Estate of ADPH employee killed by dogs in Red Bay sues 29 defendants

The 51-page document has been summarized in the article.
Estate of ADPH employee killed by dogs in Red Bay sues 29 defendants
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 8:17 PM CST
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FRANKLIN CO., Ala. (WAFF) - The estate of an Alabama Department of Public Health worker who was killed by a pack of dogs is suing multiple individuals and a corporation.

The following is the list of defendants in the civil suit:

  • Brandy Dowdy, owner of the dogs
  • Billy Joe Crumpton, owner of the premises on which the dogs were kept
  • Franklin County, AL
  • Joey Wingo, Animal Control Officer
  • Matt Mayfield, Animal Control Officer
  • Clint Holcombe, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy
  • Chris Hill, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy
  • Kyle Palmer, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant
  • Cole Montgomery, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy
  • Franklin County Emergency Communications District, Franklin County 911 Center
  • Fictitious Party Defendants NOs. 1-19., parties who conduct, jointly and severally, contributed to cause the injuries and subsequent death of Beard

The 51-page document has been summarized in the remainder of the article.


On April 30, Summer Beard was attacked and killed by a pack of dogs when she was attempting to contact the owner of the dogs, Brandy Dowdy. The reason Beard was at the home was that she was investigating a dog attack earlier that week led by the same pack of dogs.

The attack Beard was investigating happened the day before her incident with a woman named Michelle Sheeks. Sheeks was walking along/near County Hwy. 11 when she was attacked by approximately 7-9 dogs owned by Dowdy.

Sheeks initially survived the dog attack but according to her husband had “very limited use of any limbs.” Unfortunately less than three months later on July 12, Sheeks succumbed to her injuries.

The owner of the dogs, Dowdy, was arrested in April and indicted on two counts of manslaughter in May. She was also indicted for violating Emily’s Law. During an interview with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office on May 2, Dowdy admitted to owning the dogs. She also could not provide a certificate of any current immunization for the dogs at any point.

While out on bond, Dowdy was arrested on July 10 for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. After her arrest, the State filed a motion to revoke her bond in the manslaughter case. A Franklin County court then revoked her bond on the possession charges.

On Oct. 10 Dowdy filed a not-guilty plea to the manslaughter charges.

Dowdy and the dogs

One of the defendants named is Billy Joe Crumpton who owned the premises on which the dogs were held, court documents state that he allowed Dowdy to harbor the dogs at the premises.

According to the complaint, at some point before 10:50 a.m. on April 28, the day Sheeks was attacked, Joey Wingo, Matt Mayfield and others listed as defendants went to the Dowdy’s premises to observe the dogs and speak with her.

Wingo and Mayfield observed approximately 6-7 dogs and saw blood on a brown dog, the complaint states that the same dog bit the neighbor’s son on April 23 and attacked Sheeks later that morning.

Between 10:56 a.m. and 11:36 a.m. that same morning Summer Beard, talked with Wingo and Mayfield on the phone approximately 6 times. Court documents state that during one of those calls Wingo put Beard on speaker so that she could speak with Dowdy. Beard explained to Dowdy that the dogs had to be quarantined since they had bitten someone. Wingo and Mayfield reaffirmed this.

Beard, a public health worker, did not go to the premises on April 28 so that Wingo and Mayfield could capture and quarantine the dogs in accordance with applicable laws and ordinances before she went.

According to documents, Wingo and Mayfield observed that none of the dogs were wearing a rabies immunization stage in violation of the rabies control laws. Wingo and Mayfield left the premises without capturing or quarantining the dogs despite knowledge of Beard’s arrival. At the time the group was driving an animal control truck equipped with things such as catch poles and a tranquilizer gun in the truck.

Around lunchtime, on the same day, Dowdy’s neighbor called the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to provide a statement about the dogs and the attack on Michelle Sheeks. The complaint states that the sheriff’s office declined to take the statement and said they had everything they needed.

Wingo and Mayfield left the premises.

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

Dowdy requested that Wingo, Mayfield and deputies with the FCSO come back and get the dogs for quarantine. The complaint states that the defendants ignored Dowdy’s request and took no action.

As listed in the document, Franklin County, Wingo, Mayfield, FCSO deputies/sergeant, the Franklin County 911 Center and fictitious party defendants NOs. 1-19 did not respond to Dowdy’s requests and did not report her calls to euthanize the dogs to any other person including Beard.

Residents were frustrated with the inaction of the defendants listed above following the Sheeks attack as the dogs were allowed to roam even after the attack on Sheeks.

Due to their inaction, the same residents sought to euthanize the dogs to protect themselves and the community but the listed defendants prevented them from doing so.

The day Sheeks was attacked, April 28, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Hill and fictitious party defendant NOs. 1-19 ordered residents not to shoot the dogs because of the upcoming Sheriff’s election which was a month away and also threatened to arrest anyone that shot the dogs.

The listed defendants were responsible for capturing the dogs immediately after the attack on Sheeks and after the dogs were captured the defendants were required to assist Beard in her dog bite investigation.

Summer Beard

Beard was an employee of the Alabama Department of Public Health and was prohibited from carrying any type of weapon.

Beard arrived at Crumpton and Dowdy’s home at approximately 12:20 p.m. under the impression that the dogs had already been captured by the defendants.

According to the complaint, an individual who worked with Beard for 10 or more years made the following Facebook post demonstrating that Beard believed that the dogs had already been captured.

