History of Complaints Prior to Fatal Dog Attack in Dallas

The dogs believed to be responsible for the attack on a woman who died Monday night came from a home with a long history of past Animal Services complaints, according to information released by the City of Dallas Tuesday night.

Antoinette Brown, 52, had been in a coma at Dallas Baylor Medical Center before her death since the mauling she received May 2.

The attack happened at about 4:45 a.m. in a vacant lot on Rutledge Street near Second Avenue.

After the attack, Dallas Animal Services seized seven dogs from a nearby home and issued 16 citations to the dogs’ owner, according to the new information. The owner’s name was not released.

Between July 2013 and August 2014, records said neighbors made 10 calls to the city about the location and the owner surrendered 10 dogs after repeated violation notices from Animal Services.

In September 2015, neighbors reported an earlier attack in progress. Five citations were issued and three more dogs were euthanized.

Dallas police have submitted test samples to determine scientifically if the dogs seized this time are, in fact, those responsible for the death of Brown.

The case could be a second degree felony charge of ‘attack by dog,’ if there is proof of negligent lack of restraint of a dog known to be dangerous that causes death. A court can order dogs owned by a person convicted of this offense to be destroyed.

Neighbors near the fatal attack said the dogs involved made it through a makeshift fence that backs up to a house on Spring Street. No one answered the door or returned messages left at the house Monday and Tuesday. A small dog could still be heard barking behind the door Tuesday, despite the other dogs the city said it seized.

Neighbor Loretta Adkins said she blames irresponsible owners for most of the Southern Dallas dog problem.

“A lot of times they’re just abandoning the dogs in this neighborhood,” she said. “But down over there at that end, a lot of people have more than one animal.”

Dallas Animal Services has added the neighborhood where the attack occurred to a routine patrol for strays. Animal Control officers were seen driving in the neighborhood Tuesday.

“In the past, when I’ve called the city they came right on out and checked it out,” said neighbor Lavenia Perry. “They called me back and everything.”

But Perry also said people walk in her neighborhood with protection.

“They got a stick and it’s for the dogs, in case they have to fight off the dogs,” she said.

This fatal dog attack was only one of several dog bites reported to Dallas authorities in May.

Dallas police reports include four other reports of dog bites in addition to Antoinette Brown, all of them south of Interstate 30.

A few blocks away from the fatal attack, in the 4800 block of Second Avenue, a visitor at the K Convenience Store was bitten by a dog at 6:45 p.m. Witness Daniel Jones said he saw it happen.

“As he was passing, the dog was barking. And the dog spun out and hit him, bit him on the hand,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of dogs. They have no homes, so they’re strolling around looking for food and stuff.”

Dallas Fire Rescue responded to eight calls for dog bites in May. Available information does not reveal if the dogs were strays or bites by an owner’s dog.

In April, Dallas Animal Services proposed a new approach to Southern Dallas dog problems adjusted from the patrols of target neighborhoods started last year.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings Monday promised additional changes after the tragedy.

Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez released the following statement Tuesday evening:

Last night, Dallas resident Antoinette Brown died from brutal injuries she sustained after a number of owned loose dogs attacked her last week. On behalf of the City of Dallas, I'd like to extend our deepest sympathies to Ms. Brown’s family.

The dogs we believe attacked Ms. Brown are now in DAS custody, but the loose dog problem continues in southern Dallas. We are determined to find out what happened in this tragic situation so that we can bring irresponsible owners to account for their animals, if ownership can be proven. We are also working to correct and improve City systems to help prevent vicious dog attacks in the future and protect our community from loose dogs. We are providing additional protection to the neighborhood in which the attack happened.

We are also conducting a review of our policies and procedures to learn from this tragedy, identify ways to improve our response and help protect the citizens of Dallas. I’ve been meeting with Dallas Police Department (DPD) and Dallas Animal Services (DAS) leadership to review this situation. We have identified several communication gaps as the events of the last week unfolded. DPD did not immediately notify DAS about the attack, which is why DAS responded over the next few days to subsequent calls for loose dogs as routine calls.

After DPD informed DAS managers about the attack Thursday evening, the two departments coordinated a response for Friday morning, at which time the suspected dogs were taken into custody, where they remain. In addition, we did not properly identify a pattern of behavior that was developing and would have given us an opportunity to bring DPD into the loop sooner to investigate for criminal activity. We are fixing these gaps by changing procedures so that first responders arriving to the scene of a dog attack will immediately notify DAS. Technology changes are also in process to further help with this communication.

Since DAS learned about the attack, we've saturated the area with patrols, traps and additional DPD and DAS resources. DAS and DPD are creating a process to identify and share escalated incidents and information about repeat offenders. I have also asked the Marshal’s Office to review and prioritize criteria for serving warrants resulting from animal citations.

The safety of residents is our top priority. For the long-term, we are evaluating a variety of tools to help influence the human behavior that leads to dogs running loose in our streets. These areas include education, enhanced enforcement of existing ordinances and possible creation of new ordinances. In addition, we are seeking ways to criminalize irresponsible behavior. That will only be possible by changes to state laws. DPD will address the criminal investigation as more information becomes available. A recent update has been provided on dpdbeat.net.

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