to intervene during a fight between her dog and her cat could not be confirmed by police Tuesday.

The dog has since been taken to the Animal Control facility. Employees there referred all comment to police.

In cases with fatal injuries, state statutes require the dog be euthanzied.

"I've been here 27 years, and I never saw her walk that dog," said Olga Figel, who lives two houses away. "I never saw anybody walk that dog. I never saw anybody visit her."

Figel said Antanaitis' husband, George, died several years ago. George Antanaitis, a licensed pharmacist, died in 2006, according to public records.

Figel's comments were echoed by Chris Kwoka, who lives next door and by Barbara and Michael Evanko, who live on Chapel Street, but pass Antanaitis' house every day while walking their own dog.

"I hardly ever saw her come outside," Kwoka said Tuesday. "She kept to herself. Neighbors would shovel a pathway to her door. I maybe saw that dog two times."

On those occasions, he said the dog looked "healthy and well groomed."

The Evankos said the house was always dark.

"I've never seen any activity inside," Barbara Evanko. "If I didn't know better, I would have thought the house was empty."

Shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, an animal control officer in a van arrived at Antanaitis' home. Moments earlier, a woman answered the door, but declined comment.

Heather Myers, of Killingworth, who breeds purebred keeshonds, was shocked to learn that the dog would turn on its owner of eight years.

"No way. I've raised keeshonds for 35 years," Myers said. "Of the thousands I've had, I've known of only one or two that were aggressive."

Myers said she knows of one in New Hampshire that turned on its owner.

"It was learned that the dog had a brain tumor," Myers said.

The breed, which is known for its gray and black coat and a distinctive mane or ruff of hair around its head and neck, is known for its playful, obedient temperament. Fully grown, they can weigh close to 45 pounds.

Myers said she would like to learn more about Antanaitis' dog, including such things as its breeding, whether it was a rescue dog, and whether its a true keeshond.

"A lot of times our dogs get confused with elkhounds, Siberian huskies and chows," she said.

"This is conduct you would never expect from a keeshond," Myers said. "These dogs are companion dogs with great temperaments. They are great with kids and great in apartments. I'm totally shocked."

So was Richard Dodge, who has been breeding them for 23 years in Waterbury.

"Initially they were bred as watchdogs on barges in the 1700s," said Dodge. "But for the past 100 years they've been bred as companion dogs. They are very person-oriented. They want to be with you and do what you do. I've never heard of them attacking their owner."