Friend describes dog attack that killed 84-year-old woman

Wheelchair-bound woman had allowed pitbull to sleep in her bed just days before, family friend says

MARGATE, Fla. – A friend of the son who survived a vicious dog attack that killed his 84-year-old mother said he was shocked that the pit bull went on the rampage.

According to authorities, the deadly incident happened inside of a home on the corner of Southwest 63rd Avenue and Southwest 1st Street at approximately 9:40 p.m. Friday.

When first responders arrived, they found Carolyn Varanese, 84, already dead from her injuries. Her son, 57-year-old Joseph Varanese, was taken to Northwest Medical Center with serious injuries. He was released Saturday morning.

The dog had just started staying with the mother and son recently, according to Jimmy, a family friend who only wanted to be identified by his first name. He said Joseph had taken in the dog a few weeks ago from a rescue group.

The man told Local 10 he was surprised that the dog attacked the wheelchair-bound woman since she had been enjoying the dog in the days leading up to the incident, even letting it sleep in her bed.

Jimmy said he drove his friend, Joseph, home from the hospital and was told what happened.

“He was trying to save his mom and the dog kept going for her jugular. The dog grabbed her ankles and he started beating the dog with the wheelchair,” Jimmy said.

As far as the man’s injuries, Jimmy said: “The dog messed him up pretty good. His eye is all messed up, his nose, his whole arm is all messed up.”

The dog was taken into custody by Broward County Animal Control officials.

Police said the exact cause of the attack is still under investigation.

About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.