A longtime employee of the Alabama Department of Public Health died Friday after she was attacked by a pack of dogs, the authorities said.
The Franklin County sheriff’s office identified the employee as Jacqueline Summer Beard. She was 58 and lived in Muscle Shoals.
Deputies found her body while investigating on Crumpton Road in a rural area south of the northwest Alabama town of Red Bay, near the Mississippi state line.
Beard was as an environmentalist supervisor in Franklin, Marion and Winston counties, according to the ADPH. She worked for the health department for almost 17 years.
“The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) extends our deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and colleagues of Summer Beard, after her tragic passing,” Ryan Easterling, the director of the ADPH’s Health Media and Communications Division, said in a statement. “Summer was known to her coworkers as an exceptional person. She was a tremendous team worker and was loved by those who knew her.
“It is a very sad day for ADPH, and we ask that everyone respect the privacy of the family during this most difficult time.”
Shannon Oliver, the sheriff of Franklin County, told AL.com Beard was apparently in the area to follow up on a dog attack that happened earlier in the week.
In that previous attack, a pack of dogs mauled a woman while she was walking. Oliver said the woman remains hospitalized in Mississippi.
“She was in pretty serious condition,” he said.
Authorities said they believe Beard went to do her follow-up visit on Friday morning. The health department investigates animal bites due to potential risks for human rabies exposure.
At about 6 p.m., deputies went to Crumpton Road to investigate a report of a suspicious vehicle and found Beard’s body.
While they were on the scene, deputies said, several of the same dogs that attacked Beard and the other woman began attacking local residents. One person suffered minor injuries.
“It is believed that Beard was attacked as she was attempting to contact the dog’s owner when she was killed by the dogs,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Deputies arrested Brandy Dowdy, the owner of the dogs, and charged her with manslaughter. Franklin County jail records show the 39-year-old is held without bail set.
Oliver said there were seven dogs. Some were euthanized immediately, according to the sheriff’s office.
“The safety of ADPH team members is paramount in day to day public health activities,” Easterling told AL.com in a statement. “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.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Dowdy’s age.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12:02 p.m. to add a statement from ADPH. It was updated again at 4:21 p.m. with an additional statement from ADPH.
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