Mexico City dog attack death toll may rise to five

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - A teenager found dead last month near a Mexico City park may have been killed by dogs, making her possibly the fifth victim of canine attacks shocking the capital, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The 15-year-old girl, Ana Gabriela Nataret Ramirez, died in a hospital after police found her on Dec 16 with several wounds on a street near the park of Cerro de La Estrella, the city prosecutor's office said.

The torn-up bodies of a woman with a baby and a teenage couple were discovered in the same park in the past two weeks. Authorities say stray dogs killed the four in separate incidents, prompting police to round up the animals this week.

The city prosecutor's office said both arms of the Dec 16 victim showed signs of "mutilation" and that a new investigation, which was prompted by the discovery of the four other dog victims, found that it was "a possible new case of homicide caused by wounds made by dogs."

The killings have put a spotlight on Mexico City's relationship with dogs, where many of them are either abandoned on the street or pampered by pet owners crowding parks.

The case has brought a wave of sympathy for street dogs after photos of 25 captured canines were published by the prosecutor's office. Investigators are testing the dogs' faeces, hair and stomachs to determine if they are the killers.

Animal rights activists have voiced doubts that feral dogs could have killed the victims and demand that the government handle the animals humanely.

AnimaNaturalis, an international animal rights group, said the case showed the "incompetence of the authorities to investigate and solve crimes and its lack of initiative to launch massive pet sterilisation campaigns to limit the street dog population."

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