TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas - A Travis County jury will decide the fate of six dogs ordered to be put down after a brutal attack that killed a woman in 2016.
A trial to appeal that order began Monday afternoon at the Travis County courthouse.
Process server Erin McCleskey attempted to serve a citation to a homeowner in Northeast Travis County in June of 2016, but, before she left the property, she was mauled to death by a group of dogs on the property.
There is no question in anyone's mind that McCleskey died because she was attacked by dogs at a home on Fay Street in Manor. What is being debated in court is whether all six dogs on the property should be euthanized.
The dogs were taken after McCleskey's body was found in the yard. One week later, Justice of the Peace Herb Evans ordered the dogs to be put down.
Attorney Eric Torberson, who is representing the dog's owner, appealed that decision.
Monday, Torberson told the jury that putting down all six dogs is wrong because it is unclear which dogs actually participated in the attack. He also argued one of the dogs recently had puppies and was likely being protective of her young, spurring a violent response.
The mother dog since died while undergoing a procedure.
The State said the four Labrador-Pyrenees mixes and two Husky-Australian Cattle Dog mixes attacked as a pack, puncturing McCleskey's skin more than 455 times.
During the hearing, officers with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office testified that while processing the scene, they noticed aggressive behavior in at least three of the dogs.
An animal control officer said the canines had very little human interaction and it is likely they all played at least a minor role in the attack against McCleskey.
The night she died, McCleskey entered the property to serve a citation. She walked through a gate, past a no trespassing sign to do so. That’s another reason the defense said the dogs were being protective.
The trial will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.