Cledith Davenport, 79, died after being attacked by a pack of dogs in Broken Bow.
Man Killed by Dogs
Broken Bow, OK - On Tuesday, the McCurtain Daily Gazette reported that a 79-year old man and his dog were killed by a pack of dogs over the weekend. The newspaper is not online, but we were able to obtain some screenshots. McCurtain County deputies were called to the scene at 12:52 pm after a postal carrier found Cledith Davenport lying halfway in a ditch in the 700 block of Canoe Road. The man had been "repeatedly bitten" by the dogs and the pack also killed his small dog.
The postal carrier did not immediately recognize Davenport, reports the Gazette. She ran up to his home and began knocking on the door and shouting his name. After not receiving a response, she returned to her vehicle. Only then did she realize the injured man in the ditch was Davenport. In her statement to police, she said the canines were chewing on him. She then drove toward a neighboring home, where the dogs' owner resides, and called the sheriff's department.
Two deputies responded along with the Broken Bow Fire Department and McCurtain County EMS. They described Davenport as "severely bloodied" and had sustained serious injuries to multiple body parts, including his head, reports the Gazette. While at the scene, both deputies were approached by a cattle-mix dog. As the dog barked at them, a pack of 8 or more dogs ran to the scene. Several of those dogs had red-stained fur on their chests, feet and snouts, officers said.
Today, a family member began a "Justice for Cledith" Facebook page. There were up to 11 dogs involved in the deadly attack, all pit bull-cattle dog (blue heeler) mixes,1 states the page. "Laws need to change. Vicious dogs should not be allowed to roam free. Strict fines and jail time should be enforced for the owners," states the page. "People living their lives on their own property should not have to fear vicious animals coming onto their property and killing them and their pets."
The Owner of the Dogs
We located the dogs' owner on Facebook and confirmed this with a Davenport family member. In early September 2018, the owner's female pit bull-cattle dog mix had a large litter of puppies. There were at least three adult dogs at the home and possibly more. According to the Gazette article, eight of the dogs were seized. Four were sent to the Broken Bow pound and the other four were sent to the pound in Idabel. A dangerous dog hearing is scheduled for January 3, 2020.
Late Wednesday, KXII confirmed many of these details in the first "accessible to all" reporting of this man's mauling death. They also interviewed the victim's son, Aaron Davenport, who said that stricter laws need to be in place to prevent these attacks. "Just to keep people safe," Aaron said. "So this doesn't happen to anybody else -- because I promise you, nobody wants to go through what we're going through right now." Sheriff's officials continue to await the official autopsy report.
On Thursday, the state medical examiner's office determined that Davenport's cause of death was due to canines, reports KTBS. Authorities believe that eight dogs are responsible. The district attorney's office is seeking the destruction of these dogs. Outside of state parks in the county, McCurtain County does not appear to have a leash law. No criminal charges are anticipated. This dog owner is free to continue breeding "packs of dogs" and allowing them roam at large.
12/14/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Multiple Dogs Killed Teenage Boy in Hollis, Oklahoma
09/30/19: 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Man Dies After Vicious Dog Attack in Bennington, Oklahoma
Vicious Dog Attacks in Oklahoma by Butch Bridges, a log of Oklahoma vicious dog attacks.
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.
Was just speaking to a co worker about this cross, everyone I have known are not stable. The prey drive seems magified, as is the intensity of the attack. How telling is it that the postal worker did not even recognize the victim? My thoughts and prayers are with this family
He looks like he was a nice man. Let’s add to the list of things you cannot do around pitbullx’s. You shouldn’t walk your own companion dog anywhere people might have pits or where the pits can get loose. It’s provocative.
He was in his own driveway. Where is the dog owner’s culpability? I heard, and that’s all it is, second hand information, that the DA has already decided to not bring charges. That makes me sick.
Pages appear to have been removed.
This is by far the most sad thing I have heard in the town I am from! Mr. Davenport was an amazing man, quiet but so gentle. This angers me and fills my heart with sadness! I send my condolences to the Davenport family! He did not deserve to go out in this way, but I can guarantee he is sitting on the right hand of our father above. May you Rest In Peace! We love you Mr. Davenport and all continued family as well, you will be missed in our lives for sure!
Keeli Peevy and family
If you feel that no action should be taken on the these pack of vicious animals and the owners you are sadly mistaken! And as Mr. Davenport is no longer with us, I can promise you that justice will be served in one way or the other because he was loved and respected by so many!
I am so sorry for the loss your community and his family and friends must be feeling. He looks like a lovely man; I am not surprised to hear that he was.
