First Victim Dies of Complications from Dog Attack Injuries
Summer Beard and Michele Sheeks died after being attacked by the same pack of dogs.
Estate of ADPH Victim Sues
UPDATE 01/20/23: In December 2022, the estate of Jaqueline Summer Beard, an Alabama Department of Health employee, sued 29 parties, individuals and corporations, in connection to Beard’s mauling death on April 29, 2022. At the time of the attack, Beard had been investigating an attack at 96 Crumpton Road in Red Bay that occurred one day earlier by the same seven dogs, which sent 44-year old Michelle Sheeks to a trauma center in Mississippi, where she died in July.
Beard’s estate is suing the dog’s owner, Brandy Dowdy -- who currently faces two counts of manslaughter -- the property owner, Billy Joe Crumpton, two animal control officers, four officers from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County, AL, the Franklin County Emergency Communications District, the Franklin County 911 Call Center and 19 fictitious defendants whose conduct -- jointly and severally -- contributed to the cause of injuries and death of Beard.
On April 28, at about 10:50 am, after Sheeks had been attacked, animal control officers and other defendants went to Dowdy’s home to observe the dogs and talk to her. At least one of her dogs that had blood on it had previously bitten a boy on April 23. Beard spoke with the officers at the scene via phone, as well as to Dowdy, explaining that her dogs needed to be quarantined. Beard went to the Dowdy property the next day, under the belief the dogs had already been seized.
But the dogs had not been removed. The two animal control officers left the premises on April 28 without capturing or quarantining Dowdy’s dogs. At that time, the officers were driving an animal control truck equipped with catch poles and a tranquilizer gun. Dowdy contacted defendants later that day requesting that they remove and euthanize her dogs, but no Franklin County office, including the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office or 911 Call Center, responded to her request.
Beard arrived at Dowdy’s home at about 12:20 pm the next day, April 29, under the impression the dogs had been removed. Beard was attacked by the dog pack about 10 minutes later, after she had taped information to Dowdy’s door. Beard laid dead on the property until 5:30 pm, until a deputy was dispatched to the home due to a “suspicious vehicle” on the property, which was Beard’s. When the deputy arrived, he could not exit his vehicle because of the aggressive dogs.
Despite the dangerousness of the situation, and two violent attacks, deputies and arriving animal control officers still did nothing to capture the dogs on the 29th. Instead, neighbors were forced to shoot and kill the dogs themselves. Apparently, the reason being is because the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office’s (FCSO) was afraid of being sued. And or, the conflicting report that FCSO ordered no shootings of the dogs because of an “upcoming sheriff’s election,” alleges the lawsuit.
AL.com also reports that Franklin County officials had knowledge of the vicious propensities of these dogs at least a year before the dog pack killed Beard. The 911 Call Center, sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers, “had actual knowledge that the dogs were unvaccinated; had been roaming at large in the area; attacking nearby animals and killing livestock; and biting neighbors for at least a year before Beard was violently attacked and killed by the dogs,” alleges the lawsuit.
07/13/22: Victim Dies While Hospitalized
On the morning of April 28, Michele Sheeks, 44, was walking down County Highway 11 south of Red Bay. When she got near Crumpton Road, a pack of dogs viciously attacked her. "They took her down and basically drug her probably about ten yards off the road, through a fire patch and barbed wire fence down in the edge of the pasture," her husband Wesley said back in May. She was airlifted to a hospital in Mississippi. Sheeks died while still hospitalized on July 12, 2022.
The morning after Sheeks was attacked, an Alabama public health employee drove to the dog owner's home on Crumpton Road to investigate Sheek's attack. Jacqueline Summer Beard never spoke to the dogs' owner. Beard was attacked and killed by the same dogs shortly after she got out of her vehicle. The owner of the dogs, Brandy Dowdy, 39, was arrested and charged with manslaughter and offenses under the state's dangerous dog law in connection to Beard's death.
The status updates on the fundraiser for Meeks are heartbreaking. She initially underwent multiple surgeries, including skin grafts on both arms, muscle grafts on both legs and "a skin graft to cover the muscle graft on each leg." By May 21, her husband Wesley reported there are "way too many procedures done at this point." By May 29, "both bacterial and fungal infection set up in both legs and said they still can't rule out the possibility of having to do some amputation," Wesley states.
On June 8, Wesley said, "Michele is now on a ventilator and we don't know for sure what is going on." On July 13, he announced on his Facebook page, "I lost the love of my life Michele Dill Sheeks last night around 10:50 pm." Doctors said, "her heart just stopped." Wesley told WHNT, "Unfortunately she never got the chance to leave that hospital." Sheeks died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center due to complications from the dog attack injuries late Tuesday night.