I honestly don’t think she [BEARD] thought for a second that the dogs were still roaming loose on the property. She was going there to speak to the owners of the dogs to find out about [the] rabies status of [the] dogs and having them put down. . . . [L]ike I said[,] I don’t think she knew the dogs were still there, usually after a dog attack the dogs are put up, if not put down, immediately by animal control. Someone failed to do their job and it cost this lady her life. I agree the dogs should have been put down immediately. The lady that was attacked first [SHEEKS] is still in the hospital waiting for more surgeries. She’s in bad shape. This wasn’t just a dog bite, those dogs were aiming to kill . . . .

The court document states that if Beard was informed that Dowdy has requested for the defendants to capture the dogs she would have never been attacked. It also states that if she would have known that the dogs had not been captured she would have requested that animal control or law enforcement accompany her to the premises. Additionally, if Beard had known that Dowdy consented that the dogs be euthanized, the dogs would have been tested for rabies and there would have been no reason for Beard to visit the premises.

Beard was attacked at approximately 12:30 p.m. after she had taped a letter and business card to Dowdy’s door. At approximately 5:05 p.m. Deputy Hill was dispatched to Dowdy’s home regarding a suspicious vehicle which was Beard’s. Deputy Hill arrived 20 minutes later but he could not get out of his vehicle because the dogs were circling his vehicle and growling at home. He also noticed blood on the dogs.

FCSO Deputy Clint Holcombe and Fictitious Party Defendants NOs. 1-19 arrived at Dowdy’s home shortly after. Upon their arrival, they witnessed the dogs dragging the father of Dowdy’s neighbor down to the ground. Deputy Holcombe deployed his taser to get the dogs to disperse.

The defendants made phone calls to decide what should be done with the dogs and the decision was made to immediately euthanize them.

After the decision was made Wingo, Mayfield and other defendants did not take any action to capture the dogs. Instead, the residents were forced to protect the community by euthanizing the dogs themselves without any assistance from the defendants.

Beard was pronounced dead by the Franklin County Coroner at 6:40 p.m.

On May 1, Deputy Holcombe contacted Dowdy’s neighbor to have an in-person meeting at their house to discuss the Sheeks and Beard attacks. The meeting between the neighbor, Holcombe and the FCSO Sheriff lasted an hour.

During that meeting, the Sheriff and Holcombe explained that law enforcement officers did not shoot the dogs and prevented residents and neighbors from shooting the dogs because they did not want to get sued.

Social Media

Following the attacks on Sheeks and Beard, residents of Franklin County went to social media to shed light on the lack of animal control.

The FCSO posted a statement after Beard’s death, it has since been taken down. Despite it being deleted evidence of the post is still available online.

Despite it being deleted evidence of the post is still available online.
Despite it being deleted evidence of the post is still available online.(MDW)

The complaint states that the post was taken down due to numerous comments about how the dogs had been a known and reported problem in the area before the attacks on Sheeks and Beard.

The following is from a post made by Deputy Holcombe after the Sheeks and Beard attacks where he attempted to pin the blame on Animal Control officers.

Post made by Deputy Holcombe after the Sheeks and Beard attacks where he attempted to pin the...
Post made by Deputy Holcombe after the Sheeks and Beard attacks where he attempted to pin the blame on Animal Control officers.(MDW)

Holcombe’s post was also deleted for the same reason that the FCSO’s post was deleted. Contrary to the assertions in Holcombe’s post, Wingo, an animal control officer stated the following in a letter written on July 18.

In the event of a bite on private property,the Sheriff’s Department and Health Department are generally notified first and investigate the incident. They notify Animal Control of the occurrence but if an event happens on private property, the Health Department handles the case along with the property owner and animal owner. Franklin County Animal Control will respond to incidences on public right of ways in Franklin County.

Sandy Fortner, a volunteer at Save Our Strays Franklin County, shared the following story during a Frankly County Commission meeting on Nov. 14. She stated that she has personally experienced the defendants’ inaction and is often forced to pick up defendants’ slack on her own.

We [local shelter volunteers] are doing the work of the animal control officers. You cannot get them [animal control officers] motivated to answer a call. People call animal control, no answer, no return call. They call us, we go. We don’t mind doing it, but its to the point that its being used like an entitlement: “You know okay, no big deal, we’ll [animal control officers] do whatever we want to [do] and they’ll [local shelter volunteers] take care of it.”... Something has got to be done now to attempt to put a stop to this because we’re running ourselves to death trying to do the work of animal control. . . . [Franklin County has] two animal control officers that you can’t get on the phone. ... The officers don’t know the law. They’re clueless. ... The sad thing about it is that when those Dogs attacked [SHEEKS], immediately animal control should have gone out there, contained them according to state law, and tested them for infectious diseases, including rabies. . . . She [BEARD] went out there unknowingly right into the same tragic situation, and then the Dogs still were not contained.

Connie Plunkett, a Franklin County resident shared her personal experience with defendants passing the buck in a circular pattern when she lived on Hwy. 11, the same location in which Sheeks was attacked.

Connie Plunkett, a Franklin County resident shared her personal experience with defendants...
Connie Plunkett, a Franklin County resident shared her personal experience with defendants passing the buck in a circular pattern when she lived on Hwy. 11, the same location in which Sheeks was attacked.(MDW)

The complaint goes on to list 7 more residents of the area


The court document lists eight counts of negligence/wantonness on all defendants listed and closes out the complaint with the following statement:

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, Plaintiff demands judgment against each named and fictitious Defendant, jointly and severally, in an amount that exceeds the jurisdictional limits of this Court, to be determined by a struck jury. Plaintiff requests a verdict in Plaintiff’s favor and against each Defendant, named and fictitious, and an award of punitive damages to the Plaintiff in an amount which will adequately reflect the enormity of the Defendants’ wrongful acts and which will effectively prevent other similar wrongful acts, together with the cost of this proceeding. Plaintiff further requests that the Court enter judgment consistent with the verdict.