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Article updated: 11/21/2012 2:58 PM

Mastiff in fatal Big Rock attack euthanized

By Harry Hitzeman

A bull mastiff that authorities believe attacked and killed a Big Rock woman last week has been euthanized, officials said Wednesday.

The husband of Dawn Brown, a firefighter/paramedic for the Bristol Kendall Fire Protection District, requested the dog be put down and it was euthanized Monday, according to the Barbara Jeffers. interim director at the Kane County Health Department, which oversees the county's animal control shelter.

"It's a terrible situation and it is a tragedy," Jeffers said.

The 6-year-old male mastiff, who was adopted a week before the Nov. 12 fatal attack, and two other dogs owned by the Browns have been held by the county's animal control department.

Jeffers said the two other dogs could be released early next week once the sheriff's department completes its investigation. Neither dog had any scratches or wounds when they were taken in last week, she said.

Browns's husband found his wife the afternoon of Nov. 12 in the basement of their home.

Dawn Brown, 44, was the only person home at the time and authorities concluded she died of injuries inflicted by the mastiff.

Authorities have declined to speculate on what may have caused the dog to turn on Brown, but some have suggested she might have been fatally injured trying to break up a fight between the mastiff and her other dogs, a pit bull mix and a boxer.

Jeffers said that if Brown's husband did not want the mastiff put down, health department officials or the state's attorney's office would have had to initiate court proceedings to have the dog declared "vicious."

"Fortunately, we didn't have to take that route. But before you euthanize a dog, we have to have some evidence as to why. You can't do it on hearsay," Jeffers said, noting that neither she nor the county's animal control shelter, which opened in 2007, had dealt with a dog that had killed a human.

"This is new territory for us. We're being very cautious and very deliberate in our actions."

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