Mom Was Fatally Mauled by Pit Bull While Having Seizure — and Family Says Dog Was Trying to Help

Family members believe the pet was trying to help Melissa Astacio, 44, who was known to suffer from epileptic seizures

Melissa Ausmus Astacio
Photo: Facebook

A Massachusetts woman suffering an epileptic seizure at her home was mauled to death by a pet pit bull that family members believe was trying to help her.

“I don’t know what to make of it, but I know it wasn’t on purpose,” the 44-year-old woman’s daughter, Heaven Astacio, said of the 8-year-old animal named Amigo that the family had raised from the time it was a puppy, reports WCVB.

The woman, Melissa Astacio, of Somerset, “suffered from seizures and the details still are unclear why our family dog attacked my mother while having a seizure,” another of her daughters, Elysandra Astacio, wrote on a GoFundMe page seeking help with funeral expenses. “My 13-year-old little sister ran to get help but she passed away due to her injuries. I don’t know how or what to do.”

The GoFundMe page described Melissa as a single mom of three girls.

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The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office confirmed the attack that was reported by a 911 call around 5:20 p.m. Friday.

“When police and paramedics arrived on scene, police were forced to deploy a Taser on the dog before being able to assist the victim, who was then rushed to Rhode Island Hospital,” the D.A.’s office said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “The victim, who was known by her family and friends to suffer from seizures, was pronounced deceased by doctors at Rhode Island Hospital at 6:20 p.m.”

The statement added: “No criminal conduct or foul play is suspected at this time.”

The dog was immediately secured and placed in quarantine by Swansea Animal Rescue.

“What happened that night, it never happened like that before,” Heaven Astacio told WCVB. “I don’t want to see my dog get put down for something he was only trying to help with.”

Of her mother, she said: “She always knows how to make you laugh. She’s in a better place now.”

“All my mom ever wanted was for me and her three kids to have a better life than she could, and I just want to say: ‘I love you, mom.'”

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