Police in the United States have reluctantly released details surrounding the death of a woman mauled by her own dogs, in an effort to quell speculation about how she died.

The body of Bethany Stephens, 22, was discovered by her father in the woods at Goochland, Virginia, on Thursday evening last week. After news of her death broke, the local sheriff’s office was hounded by “an avalanche” of phone calls and social media comments about how the dogs simply could not be responsible for Stephen’s death.

According to the New York Post, people speculated that she’d been killed by some other means – a bear, or another person, for example – and that the dogs would “kill you with kisses.”

Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew provided new details of the case in order to squash the speculation.

“Let me cut right to the chase, the most important detail that we did not release because we were worried about the well-being of the family is that in the course of trying to capture the dogs early Friday morning… we turned and looked… I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage of the body,” he said.

He also refuted speculations that a larger animal had been responsible.

“There was no evidence of any larger animal there,” he said. “The medical examiner made it pretty clear that it was not a large animal, because the bit wounds didn’t puncture her skull. There were also scratch marks consistent with a smaller animal than something like a bear.”

Stephens had known the dogs, both male pit bulls, since they were pups, and had experience working with animals. WTVR reports that people who had known the dogs described them as socialised, passive and as having a significant bond with their owner.

Sergeant Mike Blackwood said that the dogs were “a little bit neglected towards the end of this,” with the dogs spending more time outside in the cold and less time with their humans.

Both dogs were euthanised on Saturday, after the police made the recommendation and the family agreed.

“What I observed personally, it was in the community’s best interest,” said Agnew. “Once a dog tastes human flesh it is not safe to have that dog around humans.”

Image: Supplied