08/24/2012 09:46 EDT | Updated 10/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Rita Phillip, Wanted In Vicious Dog Attack, Arrested After Tip From Public


CALGARY - An Alberta woman wanted by police after she allegedly set her two pit-bull-type dogs on a friend called police before she was arrested at a casino.

Rita Phillip, 57, disappeared after the bloody dog attack last Saturday at her mobile home in Sundre, northwest of Calgary.

The 26-year-old victim was so badly mauled that first responders initially believed she was dead.

RCMP Cpl. Ryan Hodge said investigators received tips every day over the past week indicating Phillip was trying to get to Calgary. He said she had asked several people she knew in towns and restaurants along the way for rides.

"They were calling into us and letting us know and we just weren't able to get that close to her to be able to apprehend her right away," Hodge said Friday.

"We were just one step behind her."

Hodge said it appears that Phillip may have tried to turn herself in late Thursday. She phoned Calgary police, gave them her name and told them she was wanted by Mounties in Sundre. Then she hung up.

Police called back the number she called from and spoke with a cab driver, who said a customer had borrowed his cell phone. And he had just dropped her off at Casino Calgary.

Within an hour, shortly after midnight, security staff and police took Phillip into custody. Hodge wasn't aware if she had been gambling but said she didn't resist arrest.

She appeared Friday before a justice of the peace charged with aggravated assault. She is to appear in court again Monday.

Hodge said the victim, a friend from Calgary who had been visiting Phillip when she was mauled, remains in hospital in stable condition.

Police have said she suffered life-threatening wounds to her arms and face and may have lost an entire ear in the attack.

She has had several surgeries and is expected to remain in hospital for awhile for further treatment, said Hodge.

Sundre town officials declared the two dogs vicious last year following an attack on another dog at the same trailer park. They had to be muzzled and on short leashes when out in public and confined to a pen when in their yard.

Following the Saturday attack, one of the dogs lunged at police and was shot dead. RCMP said it has tested negative for rabies.

The other canine remains in quarantine. Hodge said animal control officials will determine whether or not it should be destroyed.