Elderly woman mauled to death by her dog in her home; son badly injured

MARGATE — An 84-year-old woman was mauled to death by her dog in a Margate home Friday night in an attack that also left her son hospitalized with serious injuries.

Margate Fire Rescue pronounced Carolyn Varanese dead at the scene and Joseph Varanese, 57, was taken to Northwest Medical Center for treatment. He was discharged Saturday afternoon.


The dog, now in the custody of Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center, is being held in a kennel until they hear from police, the agency said Sunday.


The incident happened at about 9:30 p.m. Friday inside a home on the 6100 block of Southwest First Street, police said.

Both Carolyn and Joseph Varanese had been bitten multiple times, said Margate Police Department Lt. Al Banatte. Banatte said the dog was a mixed breed.

Neighbors said the two lived together and that they seemed like nice people.

“It killed her? Oh wow,” said Fabian Gonzalez, who has lived across the street for three years. “I know the woman who lives there was kind of sick. I’ve seen her when they come to take her to the doctor.”

Carolyn Varanese used a wheelchair and often had an ambulance take her to medical appointments.

Raheem Menendez has lived next door for two years. He witnessed the commotion Friday night when police arrived.


“They took [Joseph Varanese] to the hospital and he looked calm, no emotion or nothing,” Menendez said. “The mother was already dead.”

Some of the police officers walked through Menendez’s yard to get to the dog that was tied up out back of the Varanese home.

“They took the dog,” Menendez said. “It was a very calm dog. It wasn’t aggressive.”

Menendez believed the dog was an American Boxer mix, and he said he rarely heard it bark. He described Carolyn Varanese as soft-spoken.


A relative seen entering the house at about noon Saturday declined to comment. A cleaning service also showed up at the home.

This was the second vicious dog attack in just more than a week in the area. On Aug. 22, a woman and her two young sons were attacked at their Coral Springs home by a pitbull they rescued from the Everglades. In that incident, an 11-year-old had severe bites on his face and had to be airlifted to the hospital.

Wayne K. Roustan can be reached at or 561-379-6119 or on Twitter @WayneRoustan. Aric Chokey contributed to this report.