Dog attack contributed to woman's death

Posted at 6:47 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 09:42:41-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A dog attack is partly to blame for the death of an 83-year-old woman in Chula Vista who was battling cancer.

Police were called to the 900 block of Kittiwake Lane just before 11 a.m. Friday. When they arrived, they found Joan Ashman dead in the backyard.

Her dog and the neighbor's Boxer had made their way inside the house and were still fighting. Ashman suffered puncture wounds on her hands and feet. Her daughter declined going on camera, but told 10News she believes her mom had a heart attack caused by trauma from trying to save her dog's life. The Poodle mix is recovering at an animal hospital.

Neighbors said the people who owned the aggressive dog moved into a house on Widgon Lane about a month ago. They said the dogs have pushed through adjacent fences three times.

"They weren't dogs you would want to pet. They were vicious," said Joan Schmiege.

Ashman was a long time member of the Elks Lodge No. 2011 in Chula Vista. Friday night, they were having their annual Christmas party. 

"She would've been here tonight," said Dick Lee.

Lee said Ashman was active in the club and served on many volunteer committees.  She recently battled cancer.

"It's a shame that she's gone. She'll be dearly missed."

An autopsy revealed Ashman died from a heart attack and police say the vicious dog attack contributed to it.

Attorney Brian Watkins says the boxer's owner could now face a wrongful death lawsuit.