I sincerely hope that justice IS served (and I promise you everyone here feels the same way).
I know the owner of this site would be happy to hear more about Mr. Davenport and the community’s reaction/anything that happens regarding the dogs and dog laws in your area. As would the rest of us.
Again, my deepest sympathies.
This gentleman lived such an exemplary life. What a horror for his family and friends. I hope they do get justice for Cledith. Unfortunately, the lack of laws in that locality have disgracefully enabled irresponsible owner of this pack of killers.
Such a terrible context for this man’s life to become newsworthy. How he lived, not just how he died, ought to be remembered. The “Justice for Cledith” page has an awesome pic of him on his tractor. If that were my grandpa or my dad I would be incredibly proud.
We have a FAKE blind lady in my town with a pit-blue heeler mix ‘guide’ dog, it’s an obvious joke. She looks RIGHT at you when she talks, the dog isn’t in a harness but on leash, and she’s clearly leading IT not the other way around. She also carries- not uses- a white cane without the red tip. She openly stated her dog has barked and growled at people yet nothing gets done about it.
It would be incredibly difficult for a blind woman to handle an untrained dog. That dog could drag the owner off curbs and in front of traffic. It could go after someone aggressively, and the handler couldn’t anticipate the dog’s behavior.
When? When is the CDC going to start following this again? They just released some report about people getting Campylobacter infections from puppies with only 30 cases and no deaths. How many more people have to end up in coffins or surgical suites due to these damn dogs until the CDC and our government as a whole does something about it? I don’t understand how our country can be so behind on this. So many countries have banned these goddamn dogs, but not ours.
Do you know what’s really ironic? On the male dog owner’s Facebook page, he posted photos from two different incidents in which he killed a “dangerous” snake. One he claims was a cottonmouth (it’s not) and the other he claimed was a rattlesnake (it’s not). Facebook friends comment, telling him how glad they are that he killed the menacing snakes. He thinks he avoided possible death and was protecting his family and neighbors. In reality the two snakes he killed were utterly harmless, yet in his own yard he is purposefully and proudly breeding dangerous dogs… dogs which went on to kill his kindly neighbor. So many people are quick to vilify harmless reptiles while promoting lethal dogs. The dogs get food and shelter at the taxpayers’ expense until a hearing is held to determine if they’re “dangerous.” It’s a little late for that, because kind Cledith is dead. I think it’s abundantly clear the dogs are dangerous. But folks applaud the owner and breeder of these deadly dogs for killing completely harmless snakes.
Mixing pit bulls with cattle dogs is crazy. People are wowed by the interesting color patterns, but never think about the tenacity and drive these mixes are going to have in super-abundance.
I know what it’s like to lose a loved one suddenly, especially how hard it is to lose someone so close to Christmas. But to lose a beloved family member to THIS sort of violent and needless death is unthinkable.
My sincerest condolences to Cledith’s relatives, friends and church family. I hope they receive justice. And I can’t help but grieve for the postal worker who had to find this gentleman in such circumstances. It will probably be a scene that replays itself a million times.
Right this minute, he is making his FB private. The first link shows this and was just in this about 15 min. ago.
Cattle dogs are notorious biters. Not pit bulls, but prone to readily using their mouths in hard contact for little or no reason. Their owners will say flatly that you have to expect that they will bite. Not a nice thing to add pit bull to, and almost certain to result in tragedy when allowed to run loose and pack up.
People who use dogs to control cattle are very fond of crossing pit bulls with herding breeds. Look at ranch dog ads, and a huge percentage are pit bulls crossed with cattle dogs, border collies, and aussies.
This is what Davenport’s family is being put through.
From the “Justice for Cledith” page:
Just spoke to Mark Matloff, DA in person at his office. He has the autopsy report Cledith didnt die from a heart attack or a stroke, the dogs did in fact kill him and Beaver.
He said, “He was very brave.” He said he has never seen anything like this in his 19 years of law enforcement.
Also it is highly unlikely the owners will even recieve a $25 dollar fine. His hands are tied there are no laws to protect the victim in place neither city nor county. We plan on changing that. He recommended contacting Sen. Joe Silk to write a law or Rep. Johnny Tadlock. We have contacted Rep. Johnny Tadlock several times with no response.
He said to file a wrongful death suit.
We are devastated!
Disgraceful. Infuriating. Outrageous. Contemptible. There are a lot more adjectives that could be used.
What is JOB #1 of government? To protect the lives of citizens through laws and enforcement of those laws. If the government isn’t doing its most basic job, what the h3ll are we paying taxes for?!?!