On June 16, Sheeks filed a civil lawsuit against Brandy Dowdy and her father Billy Joe Crumpton, who owns the premises where the dogs resided. The Complaint alleges multiple items, including that defendants "carelessly" managed the dogs that defendants "knew or should have known to be dangerous" and "negligently, wantonly, or recklessly failed to take reasonable steps to restrain, confine" the dogs, or take other reasonable actions that would have prevented the attack.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said that charges against Dowdy included a charge under the state's dangerous dog law (Emily's Law) for the attack inflicted on Sheeks. Oliver said that charge will be upgraded to manslaughter due to her death. As of July 10, Dowdy was back behind bars after being arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. After this arrest, the State of Alabama filed a motion to revoke her bond in her manslaughter case.
05/08/22: More Details Released
On April 29, an Alabama public health employee went to a dog owner's home on Crumpton Road at about 10:00 am to investigate a serious dog attack that occurred a day earlier involving at least six dogs. She was mauled and killed by these same vicious dogs, likely just after getting out of her vehicle. Authorities found Jacqueline Summer Beard's body after receiving reports of a suspicious vehicle at the home at 6:00 pm. Beard had been lying dead near her car for up to eight hours.
The owner of the dogs, Brandy Dowdy, 39, was arrested and charged with manslaughter and offenses under the state's dangerous dog law.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver stated that a person living at the dog owner's residence is who called in the suspicious vehicle. "Around 6:00 pm we received a call from a person that lives in the house that there was a suspicious vehicle in the yard," Oliver said. "She was on the property of the people where the dogs belonged to," Sheriff Oliver said. "We're not able to confirm if they heard anything, the people at the house, or if they were even there [at the time]," Oliver said.
One day earlier, the same pack of dogs bolted off the Crumpton Road property and attacked a woman walking down nearby Highway 11 South. Michele Sheeks was airlifted to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo for treatment and then transferred to University Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. WAAY-TV reports that Sheeks is still hospitalized and will be for some time. Her husband, Wesley Sheeks, said the dogs jumped her all at once then drug her off the road.
"She had no idea they were there until they were on top of her," Wesley said. "They didn't come at her one at a time and just sort of tag team. They all jumped on her at once. They took her down and basically drug her probably about ten yards off the road, through a fire patch and barbed wire fence down in the edge of the pasture," he said. A neighbor first came to her aid that day, Wesley said. If the neighbor had not acted quickly, his wife might not be alive today, Wesley said.
The Red Bay News (who has since placed this article behind a pay wall), reports that Sheriff Oliver said it is believed Beard arrived at the home on Crumpton Road that morning at 10:00 am. "She went there to talk to the owners about putting the dogs up because they didn’t have their shots or signing them over to be euthanized," Sheriff Oliver said. Dowdy, who neighbors described as a "dog advocate" that "owned about 27 dogs," apparently was not home when Summer arrived.
After Sheeks was attacked by the dogs on April 28, Sheriff Oliver told The Red Bay News that when deputies and animal control went to the scene afterward, "the dogs that were there were friendly, and they petted them. There wasn't any problem." No information was provided about why the dogs remained on Dowdy's property after the first attack or what officials communicated to Dowdy, who not only possessed a pack of vicious dogs, but was potentially animal hoarding.
"ADPH investigates animal bites as part of its Environmental Health Program, due to potential risks for human rabies exposure. The safety of ADPH team members is paramount in day to day public health activities. Employees may, as part of their duties, carry out investigations or other visits individually. Employees may request and receive assistance with law enforcement, as needed." - Alabama Department of Public Health
Owner & Breeds Involved
Seven dogs believed to be involved in both attacks were euthanized, Sheriff Oliver said. The breeds of dogs involved have not been released. What is known is that Dowdy owns or has owned a pit bull in the past and that she is a pit bull advocate. In 2015, Dowdy and her then husband David acquired Rowdy, according to his Facebook page. The couple is no longer involved. It's unclear what became of Rowdy, or which partner took that dog after the two called it quits.
Dowdy's most recent public post about pit bulls was published on December 5, 2021, saying that pit bulls "have the biggest hearts and get treated the worst." On October 28, 2018 she posted a pit bull propaganda video by The Dodo -- "Pittie vs. very scary pineapple." On October 1, 2017, she posted a Pit Bull Awareness month meme. On May 19, 2017, Dowdy published a post, "If only people gave them a chance!! They are the most loving babies!! Stop breed discrimination!!"
