TAOS — Law enforcement authorities suspect a longtime Taos Pueblo teacher was killed Jan. 8 by a pack of dogs on pueblo land, raising concerns about the dangers of dog overpopulation, not only the pueblo but also in the wider Taos County area.
Newly selected Taos Pueblo Gov. Edwin Concha confirmed this week the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator is looking into the woman’s death, but Concha declined to identify her “out of respect to her family.”
Sandra Bible of Tulsa identified the slain woman as her sister, 52-year-old Kay Torres.
“She had worked for Taos Pueblo Head Start,” Bible said in a phone interview. “She’d worked for Taos Public Schools over the years.”
Bible said she and her sister are members of both Taos Pueblo and the Muscogee Nation, a tribe based in Okmulgee, Okla. Torres had settled at Taos Pueblo, where she became known as a caring and thoughtful teacher to many generations of young students.
According to an obituary published by the De Vargas Funeral Home, she is survived by six children, her parents and five siblings.
While the investigation into Torres’ cause of death remains open, Bible said it seemed clear her sister was, in fact, killed by a pack of dogs at the pueblo.
A dispatch log provided by Taos County also indicates the loose dogs killed Torres.
According to the log, a caller reported seeing Torres’ body surrounded by a pack of dogs that were attacking her midmorning Jan. 8 near the intersection of Leaf Arrow Lane and Willow Lane. The caller said she fended off the dogs with a stick. When the animals cleared away, the woman said, she could see bite marks on Torres’ arms and legs. Torres was carrying a backpack with her, which the caller said “someone” took from the middle of the roadway.
“It appears that Kay Torres was killed by a pack of dogs,” Taos Pueblo Tribal Police Officer James Gladeau reported from the scene, according to the dispatch log.
The report did not indicate how many dogs were involved in the attack or whether they were pets or feral, but Bible said loose dogs in the area have been an ongoing concern.
“We’ve been hearing that this was not the first dog attack on tribal land,” Bible said. “They have something out there where you’re not supposed to have more than two dogs. But everybody has more than that. There’s no control on the reservation.”
In a public post published on Taos Pet Connection, a Facebook page for local pet owners, Taos Pueblo member JuanIsidro Concha said he was putting three dogs up for adoption in light of Torres’ death.
“We are rehoming our friends because of the recent tragedy at Taos Pueblo,” he wrote. “In memory of Momma Kay Torres our family has decided to comply with tribal policy and only keep two dogs at our home. I’m hoping that by doing so others will follow suit and try to find homes for their overabundance of dogs.”
Animal control officers in the town of Taos and Taos County pick up animals reported loose every week. Neither Taos Police Chief David Trujillo nor Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe could recall noticing a recent spike in dog attacks, but Trujillo said his department recorded 24 reports in 2019. Hogrefe’s office recorded 56, he said.