A Staffordshire terrier is suspected of killing a woman and her son inside their apartment in Hanover. The fate of the dog has yet to be decided and it is being kept in an animal shelter.
After an initial investigation on Tuesday, Hanover police suspect the Staffordshire terrier had mauled a 52-year-old woman and her 27-year-old son to death, they said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Emergency services found the lifeless bodies of the two Hanover residents in their apartment in the Gross-Buchholz quarter of the city, police said. The woman's 25-year-old daughter had contacted local authorities after not being able to reach either family member.
Police said the woman and her son had bite marks but were unsure what had exactly transpired. Authorities expect more clues as to the cause of death once they receive the autopsy results. Hanover's central crime unit has taken over the investigation.
Authorities will determine whether or not to put the dog to sleep in the coming days. It is currently being kept in an animal shelter in the nearby town of Langenhagen.
Neighbors of the two Hanover residents said the Staffordshire terrier was very aggressive and had to wear a muzzle. There had also been complaints regarding the dog's barking. It also was kept in a cage in the son's room when the couple had visitors to their home.
"When the son wasn't home, the dog was caged in," Galina Petzer, a woman who regularly visited the apartment, told the Hannoverische Algemeine Zeitung. "I never saw the dog. If I was in the apartment, the dog was caged and was barking in the room."
"The owner always had the dog tight on a leash and despite its efforts kept it under control," the newspaper quoted another neighbor as saying.
Authorities in Germany tightened rules on dogs following a large number of attacks on people, including children, in 2000. If the dog is guilty of murdering the two people, authorities will have to put it to sleep.
dv/jm (AP, dpa)