For years, residents in a southern Dallas, an impoverished and neglected part of town, have complained about dangerous packs of stray and loose dogs roaming the streets. Now, a 52-year-old woman named Antoinette Brown has died from her injuries after being mauled by at least six of these dogs.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Brown was placed in a medically induced coma after being bitten more than 100 times on May 2, in an attack that tore the skin from her muscles and tendons. She died Monday night after being removed from life support. Brown was a mother and grandmother who reportedly served in the Army and had worked as a housekeeper at Parkland Memorial Hospital.
This was a foreseeable and preventable tragedy. For years, the poor infrastructure and shocking lack of city services has been evident in southern Dallas, a predominantly black and Latino part of town. Stories abound about loose and stray dogs attacking people (or what are sometimes referred to as “loose owned” dogs, who technically have owners, albeit supremely neglectful ones).
Unwanted dogs are routinely dumped on the street in southern Dallas. Volunteer rescue groups frantically try to fill in the gaps where they say the city’s Animal Services department is inadequate or unresponsive. Animal Services has long said that they are understaffed and underfunded and can’t possibly keep up with the tide of stray and neglected animals coming to the city-run shelter every day. (Full disclosure that I used to work for the Dallas Observer and covered Dallas Animal Services years ago, sometimes critically.)
The Dallas Police Department waited nearly a week to announce the mauling; Police Chief David Brown told the Dallas Morning News they wanted to make sure the owner of the dogs didn’t destroy the evidence. He said, too, that six dogs had been seized by the city and their owners could face unspecified criminal charges.
In response to Brown’s death, the city is mulling over some “policy changes,” Fox 4 reports. The city had said in January it was launching an initiative to combat the stray dog problem and even arrested someone for animal cruelty. That case makes the scope of the problem evident: police said they seized 59 dogs and eight horses from the home of Melinda Vinzant; they also found “several” dead dogs on the property. Vinzant lived in a 96o-square-foot home.
Brown never regained consciousness after she was attacked. A neighbor told Fox 4 she’d asked Dallas Animal Services to capture the same dogs a year ago, when they killed her chihuahua.
Antoinette Brown. Screenshot via Fox 4