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BRIGHTON HEIGHTS (KDKA) – A woman killed stabbed her three dogs and started a fire in her Brighton Heights home late Friday morning.

It happened at a home in the 4000 block of Brandon Road around 11:30 a.m.

When police and firefighters arrived on the scene, they found a fire burning inside and three dogs with stab wounds.

Neighbor Paul Klemz says an elderly woman who lives there has been suffering from severe mental illness. He called 911 after she knocked on his door.

“She had a gash on her hands,” Klemz said, “and she was shaking and crying and said that she had to get out of her house and she had to set the house on fire to get rid of evil spirits. And she had to stab the dogs that were attacking her.”

“This may have been an intentionally set fire by the female occupant of this house,” Pittsburgh

One of the dogs died inside the residence. The other two were taken to a local animal treatment facility, where another one died.

Klemz calls it a tragedy that should have never happened, and he says it’s one of the many examples of the breakdown in care for people with mental illness.

“This woman was in Mercy about a month ago, and they sent her home,” he said. “This was after she had been in [the hospital] I think one other time.”

Klemz sends his sympathies out to the woman’s family, but he says society needs to figure out how to improve the treatment, saying she should have been supervised and on medication.

“I’m old enough to know when we had Dixmont and Mayview and a few other places, and then they shut them all down, you know, because somebody decided this isn’t the way to treat people with mental issues,” Klemz said. “The problem is there has never yet been an alternative. We turn these people loose on the streets.”

The woman is being treated at Mercy hospital. Police are investigating the incident. There is no indication if any charges will be filed.