HOUSTON (KHOU) -- A 52-year-old Houston woman was in critical condition after a vicious mauling by a pack of at least 15 stray dogs.
It happened around 6 a.m. on Monday near Lyons and Eastex Freeway in the Fifth Ward.
According to family members, Maria Arcos was walking to a nearby bus stop. She was on her way to start her first day on a new job as a housekeeper.
Arcos was under an overpass when a pack of mixed-breed strays surrounded her and pulled her to the ground.
"It's a pack mentality. That can happen when there's an aggressive act by one and it continues," said City of Houston Animal Control Manager Chris Glaser.
Glaser said a railroad employee saw Arcos being terrorized and dialed for help.
"With that many dogs on her, she was being drug up and down the street," Glaser said.
Arcos was still conscious when officers arrived, but her family said the stress of the mauling caused her to have a heart attack.
"Supposedly in 48 hours, if she doesn't get better, she's not going to make it," said stepson Oscar Reyes.
Reyes said the dogs tore off his stepmother's clothes and bit her all over.
He said officers knocked on his family's front door to deliver the news. Reyes told KHOU 11 News he was faced with the difficult task of spreading the news to family members who weren't home.
"They already have a lot of problems and then this happens. It shocks kind of everybody," Reyes said.
Reyes said most of the family is on constant watch by Arcos' bedside at an area hospital.
According to Reyes, Arcos has severe wounds covering most of her body.
"Her arms, her legs, her neck -- they cover her," Reyes said. "They was eating her. The dogs was eating her to the bone."
Animal control officers later found the pack responsible living under a nearby mortuary.
Officers blocked the dogs underneath the building and attempted to lure them into a single trap. At last check, they had captured five of the dogs.
Two of them appear to be only about four months old.
"Most of the time, you won't have them acting out in an aggressive manner like this. Usually you'll have one or two, but an attack like this is very rare," Glaser said.
Glaser said one of the dogs, a pit bull mix, appears to be the leader of the pack. He believes at least 10 dogs are still underneath the mortuary.
Officers are stopping by that business about five times a day to check on the trap.
Glaser told KHOU 11 News that all of these dogs will likely be euthanized so they can be tested for rabies.