Toledo woman dies from dog attack in her backyard

Police found Bonnie Varnes, 58, unconscious at her residence Monday evening. She was rushed to the hospital, where she died. (Source: WTVG)
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 10:14 AM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A 58-year-old woman was found severely mutilated in her backyard Monday evening.

Police found Bonnie Varnes, a Washington Local Schools bus driver, to be unconscious at her residence on the 800 block of Wright Ave. just before 6 p.m.

She was transported to UTMC, where she died.

According to the Toledo Police incident report, video footage showed Varnes taking a dog named Amina outside the back door on a leash, Varnes was then pulled down by the dog and attacked.

“It was heartbreaking to see someone’s mother -- someone’s person laying there and seeing that -- and then it was hard seeing all the family come out and being sad,” said a neighbor, who wishes to stay anonymous and saw Varnes wheeled out on a stretcher.

The neighbor says the dog always seemed friendly.

“You could tell that Bonnie definitely loved that dog. It was very well taken care of,” they said.

The dog is currently kenneled at Lucas County Canine Care and Control.

“Obviously the family can choose to euthanize the dog. Or, if they don’t, we would deem the dog dangerous more than likely -- that’s usually what happens -- and then it’s up to the courts to decide the outcome,” Cassie Bloomfield, LC4 Community Outreach Coordinator.

A local trainer says there are tell-tale signs of when a dog may bite.

“Usually what happens right before a bite is what’s called whale eye -- so you can kind of see the whites of the dog’s eyes -- and then something that’s called a freeze,” said Max Machon, a dog trainer at Ready Set Train Dogs. “So, a freeze is the dog completely stops moving -- it’s like all the motion completely comes out of their body.”

He says if a dog starts to attack, don’t scream or run and don’t let it bring you to the ground, where the most severe injuries usually occur.

“You can do something called feeding the bite. So, basically a dog will try to bite at anything that is closest to them,” Machon said. “So, if you have a backpack or a bike, you can take off a sweatshirt of a layer of clothing, and if you put that out in front of you, the dog will start to bite at that object as opposed to your body.”

Varnes was a bus driver at Washington Local Schools for more than 30 years.

In a statement, the district said, “Bonnie worked for WLS for over 30 years and was a deeply loved, valued member of our transportation team. We are devastate by this loss.”

The incident is under investigation.

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