North Texas

No Criminal Charges in Dallas Dog Attack Death

Dallas Animal Services reforms are in the works

Dallas police announced Monday they are closing the criminal investigation in the death of a woman from a dog attack.

"It's disappointing, too, because they should have done something about this," said neighbor Jackie Humphrey. She heard the victim crying for help in the vacant yard beside her home May 2 and called 911.

Army veteran Antoinette Brown died of the wounds she received from a pack of loose dogs on Rutledge Street near Fair Park. Four days after the mauling, Dallas police notified Dallas Animal Services to pick up the dogs.

"They had a lot of people that told them those were the dogs," Humphrey said. "We all showed them where the dogs lived when they want and got those dogs."

Police said the dogs were surrendered to Animal Services officers by their owner from a home around the corner on Spring Avenue. Officials said code citations had been issued to the same owner in the past for loose animals and new citations were written for the dogs in May. But this time, police collected DNA samples from the animals, hoping to prove the dogs were responsible for the victim's wounds.

DNA testing was first performed at a Dallas County lab without producing a match. So police sent the samples to a California lab. On Monday, police released a statement:

"Dallas Police were notified by the University of California at Davis Veterinary Genetic Laboratories Forensics Unit that the samples submitted did not contain DNA evidence that would link the animals that were suspected of the attack to Ms. Brown. Based on the lack of evidence, detectives will be closing the case."

Since the attack, the city of Dallas has made big changes in Animal Services. A consultant report estimated 9,000 stray dogs were loose in Dallas Street this summer. The city added money and manpower to increase collection of strays and education of owners.

"There's no question that improvements needed to be made and they're being made," said Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez.

The consultant report also recommended Animal Services management changes. The city manager put police commanders temporarily in charge.

"We understand that that is a very important element of our city operation and we wanted to make sure that we send a clear message by having a chief-level officer at the Animal Services Division," Gonzalez said.

Judi Bennet, a member of the Animal Shelter Advisory Commission that oversees Animal Services, said she is hopeful the changes will produce lasting results in the loose dog problem that has plagued southern Dallas for many years.

"The jury is still out on that," Bennet said.

She said increased spay and neuter programs, which are also part of the city's plan, are important for lasting reduction in the number of stray animals.

Police confirmed Monday that the dogs surrendered from the Rutledge Street attack have been euthanized.

In that area where strays were very common a few months ago, Jackie Humphrey said she has noticed very few wandering lately. She said neighbors hope the improvement will continue but the victim has not been forgotten.

"It will never go away, because we all know what happened to the woman," Humphrey said.

Antoinette Brown's mother, Barbara Brown, declined to comment Monday. Two attorneys who have reportedly represented the victim's daughter, Matisha Ward, since the attack did not return messages.

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