“In 27 years I’ve never seen anything like this,” Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver told WTVA.
Those same dogs were the reason Beard had been visiting the area that morning, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said. A 58-year-old employee for the Alabama Department of Public Health, Beard was following up on a report of a woman being attacked by a pack of dogs on Thursday.
By Friday night, investigators had arrested Brandy Lee Dowdy, the 39-year-old owner of the dogs. She was charged with manslaughter, the sheriff’s office said. Jail records do not list attorney for Dowdy, and bond has not yet been set.
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Law enforcement officials also invoked Emily’s Law, legislation passed in 2018 that allows prosecutors to charge dog owners with felonies if their animal gravely injures or kills someone and the owner has been aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior. The law also creates guidelines for euthanizing the animal.
The legislation is in memory of Emily Colvin, who at 24 years old died after being attacked by five dogs outside her home in northeast Alabama in December 2017, AL.com reported. The dogs were put down. A week before Colvin’s death, another woman, 46-year-old Tracey Patterson Cornelius, also was killed by a pack of dogs. A second woman was seriously injured in the same incident, according to AL.com. Similar fatal instances in the state happened in 2020 to a 36-year-old mother of four and in 2021 to a 70-year old man.
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Beard went to the Red Bay area on Friday to investigate a dog attack that occurred Thursday afternoon when a woman on a walk was mauled by the animals.
“She was in pretty serious condition,” Oliver, the sheriff, told AL.com.
Investigators said Beard was attempting to contact the owner of the dogs when she was killed.
The dogs attacked people again about 6 pm, when sheriff’s deputies arrived to investigate the suspicious car that had been parked alongside the road all day, law enforcement said.
“When deputies arrived, they were met by residents on Crumpton Road,” the sheriff’s office said. “Several dogs started attacking the residents when deputies were there, and one person received minor injuries.”
There were seven dogs in total, Oliver said. Some were “euthanized immediately,” according to the sheriff’s office.
Ryan Easterling, acting director of communications for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said in a statement to news outlets that the department is grieving Beard’s death.
“Summer was known to her coworkers as an exceptional person. She was a tremendous team worker and was loved by those who knew her,” he said. “It is a very sad day for ADPH.”