What does DA Mark Matloff have to say specifically with respect to Oklahoma Statute 717, which Colleen quoted above? Where is the exculpatory evidence that the owner (a) did not know the dogs’ propensities, and/or (b) exercised ordinary care to keep the dogs confined (not at large)?
Why are local officials from the OK legislature not responding to the Davenport family?
Why are the people whose JOB it is to write and enforce laws to prevent [unprintable term] from walking away scot-free after their neglect or malfeasance causes the death of another human, wringing their hands in passivity and telling the family they will have to seek private avenues of judicial redress (at the family’s own expense)?
Excuse my harsh language, but I am mad as blazes at what the family is being told.
Cledith Davenport died horribly and needlessly. The neighbor whose dogs killed him needs to be held criminally accountable. Anything less is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Three words: Wrongful death lawsuit. Cledith Davenport’s family needs to file a big one.
Three other words:
Shouldn’t be necessary.
1. Wrongful death lawsuits SHOULD be for when there was clearly no criminal wrongdoing that resulted in the death. Unfortunately, wrongful death lawsuits have all too often become the court of last resort when the laws and criminal justice system fail the aggrieved families.
2. Wrongful death lawsuits put the burden of legal expenses on the aggrieved families. Imagine having to go to civil court and PAY ruinous sums to try to get the justice you were denied by the criminal “justice” process.
3. As lawyers say: Sue a beggar, win a flea. All too often, the defendant has little to no property. So the claimant not only pays ruinous legal fees to bring the wrongful death lawsuit, even if they win, they frequently collect close to zip. The thirst for justice (due to the failure of the criminal “justice” system) is so strong that aggrieved families will accept a moral victory that costs them tens of thousands, if not more.
4. I still want to hear DA Matloff’s explanation for why Section 717 does not apply in this case, when that appears to be exactly the code used as the basis to arrest the Benavidez brothers for the death of Victor Garces in another part of the same state just yesterday. Are the citizens of McCurtain County receiving less (inferior) legal representation in the criminal courts than the citizens of Harmon County? If so, why?
Without a detailed explanation of exactly why his hands are tied in the death of Cledith Davenport and what makes this case different from that of Victor Garces, the DA’s claim is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Nor is the silence from elected local representatives in the state legislature. NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Thanks for adding sone info to the questions of what laws are applicable.
I’m not a lawyer, just a layperson scratching my head at all this.
If McCurtain County’s failure to pass a leash law mutes the State of Oklahoma’s Section 717, then that is the first time I have ever heard of a law being muted in that direction & in that fashion.
I am aware of “muted laws” in the following contexts:
1. Local govts pass BSL. State govt then enacts a law banning BSL. Local laws are thus muted.
2. State constitution requires or prohibits ___. Local govt passes law in conflict with state constitution. Local law is deemed mute(d).
What McCurtain county has done is not to pass a law in conflict with OK Section 717; rather, the county has passed no law whatsoever on that subject. How can a non-existent county law mute state law?
Moreover, state laws usu trump local laws unless the matter is exclusively a local concern.
By claiming that McCurtain County’s failure to pass a leash law mutes OK Section 727, county officials would be essentially admitting that they have bern grossly derelict in their duty to provide ALL county residents equal protection under the law.
The failure to pass a law of this type is astonishing in this day and age. At-large dogs ROUTINELY maul and have been known to kill innocent citizens, even on the latter’s own property. It’s not like what happened to Mr.Davenport was such a fluke that no one could have anticipated the need for a law criminalizing at-large killer dogs.
If anything, I would think that OK Section 717 was intended to be an umbrella law to cover situations exactly like this, where a local or county govt failed a resident who died in circumstances that would have been criminal had they only lived/died a few miles from where they did.
The vagaries of geography should not be a get-out-of-jail free card for some Oklahoma residents, and a death sentence for others. That is not justice or equality under the law. It is the grossest distortion of both.
Anyone with an IQ over 50 ought to know that packs of dogs are dangerous. That’s why I don’t leave over two of my GSDs together without supervision. My dogs also don’t run loose.
Anyone who cares about his/her dogs knows the dangers loose dogs face. Euthanasia by car! That’s when you don’t want the dog and leave it loose hoping that a car kills it. You won’t pay a vet bill if the dog’s still alive, but you can cry hoping to get attention. Maybe the neighbor will shoot a few of them. After all, your unspayed bitch will have more litters. Maybe you’ll be able to sell some puppies for $50 each.
Owners of these packs of dogs must be prosecuted and sent to prison. That is the ONLY way irresponsible dog owners will get the message.
