Three Family Members Charged with Felony Offenses
Avery Jackson-Dunphy, 6, was killed by dogs being fostered by his grandparents.
Family Members Charged
UPDATE 08/01/22: Three family members have been charged in connection to the death of 6-year old Avery Jackson-Dunphy last November. His mother, Danika Jackson, 33, is charged with reckless child abuse resulting in death. His grandfather, Kevin Owens, 61, is charged with two felony counts, reckless child abuse resulting in death and dangerous dogs resulting in death. The boy's grandmother, Leslie Owens, 63, is also charged with dangerous dogs resulting in death.
Avery Jackson-Dunphy was killed by at least three dogs while visiting his grandparents' Mesilla Park home on November 22, 2021. Doña Ana County Animal Control euthanized six dogs taken from the property that day. Three of these dogs, a mother and her two offspring, were being fostered by the boy's grandfather from the city and county operated animal shelter. Behavioral notes of the dogs being fostered states the mother dog had started becoming aggressive.
"At the urging of Avery’s father, Patrick Dunphy and his family, we asked the Sheriff’s Department for their investigation into the child’s death. The District Attorney’s Office was not notified of the incident by the Sheriff’s office and learned of the child’s death through media reports. As the chief law officer of the state in Doña Ana County; I have the authority to advise on matters in the public interest, and bring criminal charges, especially when it involves a death investigation. This is a horrible and tragic incident. During the review process, we assessed the facts in view of the relevant law and presented the case to the Grand Jury which found probable cause to charge each named defendant with felony offenses." - Third Judicial District Attorney, Gerald Byers.
Third Judicial District Attorney Gerald Byers responds to felony charges in fatal dog mauling case.
12/31/21: Municipal Shelter Dogs
Weeks after mauling death of 6-year old Avery Jackson-Dunphy, it was revealed that three of the six dogs that were immediately euthanized after his death were foster dogs from the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV), just as DogsBite initially suspected. ASCMV operates through a joint powers agreement between the governing bodies of the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County and is the only open-admission municipal shelter in the county.
The three dogs were an intact female, identified as a black "mixed-breed (medium) dog" and her two 4-month old puppies. It was noted in an early August ASCMV memo that the mother dog was "becoming a little aggressive" with Kevin Owens, the child's grandfather who began fostering the three dogs in early July. "She will growl at them [the caretakers] if they touch the pups." The mother, and up to five other dogs (four being puppies) fatally attacked Avery three months later.
The memo also stated, "[Kevin] is willing to work with her for a month after to see if her aggressive behavior changes," referring to a month after it became okay to separate the puppies from the mother dog. It is unknown how the mother dog's behavior transpired after August. Information about the other three dogs involved is also unknown. Previously, all six dogs were described as shepherd-type and border collie-mix breeds, of which the mother dog and her offspring are neither.
Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley now joins a growing number of taxpayer-funded municipal shelters, in whole or part, since 2014 that have adopted out, fostered out or transferred a dog to a rescue that subsequently killed a child or an adult. Since Avery's death, Doña Ana County State Representative Joanne Ferrary began advocating for stricter fostering guidelines and awareness that would require foster parents to be trained and educated if they want to foster.
Shelter Dog Inflicted Deaths
- 2021 - ASC of the Mesilla Valley (NM) - Avery Jackson-Dunphy, 6-years old
- 2021 - Wake County Animal Center (NC) - Jayden Henderson, 7-years old
- 2020 - Miami-Dade Animal Services (FL) - Carolyn Varanese, 84-years old
- 2019 - Humane Society of St. Lucie County (FL) - Christine Liquori, 52-years old
- 2018 - Pinellas County Animal Services (FL) - Infant Khloe Williams
- 2018 - The Animal Foundation (NV) - Susan Sweeney, 58-years old
- 2018 - Logan County Pound (WV) - Robin Conway, 64-years old
- 2018 - Henderson Animal Shelter (NV) - Bradley Cline, 62-years old
- 2017 - El Paso Animal Services (TX) - Jacob Brooks, 4-years old
- 2017 - New York City Animal Care Centers (NY) - Margaret Colvin, 91-years old
- 2017 - Kent County Animal Shelter (MI) - Infant Susannah Murray
- 2016 - San Diego Humane Society (CA) - Infant Sebastian Caban
- 2015 - Jackson-Madison County Pound (TN) - Anthony Riggs, 57-years old
- 2015 - Asheville Humane Society (NC) - Joshua Strother, 6-years old
- 2015 - Rochester Animal Services (NY) - Anthony Wind, 26-years old
- 2014 - Branford Animal Shelter (CT) - Rita Pepe, 93-years old
12/15/21: Parents Feud in Court
This week, new information has been released about the vicious dog mauling death of Avery Jackson-Dunphy. We learned that the boy's mother, Danika Thompson, filed a petition to be appointed as the wrongful death representative of the estate of her son within 48 hours of his death. Notably, Thompson was present on the property when her son was fatally attacked on her father's property (the child's grandfather). KFOX-TV also captured the grandfather's 911 call.
Thompson's legal action was followed by action from the child's father, Patrick Dunphy, indicating that he will name Thompson as a party responsible for the boy's death. According to online dockets at New Mexico Courts, the mother and father have been in custody litigation since 2015. The report from the Las Cruces Sun-News also provided breed information. The six dogs were described as shepherd-type mixes and border collie mixes -- two adults and four puppies.
11/26/21: Foster Dogs Kill Boy
Mesilla, NM - On Tuesday, it was reported that a 6-year boy was mauled to death by one or more dogs. Deputies were called to a home in the 500 block of Fort Fillmore Road around 9:45 am after reports that a small child had been attacked by a dog. When they arrived, they found the boy severely injured. The child was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in El Paso, where he died. The boy apparently was able to enter into a pen that was housing six dogs -- all six dogs were euthanized.
The attack occurred at the boy's grandparents' home. According to a police report, the boy and his grandfather were playing outside when his grandfather stepped away for about 10 minutes, reports the Las Cruces Sun News. The grandfather told police he was called inside by some men working on his house. Shortly afterward, the boy's mother and grandmother realized the boy had gotten into the dogs' pen. The dogs were all being fostered, according to the police report.
Doña Ana County sheriff's deputies said that two dogs, both described as large, had blood on their heads after the incident. According to the police report, the boy suffered severe wounds from the dogs, including injuries to his neck and chest. How the boy was able to enter into the caged area was not released. The child's name was not released. The breeds of dogs involved in the child's death were not released. The agency that owned the dogs being fostered was not released either.
Thus, it is unknown if the county animal services "public agency" -- Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley -- owned these dogs.1
On November 28, KVIA News identified the boy as 6-year old Avery Jackson Dunphy. The celebration of life for Avery was held at Real Life Church in Las Cruces. The Las Cruces Fire Department was present, as well as other emergency personnel. Family members said his death was preventable, and that his "life needs to be celebrated and not to have died in vain." The breeds of dogs involved have not been disclosed by the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office.
05/30/21: 2021 Dog Bite Fatality: New Mexico Dog Owner Charged with Tampering after Death
01/16/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Killed by Pack of Dogs on Tribal Land at Taos Pueble
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.