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Dog expert shares what may cause a dog to turn on its owner

Officials determined that Bethany Stephens was mauled to death by her dogs. (Goochland Co. Sheriff's Office)

GOOCHLAND Co., Va. (WSET) -- After a medical examiner determined that 22-year-old Bethany Stevens was mauled to death by her own pit bulls, it brings up the question of why.

Valerie Paul, a certified master trainer at Impawsible Pups in Richmond, told WRIC that dogs attacking their owners is not something that she would normally see.

“If a dog has teeth, it can bite, but to go from a lovable no-bite history dog to one that is causing harm would be fairly rare," Paul said.

She added that it is hard to determine what happened to Stephens without knowing the dogs.

According to Paul, there are several factors to consider if the dogs turned on Stephens. One example she gave was the possibility of there being an altercation between the two dogs and Stephens getting caught in the middle. Another, the possibility that they were frightened.

“A lot of people are saying [the dogs] wouldn’t guard if they killed, but the reality is if it’s a resource, they may guard that as their food source or their toy the same way that a dog might guard a bone on a blanket,” she said.

Investigators said the dogs were guarding Stephens when her body was discovered.

Dog owners said they fear this investigation feeds the stigma surrounding pit bulls.

According to the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office, they are working to have the dogs euthanized.

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