New details emerge and master dog trainers weigh in on the two dogs who are believed to have killed and partially eaten their own owner while out on a walk. (Story below)
Tonka and Pac-Man were their names. They were brindled pit bull brothers from the same litter and were just two and a half years old. They were very socialized indoor dogs whose 22-year-old owner was said to have treated them like her children.
Bethany even worked at a local kennel and worked around trainers for a while where she even brought both dogs to work with her. Tonka had lived with her since he was 8 weeks old and she later adopted Pac-Man to get him out of an abusive home.
Stephen's friends and co-workers have struggled with the fact that they have not only lost their friend but that the culprits were her own two dogs.
Officials released grisly photos and details from the scene where deputies witnessed animals eating Stephens' rib cage; her body was dismembered and she was found completely naked except for one boot.
The evidence has led officials to the conclusion that Stephens was in fact mauled to death by her own dogs, but for many dog lovers, the idea of the two dogs ripping their owner apart is beyone incomprehensible and the sheriff's office has been flooded with questions and speculations regarding the case.
Certified Master Dog Trainer Valerie Paul did not know the two dogs but has testified in multiple cases and has been deemed an expert by the court system. She offered answers on how and why the dogs allegedly went from adoring their master to feeding on her body.
“Most dogs aren’t going to just turn on an owner,” Paul said. “I think there probably was some sort of outside influence – but not necessarily another animal or anything like that – just something that could have enticed the dogs to get overexcited and react the way dogs will.”
"The fact that they are pit bulls doesn’t connect to what they did, it is a dog thing," said Paul, who is also owner of the kennel Impawsible Pups. She said at the end of the day, dogs are animals, and in extreme circumstances, they can potentially view even their owners as threats or food sources.
"That’s actually very normal, dogs view people very differently than how we view people, when we see a body, we think of our loved ones and all of the memories that they bring to us, dogs don’t, in general."
The dogs were staying with her father because she was going through personal events and could not have her dogs with her. So they went from being inside and adored to living outside in the cold and locked in a kennel where Stephens' father had left them because "it wasn't his responsibility to take care of them."
“The breed in and of itself is a high energy breed, they like to have a lot of structure and a lot of exercise, so by keeping them in a pen, alone, under-socialized, away from people – that energy is just building up and building up and building up and that’s when you start to see dogs fighting more regularly, that’s when you start to see more negative scenarios," Paul said.
While no one can say for certain what happened that afternoon, Paul says that there is a good chance of this entire attack could have been a case of "energy gone wrong"
There is a lot of speculation going on but it has nothing to do with the breed. Pit bulls are very sweet animals and are great family dogs when given what they need.
Currently the investigation is ongoing. The dogs have been euthanized and investigators are looking for someone to perform a necropsy on the dogs which is basically an autopsy on an animal.
A 22-year-old Goochland Country, VA woman was found dead on Thursday evening in a heavily wooded area of Virginia after being mauled by what police think were her own dogs.
Bethany Lynn Stephens' father called 911 when he grew concerned about his daughter not coming home and went out looking for her himself in an area where she frequently walked her dogs.
He discovered his daughters dogs in the woods and told the sheriff's office that the dogs appeared to be "guarding" her body, investigators say.
When Sheriff's deputies arrived the were able to catch the two pit bull dogs and Bethany's body was taken to the Medical Examiner's Office.
"It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims' dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs," Sheriff Agnew said the Medical Examiner's initial report indicated. "The victim had defensive wounds on her hands and arms trying to keep the dogs away from her, which would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive."
Read the entire article with pending updates on the case at Fox5SanDiego.com