NEW YORK CITY — A woman whose two pet dogs mauled her mother to death after the mom let them temporarily live in her basement is now blaming the victim for the deadly attack — saying she should have known better than to come downstairs alone.
In a desperate bid to prevent the pets from being euthanized by the city, a tearful Dawn Schoentube testified at a hearing that her mother, Daisie Bradshaw, 65, had provoked Panda and Jacob, the German Shepard mixed-breed canines, by entering the basement apartment in Staten Island on Oct. 24 and startling the pooches.
"She shouldn't have been there," Schoentube, 47, who had been living in the basement apartment at the time, said at a trial at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings in Lower Manhattan on Friday. "Yes, she was my mother, but she was an intruder in my apartment."
Her husband, Ray Schoentube Jr., who represented her at the trial, speculated in his closing arguments that Bradshaw may have had an epileptic seizure that confused the dogs and prompted them to attack — despite the fact Bradhsaw had never had a seizure before.
"She provoked the dogs and contributed to this dangerous incident," the husband said. "[By] going downstairs into the dogs' territory, they saw her as an attacker. They were not used to seeing her down there."
The fatal attack happened last fall after Dawn Schoentube moved back to Staten Island from Florida and was staying in the basement studio in her mother's Simonson Avenue home with the two dogs, which Dawn had raised since birth.
According to her testimony, her mother had started taking a lot of medication for epilepsy and depression after the death of her husband and was acting increasingly erratic.
"She was acting strangely," Schoentube testified. "Sleeping a lot, forgetfulness, moodiness. She would put something somewhere and then accuse me or my son of stealing it, then remember she put it in her room."
She said her mother had complained about the lights in the apartment being left on and believes that the mom had gone into the basement the day of the attack in an attempt to turn them off.
"Miss Bradshaw was on so many medications that she could have been confused," Ray Schoentube said in his closing argument.
Dawn Schoentube told police she came home from work some time between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 25, 2016, to find her mother covered in blood on the basement bedroom floor. Both dogs were also covered in blood, according to the police report.
Animal Care Centers of NYC, formerly Animal Care and Control, tranquilized the dogs after the attack and have been keeping them in their Linden Boulevard location in Brooklyn ever since.
The kennel's manager, Sean Patrick Malloy, testified at the Friday hearing that the two pets are extremely aggressive and should be put down.
"They are very reactive to anything that passes by — barking, yelping, biting at the bars," Malloy said, adding that his staff was unable to administer eye medication to one of the dogs for an infection because he's so vicious. "They do not seem comfortable."
"Due to their mental state, I couldn't guarantee that they wouldn't do it again," Malloy added. "In my opinion, I do think these dogs should be humanely euthanized due to safety issues."
Under city Department of Health regulations, dogs that are determined to be dangerous can be killed after the owner is informed and a hearing is held.
That applies to any dog that "menaces, threatens, attacks or bites a person or persons or which kills or inflicts physical injury upon any persons, when such persons are peacefully conducting themselves in any place where they may lawfully be," the agency said.
"By definition, a dog's dangerous if it kills a person in a place where that person lives," Thomas Merrill, a lawyer representing the Health Department, said in his closing arguments. "This is a classic case of blame the victim. These dogs cannot go back into society."
Ray Schoentube countered that Bradshaw startled the dogs.
"I don't see why it's the dogs' fault," he said. "It was an accident, an unfortunate accident."
To Dawn Schoentube, euthanizing the dogs just compounds the tragedy.
"I lost my mother and now I'm going to lose my dogs," she told DNAinfo New York after the hearing.
Administrative Law Judge Noel R. Garcia is expected to render a decision soon on the fate of the pets.