City Discusses Pit Bulls
One month after the attacks involving Beard and Sheeks, Red Bay City Council began discussing the possibility of regulating pit bulls inside the city limits. "The topic was introduced during the council’s June 1 regular meeting, as Ordinance 20220615," reports the Franklin County Times. At that time, Red Bay Mayor Charlene Fancher stated that the new ordinance was in part due to the vicious attacks involving Beard and Sheeks, implying that pit bulls were involved in both attacks.
Red Bay Mayor Charlene Fancher said she wants everyone to understand the purpose of introducing an ordinance regulating the keeping and possession of pit bulls within the city limits.
“Just recently, the death and mauling of two women occurred as a result of a dog attack just outside the city limits -- and I mean just right out of the city limits,” Fancher emphasized. “The city experiences many incidents involving pit bull dogs.” - Franklin County Times
Fancher also wanted the new ordinance to address hoarding, another element involved in the Beard and Sheeks attacks. It was reported that Dowdy, who often advocated for pit bulls on her Facebook page, had 27 dogs on her property at the time of the fatal attacks. In March 2023, Fancher clarified pit bulls being involved in both attacks: “It started last summer when we had the horrific situation with the pit bulls,” she noted, referring to the attacks of Beard and Sheeks.
04/30/22: Multiple Victims; One Dead
Franklin County, AL - On Thursday, April 28, 2022, a woman walking along Highway 11 South near Crumpton Road, close to the Mississippi border, was attacked by six dogs that bolted out of a nearby yard. She was transported to the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo then transferred to the University Medical Center in Jackson. The following day, the same dogs killed a state public health employee who had been trying to follow up with the owner of the dogs.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a woman after a pack of dangerous dogs attacked her earlier today. Alabama Department of Public Health employee was following up on the dog attack from earlier this week when she was attacked by the same pack of dogs. The employee, Jacqueline Summer Beard, was located after someone called about a suspicious vehicle on Crumpton Road outside of Red Bay. When deputies arrived, they were met by residents on Crumpton road. Several dogs started attacking the residents when deputies were there, and one person received minor injuries. Some of the dogs had to be euthanized immediately. When the deputies started investigating the suspicious vehicle, they located the body of Jacqueline Beard. Franklin County Coroner Charlie Adcox was summoned and pronounced Beard deceased. Beard was following up on an incident that had been reported to Franklin County Animal Control where a lady was attacked by a pack of dogs earlier this week. It is believed that Beard was attacked as she was attempting to contact the dog’s owner when she was killed by the dogs. Investigators have arrested Brandy Dowdy for Manslaughter and Dangerous Dog law, (Emily’s Law). - Franklin County Sheriff's Office
The investigation into the second victim's attack began after someone called in a suspicious vehicle on Crumpton Road south of Red Bay. Arriving deputies were met by residents. As they gathered on the roadside, several dogs started attacking the residents. Multiple dogs were dispatched at the scene. When deputies began investigating the suspicious vehicle, they located the body of Jacqueline Summer Beard, 58, an Alabama Department of Public Health employee.
The owner of the dogs, Brandy Lee Dowdy, 39, was arrested and charged with manslaughter and violations of the state's Dangerous Dog law named after Emily Colvin. If a canine "attacks and causes serious physical injury or death to a person, and the owner of the dog had prior knowledge of the dangerous propensities of the dog, yet demonstrated a reckless disregard of the propensities under the circumstances, the owner of the dog shall be guilty of a Class C felony."
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said the first victim, who has yet to be identified, remains hospitalized in Mississippi and was in "pretty serious condition." Seven dogs were involved in the attacks, according to Oliver, some were euthanized at the scene Friday. No dogs were seized by authorities after the first attack. No breed descriptions were released by authorities. Depending upon what investigators learn, Dowdy could be charged under Emily's Law for both attacks.
April 10 to April 29
Since April 10, at least eight people in the U.S. have been killed by dogs. All of these victims were adults, 38-years and older. At least five of the attacks involved multiple dogs and six deaths, 75%, involved females 42-years and older. In most of the attacks, 5 of 8, breed data was not released by police because the attacks were unwitnessed and the data was likely unknown, or in the Kewanee and Wichita cases, both male deaths, the breed data was apparently just withheld.
04/05/18: 2017 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill 24-Year Old Woman in Jackson County, Alabama
10/20/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Killed by a Pack of Dogs in Walker County, Alabama
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.