FRANKLIN COUNTY (WHNT) — A Franklin County woman is still recovering from her injuries after being attacked by several dogs – who are also accused of killing a state health worker that tried to follow up after that incident.
Michelle Sheeks had gone for a walk near her home just before sunrise on April 28 when her husband says she was attacked by a pack of wild dogs. She’s lucky to be alive, he says.
Michelle is still in the hospital recovering from her injuries.
“There’s nothing in life that can ever prepare you for something like this,” said Wesley Sheeks.
Investigators say that several dogs dragged Michelle down a hill on Crumpton Road where she was out of eyesight of any passersby and into a nearby field. A neighbor saw what was happening and came to her aid and saved her life.
“Out of nowhere seven dogs just came out at her,” Wesley said. “It was dark and she couldn’t see them, or she couldn’t hear them. Just took her down and she didn’t really stand a chance. She said she was getting hit by them all at one time.”
“That was our angel that morning,” Wesley said. “He came out with a gun; he saw the dogs attacking her and he shot the gun off in the air and the dogs scattered and he called the ambulance for her.”
Michelle Sheeks suffered injuries so badly to her body that it took six surgeries and grafts to stabilize her. She was transferred to a hospital in Mississippi. Wesley said he has no idea when she will fully recover from the injuries as another surgery is needed. He is asking for prayers as this attack has left the family with no money for medical expenses.
“We don’t have a whole lot of money,” Wesley stated. “We’re just paycheck to paycheck just as a lot of people are. We’re depending on the kindness of others just to get us through this situation.”
Only a day later, Jacqueline Summer Beard, an investigator with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), was attacked while investigating the attack on Michelle.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said the first attack was reported to Franklin County Animal Control, and they believe Beard was killed while trying to locate the dogs’ owner during a follow-up.
Deputies responded to the Crumpton Road area outside Red Bay after somebody called to report a suspicious vehicle. Area residents met the deputies on Crumpton Road, and several dogs started attacking the residents while deputies were there; one received minor injuries. Some of the dogs were euthanized immediately.
Deputies found Beard’s body in the suspicious vehicle, and Coroner Charlie Adcox pronounced her dead.
The dogs’ owner, Brandy Lee Dowdy, 39, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter. She will also face penalties under Emily’s Law, which was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey in March 2018.
Emily’s Law, named in memory of Emily Colvin, who was killed by dogs outside her home in Jackson County in 2017, provides for felony and misdemeanor charges depending on the circumstances surrounding a dangerous dog attack.
According to online court records, Dowdy was released from jail on May 2 on a $60,000 bond.
“My wife and I, our hearts go out to Ms. Beard and her family,” Wesley concluded. “It’s unfortunate that the incident that took place involved her.”
The dogs that attacked Michelle have been euthanized. A GoFundMe has been set up to help with medical expenses.