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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Sheriff: Firefighter Found Dead Inside Her Kane County Home

Jerry November 18, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Perfectly said
PitLover November 18, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Ya let the family grieve. I haven't seen one press release or additional comments that have been even close to being spot on. Get a life and move on Morron's. Let the family grieve.
Jack Smith November 18, 2012 at 11:25 PM
All of these comments are sickening. Clearly the media and press have every detail WRONG about the story. She was not mauled she was bitten once. The mastiff was not given away because of a new baby in the home and the mastiff would not have been put to sleep if they had not opted to take him in. The mastiff also WAS NOT the aggressive one, the boxer was. The boxer did not get along with the mastiff (when the boxer attacked the mastiff ran the other direction) and Dawn was willing to get rid of the boxer had he not decided to get along with the mastiff because she LOVED that dog. HE WAS NOT A RESCUE! The mastiff was great around other dogs, children and adored people. He was simply the victim just because he was the BIGGER dog NOT because they had substantial proof. Let our family grieve and move on, the only thing correct about this story is how loving Dawn was and the fact that she is no longer with us.
Dan S November 22, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Susan, you are an ignorant human being. You clearly have NEVER owned a member of the breeds you are bashing or you would clearly know that everything you are saying is a generalized lie. I am a proud owner of two great pitbulls. The only thing, my dear, that you are in danger of is getting LICKED to death. Take your foolishness elsewhere. You are the empitome of ignorance.
Ray February 25, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Okay. Susan get your facts straight! The dogs who killed the woman in California were Presa Canarios. Im not saying they are bad dogs but they tend to have a more aggressive temperment. Great guard/protective dog for singles, couples without children. You need to show your dominance with these dogs and display YOU ARE THE LEADER OF THE PACK! For the attack on this poor lady. It must be taken into account that mastiffs are a loyal, gentle breed. Despite that, a full grown mastiff was moved into her home. A mastiff is definitely weary of strangers. When I mean strangers (someone they do not live with for long period of time). This dog does not need any training to be a guard dog as many people that come in contact with them will not get close unless the handler/owner says its okay. The woman was most likely seen as a stranger and or not viewed by the dog as leader of the pack. Therefor there was an attack. Its not uncommon for this to happen when large ADULT dogs are moved into new homes. This would mo. Would have never happend if it was a puppy and grown with her. On the othrr hand, there are breeds that have been raised since birth and still attacked when older but very unlikely with the English Mastiff!


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