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Police seize eight dogs after fatal mauling of California woman

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A day after a Southern California woman was fatally mauled by a pack of pit bulls, police were trying to determine on Friday whether any of the eight dogs they seized from a nearby home were involved in the attack, law enforcement officials said.

Homicide detectives serving a search warrant at a home in the unincorporated community of Littlerock, in the high desert about 65 miles east of Los Angeles, took eight dogs from the property, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Captain Mike Parker said.

Six of the canines were pit bulls and the other two were mixed breeds, Parker said.

Police who conducted an exhaustive daylong search for the dogs using helicopters and assisted by Los Angeles Animal Care and Control officers, were led to the house by tips from local residents, Parker said.

A "marijuana grow" operation was found on the property and a 29-year-old man was arrested there on suspicion of pot cultivation. He was not immediately identified by authorities and has not been charged in connection with the dog attack.

Authorities said a driver called police on Thursday morning to report that four pit bulls were mauling a woman by the side of a road in Littlerock.

When a sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene minutes later he found the woman being attacked by a single pit bull, who moved aggressively toward him. The deputy fired twice at the dog, who ran off into the desert apparently unharmed.

The 63-year-old woman died while being rushed to a nearby hospital. An autopsy will be conducted as early as Friday to establish a cause of death in the case, Los Angeles County Coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said.

Winter said the woman's name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Sheriff's deputies warned residents in the area not to approach the dogs, which were described as tan in color, and said that people walking alone should carry a cell phone or whistle in case they were approached by aggressive animals.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Andrew Hay)

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