Leeds police investigate dog attack that killed elderly man
by Will Heath
Sep 22, 2012 | 3834 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Authorities from Leeds and St. Clair County were continuing to investigate Friday after an 83-year-old man died during a dog attack Thursday afternoon.

Leeds Police Chief Byron Jackson said Donald Thomas of Weaver Avenue in Leeds (behind Lowe’s) was killed after two dogs attacked him while he walked to his mailbox some time after 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Jackson did not identify the owner of the dogs by name, citing a pending investigation. He did say it was a next door neighbor of the Thomas family.

Leeds police responded to the call just before 4 p.m. Thursday, and officers found Thomas “severely injured” and two rottweiler dogs. The dogs charged an officer, who shot them both.

During a subsequent investigation, Leeds police, assisted by Birmingham Jefferson County Animal Control, Moody police and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, removed 33 additional rottweilers from the property. Jackson said “four truckloads” of dogs were transported to Birmingham, ranging from friendly to dangerous.

Jackson added that many of them were locked in cages that were inadequate for their size. As of press time Friday, authorities were still discussing with District Attorney Richard Minor about whether to bring charges.

“It looked like a breeding operation,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if it was or not; that’s one of the things we’re looking into.”

Efforts to reach Thomas’ widow, Frances Thomas, were unsuccessful. Jackson said she called dispatchers initially to alert them to the attack.

He said that there have been no animal related complaints in the area since Jan. 1 of this year.

“I did have some people tell me about some incidents with the dogs, but apparently those were never reported,” he said.

Contact Will Heath at wheath@thestclairtimes.com.