UPDATE: Firefighter Died of Attack From Her Own Dog
Dawn Brown was home alone at the time of the attack. Here are more details.
Editor's note: This story was updated Wednesday evening to include more information about why the Browns took in the dog.
A 44-year-old firefighter from western Kane County died as a result of wounds sustained from a dog attack in her home, according to police.
Dawn Brown was found dead Monday inside her home, located on the 400 block of Jefferson Street in Big Rock. The Kane County Coroner completed an autopsy and determined that Brown died of attack wounds from a mastiff, one of three dogs that she and her husband own.
The Browns got the mastiff about a week ago from a family member, said Lt. Pat Gengler, Kane County Sheriff's Office spokesman. The dog does not have a history of aggression.
"We really don’t know what prompted the attack and probably won’t ever know," Gengler said.
Brown was a full-time firefighter/paramedic for the Bristol Kendall Fire Protection District. She was also a part-time paramedic for the Big Rock Fire Protection District.
Her death stunned members of the two districts, especially Big Rock, who responded to the scene to find one of their own. Before the autopsy, some of her coworkers initially believed her death to be the result of an accident.
On Tuesday Bristol Kendall Fire Chief Michael Hitzemann said Brown was a valued member of the district.
“She was a kind and caring person … a quality person,” a shaken Hitzemann said Tuesday morning. “We’re just devastated.”
Brown's compassion was the reason why she took the mastiff in, said Lt. David Denison of the Big Rock Fire Protection District.
The mastiff's former owners recently had a baby, and they weren't sure the large dog would work well with the newborn, Denison said on Wednesday. The dog likely would have been put down if not for Brown rescuing it, he said.
Others who knew Brown have shared their thoughts on the Yorkville Facebook page and the story initially announcing her death. Alethia Hummel, who worked with Brown several years ago, described Brown as "so kind, cheery and a true pleasure to be around."
Hummel was not alone in describing Brown in such a manner.
"Dawn was just one of those people who immediately put you at ease during emergency situations and she was just an overall good person. I only knew her briefly, but I could tell what a kind and caring person she was," Megan Gessler said.
In addition to her duties as a firefighter and paramedic, Brown served as a member of the district’s honor guard, a group that participated in the memorial services of other fallen firefighters.
Besides the dogs, Brown was home alone at the time of the attack, the Kane County Sheriff's Office said. Her husband, also a Big Rock volunteer firefighter, returned home from work and found her deceased, Gengler said.
Kane County Animal Control has taken custody of the mastiff and the two other dogs, a boxer and pit bull mix, according to the Sheriff's Office. They were all taken into custody when the investigation started because investigators were not sure what exactly had occurred, Gengler said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no decision had been made yet on whether to keep the mastiff alive.
A mastiff is a large, massive dog that is powerful yet gentle and loyal, according to the Mastiff page on the American Kennel Club website. Males can have a height of 30 inches tall at the shoulder and females have a height of 27.5 inches.
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