Five dogs who attacked a killed a woman have been ordered to be euthanized

Image 1 of 2

A Travis County jury has decided the fate of five dogs who brutally attacked and killed a woman in 2016. 

Tuesday, the jury deliberated and came to the decision that all six dogs did indeed contribute to the death of Erin Mccleskey and have been ordered to be euthanized.   With the exception of the sixth dog who died a few months back. 

The owner of the dogs will have 30 days to decide if he will appeal the verdict before county can in fact put the dogs down. 

Earlier Tuesday,  the owner of the dogs and an expert on dog attacks gave emotional and conflicting testimony in court. 

The owner of the dogs, Terry Swanson testified Tuesday that he believes only one dog attacked and killed Erin Mcccleskey last year. Swanson and his attorney, Tuesday, suggested to the jury that a lab mix was responsible because she was protecting her litter of puppies. That dog interestingly enough died a few months ago. To address the single dog theory, prosecutors brought in James Crosby, an expert in dog attacks.

“I find the maternal instinct to have been very unlikely because the puppies are older they were in the round pen.  There’s no evidence that Ms. McCleskey was in the puppy pen or interacting with the puppies at all,” said Crosby 

There were six dogs on the property when Mccleskey went to the house on Fay Road to serve legal papers. Travis County deputy medical examiner Kendall Crowns testified that he found 455 puncture wounds on Mccleskey's body he told the jury that typically an attack by one dog will leave about 150 marks. Both Crowns and Crosby concluded that its highly unlikely Mccleskey was chased down and mauled by only one dog.

“My opinion based on the evidence is that all of the dog’s present participated to one level or another in the bites and the attack to Ms. McCleskey that led to her death,” said Crosby.

Since the attack in Manor, the dogs have been locked away at the animal shelter. Legal maneuvering has prevented authorities from putting them all down. Ending their lives, according to Crosby is the reasonable decision. Even if there is no way for the jury to know if one or more dogs did not take part in the attack.

“We can’t be sure that those dogs will or will not severely injure another person and I’m not willing to take the chance,” said Crosby. 

A vet from the shelter, Dr. Rachael Hays, testified that since the animals arrived at the facility none of the dogs have shown aggression.

The jury started deliberations shortly before 4:00 p.m.