10 dogs seized by authorities after fatal dog mauling

Homestead man suffered injuries throughout body, autopsy report says

By Michael Seiden - Reporter, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Glenna Milberg - Reporter

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Authorities seized 10 dogs Wednesday who are accused of mauling a man to death last month in Homestead.

Authorities said one of the Belgian Malanois-bulldog mixed-breed dogs escaped from its owners SUV and threatened officers, leaving them no choice but to fatally shoot the 8-month-old dog.

The other nine dogs will be taken to an undisclosed location until the investigation is complete.

"Belgian Malanois are typically used in police work and they're highly intelligent animals," Kathleen Labrada from Miami-Dade County Animal Services said.

According to police, Manuel Mejia was a live-in caretaker at the dragon fruit farm near Southwest 228th Avenue and 309th Street, where the dogs also lived.

On the evening of April 23, Mejia's girlfriend, Pamela Babineau, called 911 screaming for help, unable to intervene in the dog attack.

First responders found Mejia covered in dog bites and bleeding profusely. A piece of skin was missing from his left tricep area.

Mejia was airlifted to the trauma center at Kendall Regional Medical Center. He died of his injuries four hours later. 

An autopsy was done the day after he died. It documented wounds to almost every part of his body, including his head, neck, chest, abdomen, back and legs. He had seven fractured ribs, puncture wounds, abrasions, hemorrhaging and internal bleeding, as well as contusions on his heart and lungs.

Babineau told police three dogs instigated the attack, and up to seven others joined in.

"These are young dogs -- about eight months of age," Labrada said. "The pups that are impounded -- their mother is an American bulldog."

Animal control officers cited owner Reynaldo Torres for having unregistered and unlicensed dogs.

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