The cattle dog is a tough dog. It has to be in order to herd cattle with the constant risk of being kicked. Add pit bull to that, and one has a nightmare. Note that I have asked a person with cattle dogs if she believes they could kill people. She says yes.
Again, I’m not a lawyer. But my experience with being a violent crime victim (perp was human, not canine) taught me an unpleasant lesson. Local LE and court officials CANNOT be relied upon to always be your advocate in seeking justice. Some of them are not good at their jobs. Some of them don’t want to do their jobs. Some have conflicts of interest. Others mean well but are overwhelmed by case load.
I am concerned that the Davenport family might not be getting top legal advice from the DA’s office in McCurtain County. Has the family retained their own counsel? They do have a civil action case no matter what, since OK is a strict liability state & it does not matter whether the dog owner knew his dogs were dangerous. The owner is liable for the damages the dogs caused (and we have been told that the autopsy showed that the dogs were directly responsible for Cledith Davenport’s death).
I do not believe a wrongful death lawsuit should be the first option in this case, however. I believe it should be the last one when all other options for justice have been exhausted.
Is any legal person other than the county DA’s office advising the family what CRIMINAL laws apply, or could be argued to apply?
I’m having a difficult time swallowing the argument that McCurtain County’s lack of a leash law means that there are zero criminal charges that can be brought against the dogs’ owner, given that an OK state law exists defining death by an at-large animal as second-degree manslaughter, if the condition applies where the animal’s owner knows the animal’s propensities and “willfully suffers it to go at large”:
Note that these two sections are back-to-back because they are related. A dog-mauling death under circumstances
The confusion about the impact of McCurtain County’s lack of leash law on the very clear state statutes listed above is highly unfortunate. I personally do not believe that the non-existence of a county law obviates an existing state one.
No. My understanding is that many state governments concern themselves with defining felony offenses such as “second-degree manslaughter” and leave it up to local governments to pass or not pass things like leash laws … BUT … nothing the local govts do or don’t do about leash laws nullifies, mutes, or otherwise renders the state’s second-degree manslaughter criminal code unenforceable.
If the OK legislature really thought that SS 716 &717 would be nullified or made mute by some county failing to pass a leash law, is it not reasonable to think that state code would specify this very condition? (This section is not obsoleted by the action or inaction of any county or municipality, etc.)
Again, we are not talking about a law passed by McCurtain County trumping state law. We are talking about the idea that NO LAW AT ALL ON THIS ISSUE in McCurtain County trumps state law. Consider this concept in any other context. if McCurtain County has no law prohibiting armed robbery, does that mean someone committing armed robbery in an unincorporated area of the county cannot be prosecuted for that crime?
I would like to hear the rationale from OK legal professionals, starting with the McCurtain County DA’s office, as to why the Davenport family has been told there is no basis for criminal charges against the dogs’ owner.
Totally agree on the nothing accidental about it, Colleen. The family member who is maintaining the Justice for Cledith FB page wrote a comment that there was no pen for these dogs. When they were let out of the house, they were running loose by default, and the owner knew that. It wasn’t “oh I put up a containment system, and they busted through it.” The owner doesn’t appear to have made any effort whatsoever to contain them when they were outside. If this can be proved, that’s “willfully suffers it to go at large” right there.
And thank you for writing to the county DA’s office. I knew you would stay on top of this!
Victims who are thrown into this situation after a dog mauling wind up there with no preparation whatsoever, and they don’t really have time to take a crash course on the (often complex) dog laws and criminal statutes on top of everything else they are dealing with. They end up relying on experts and turning to officials in the hope that justice will be delivered. Sadly this is too often not the case.
You are savvy about these incidents in ways that “new victims” are not because you have spent years learning and advocating. I am thankful that you are involved, trying to help victims and families, and I know other readers of this site feel the same.
How many counties in this country do not have leash laws? And, Why? Where do these counties think they are? In Paradise? Even if dog owners violate leash laws en masse, the law at least potentially provides some possibility of justice.
Colleen, thanks for blogging this. What a story.
I agree with Shep Owner that the county’s lack of a leash law is probably an irrelevant legal technicality: I am skeptical that a lack of a leash law empowers murder-by-dog.
I believe the Davenport’s should retain some top-shelf legal representation sooner rather than later. Its clear that the DA is being passive-aggressive by citing the irrelevant technicality indicated above.
I am going to stick to my narrative here and make the observation that its very likely that the DA is NOT representing “the people” and instead is representing the interests of dogs and dog owners. Again, citing an irrelevant technicality in defense of the dog owner is something you would expect a defense attorney to do, not the DA.