Action News Jax Investigates: Police respond to home of dogs that mauled man to death

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Dogs are believed to have killed a Jacksonville man last week.

Monday, wooden boards covered a fence that police said four dogs were able to get through to attack and kill 83-year-old Michael Downing. The best friend of the victim described Downing as active, friendly and well-educated.

"He was always had a big smile on his face," neighbor Mark Jones said.

Action News Jax investigated how many times police were previously called to the home that housed the dogs police say mauled a man to death on Friday.

Action News Jax learned that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was called out to the Eastside home more than 10 times.

Action News Jax found out the city had been previously called to the Jessie Street home about the dogs.

Previous Coverage:

A report from an anonymous call alleges animal cruelty back in April. The caller said the dogs were being kept in “small pens,” “living in filth” and that the owner “hit them with a closed fist”. When investigators arrived “there were no feces present” and “they appeared to be in good health.”

A warning was issued.

Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson said, "We are all responsible for what our animals do, our pets do."

Action News Jax spoke to Carson about the attack and if the dog's owner could potentially face charges.

“If it can be proved that the individual was outside the fence and was dragged back into the fence then the owner of the dogs is subject to a manslaughter charge, which is negligent homicide,” Carson said.

Action News Jax also got a list of Sheriff’s Office calls for service to the dogs’ home.

“You’ve got some shootings, you’ve got a domestic” on the list, Carson said.

Carson went through the call list with Action News Jax. Going back to 2011, there were 14 calls but Carson said one call stands out.

“In 2014, there was an animal investigation," Carson said. "So there was some trouble with the animals at the house and there was an investigation.”

The call log is also labeled with an “x,” something Carson said means, “The officer would inform the homeowner to stop behaving that way, stop doing that, make these corrections, and there’s no actual enforcement action taken here.”

Neighbors say they’ve complained about the four dogs and believe more should have been done to prevent Friday’s attack.

“I knew it was coming. I knew someone was going to die," Jones said.

The dogs are currently with animal control and it’s unclear at this point if the owner of the dogs will face any charges. But neighbors have made it clear, that they don’t want the dogs to ever come back to their neighborhood.

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"They lunged at me a few times, but I kind of hurried up and got away from the fence.” Neighbors say four dogs that killed their elderly neighbor were also aggressive toward them:

Posted by Action News Jax on Saturday, August 20, 2016

The dogs' owner says the only time he saw signs of aggression in his dogs is if they were teased:

Posted by Action News Jax on Saturday, August 20, 2016