A verdict of misadventure has been returned at the inquest into the death of a woman who died after being mauled by her son's dogs in Co Galway.

Teresa McDonagh sustained fatal injuries after she was attacked by three Presa Canario dogs in June 2017.

Galway Coroner's Court has been told the animals were extremely aggressive and were not chained or caged.

The 64-year-old had called to her son's property on the afternoon of 4 June.

Cheryl McDonagh told the inquest how she returned home at around 3:30pm to find the dogs roaming around the property, with blood on their paws and faces.

Ms McDonagh said she knew "they had done wrong" and initially thought they might have attacked other animals.

Soon afterwards, she found her mother-in-law lying on a laneway leading to the yard of the property. She performed CPR, while awaiting paramedics, but Teresa McDonagh did not respond.

Cheryl McDonagh told the inquest that her husband had purchased the dogs to deter intruders and they "were not vicious" in her opinion.

The victim's son, Martin, told Galway West Coroner Kieran McLoughlin that he had bought male and female Presa Canario pups several years earlier. They subsequently bred and Mr McDonagh sold the puppies on the Done Deal website. One of the pups was also involved in the attack on his mother.

He said he did not realise the dogs were capable of doing what they did and claimed that they never showed aggressive behavior towards people over the years.


But a local postman gave evidence that the dogs had attacked his van, puncturing tyres on a number of occasions and shaking the vehicle with the grip they had on its tyres.

Another of Teresa McDonagh's sons, Gerry, told the inquest that he was always wary of the dogs.

He said "the writing was on the wall" prior to the fatal attack, saying "you wouldn't land a helicopter in the yard" because of the fear the dogs engendered.

He said "people were afraid of the owners as much as the dogs", as they were very intimidating.

Veterinary experts told the Court that the breed in question is not listed on the schedule of dangerous dogs but that a review into those designations was under way at present.

Presa Canario dogs are described as Mastiff type dogs, with muscular physiques.

All three dogs were shot dead in the hours after the attack. Post-mortems on the animals concluded all three were involved in the attack on Ms McDonagh.

A post-mortem examination on Teresa McDonagh determined that she died as a result of severe trauma caused by the injuries she sustained, particularly those to her lower legs. These were said to be "skeletonised", following complete destruction of skin and soft tissue.

In addition, Ms McDonagh had facial abrasions, bite marks and several deep lacerations to her arms and torso.

After deliberating for a short time the jury returned a verdict of misadventure.

They included a number of recommendations with their verdict: That Presa Canarios should be listed as dangerous dogs; that they be muzzled and properly controlled in public places and that owners of such animals should be required to have a specific licence.

Galway West Coroner Kieran McLoughlin described the case as a terrible tragedy.

Noting her daughter's remarks, he said the mother-of-eight was a kind and loved woman, whose loss was keenly felt.