Two American Bulldogs with a history of aggression beat a mother of three to death in their home.
The animals, DJ and Billy, tuned in to Elayne Stanley, 44, during an argument between her and her daughter Louise Smith around 4:30 p.m. on September 24, 2019.
Liverpool-born nursing assistant Stanley suffered multiple bite wounds on her upper arms, back, scalp and neck, in which one of the bites “severed all of her carotid artery,” according to an investigation in Warrington
Despite desperate attempts by the neighbors to distract the dogs with bars and throw stones at them – and even manage to get the dogs into the back garden – the joint efforts of paramedics and neighbors failed to save Ms. Stanley . Her 12-year-old twin daughters had been upstairs at the time and hadn’t witnessed the attack.
Jason Lennox, Cheshire Police Dog Legislative Officer, told today’s hearing that he had been called on-site to help with the emergency response and said firearms officers were told to put the DJ to sleep after the big dog continued despite two doses of sedation been aggressive.
He said American Bulldogs had protective instincts and may have tried to protect Louise during the argument with her mother. When Louise asked if her pregnancy could have been a factor at the time, Mr. Lennox replied “yes”, adding that dogs are more attuned to body language and hormonal changes than humans and may have discovered pregnancy.
Elayne Stanley, 44, was remembered as a “beautiful woman” after her death at home on Graham Road in Widnes in 2019.
Louise said she and her mother had a “heated discussion” and that she had previously had no concerns about the dogs – which she believed were bull mastiffs – and that she was unaware of their previous attacks.
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DJ was the first to strike when Louise left the house.
She said, “DJ bit my mother on the underside of her leg. I tried to get the other dog into the kitchen – she turned and saw what was going on and left for her too. I went to get help. “
Beverley Hall, a friend of Mrs. Stanley’s, who said they were as close as “sisters,” tried knocking on the door and windows to get the dogs’ attention.
Carl Rees, a neighbor, found another neighbor, identified as “Jason” in his testimony, who hit the floor with a brush stick to distract the dogs. In the living room he saw a dog sitting “covered in blood” and another with his head down, attacking Ms. Stanley. Mr Rees helped move the dogs to the back garden after pelting them with bricks to attract their attention.
The investigation found that the dogs had previously been violent and belonged to Ms. Stanley’s partner Paul Leigh from Runcorn but had lived with Ms. Stanley for over a year.
Cheshire Canine Police Officer Mr. Lennox provided the coroner with details of the dogs’ history.
He identified them as American Bulldogs, with DJ possibly being crossed with a Dogue de Bordeaux, which, while legal, were breeds that required “knowledge” and “firm” command to care for them.
He said the dogs attacked a dog on March 2, 2016 when they stormed out of Mr. Leigh’s house in Caesars Close, Runcorn at that time, leaving the dog with injuries so severe that it had to be knocked down. Mr. Leigh was convicted of two cases of a dog dangerously out of control and was subject to a dog control ordinance that required mouths and leashes or harnesses in public and registered microchips.
The dogs again attacked another dog and bit the owner’s leg on May 17, 2016 while Mr Leigh was living in Winsford, but no complaint followed. Despite being requested to do so, Mr. Leigh did not participate in the investigation.
Peter Sigee, assistant to the coroner in Cheshire, instead read sections from Mr Leigh’s police interview in late 2019, in which he claimed the dogs belonged to other family members who had to give them up due to work and domestic circumstances, and that DJ was microchipped provided in the name of his father.
Ms. Stanley’s close friend Beverley Hall said female Billy was “dumb as a paintbrush” – “a beautiful dog” and moved to Ms. Stanley’s house three or four years earlier, but DJ, the man, was “scary”.
In summary, Mr. Sigee said: “She was afraid of DJ.
“He was a huge dog, his head was huge and the way he looked at you it looked like he wanted to eat you.”
She found him so intimidating that she stayed out of the house and “knocked on the door and ran to the end of the street” when she had to talk to Ms. Stanley until she was finally persuaded to sit with him and “DJ appeared to be well educated ”.
Another neighbor, Yvonne Wood, often heard barking, and the dogs “ran around the house and yard” as the door was often left open. She said one of the dogs would run to the fence and start “jumping on it” and sounded “terrible and angry”. Mrs. Wood and her husband were concerned about their grandchildren visiting and feared the dogs would start breeding.
She said the dogs would go “ballistic” and “crazy” if they went into their own yard, adding that she heard people “scream” as they walked past the dogs barking.
Carl Rees was unaware of the problems with the dogs and had not seen them for several months.
The investigation heard other evidence from police, paramedics, and a veterinarian.
Detective Inspector Alison White, then a detective sergeant at Widnes CID, said there were no suspicious circumstances such as third-party human intent. She observed blood in the house and nibbles and bacon being thrown on the floor where neighbors tried to distract the dogs.
Efforts to save Ms. Stanley included neighbors, an ambulance, a quick response and an ambulance based in Croxteth.
Mr Sigee concluded, according to the cause of death, post mortem, that Elayne Stanley, 44, a foster assistant born in Liverpool in 1975, died of multiple dog bite wounds at her home address on Graham Road on September 24, 2019.
He gave a narrative conclusion to add the cause of death.
He said: “Miss Stanley’s death was caused by multiple dog bite wounds inflicted on her by two dogs named DJ and Billy who have lived in her home for more than 12 months.
“DJ and Billy were big and powerful American bulldogs with strong protective instincts. DJ and Billy had previously heard from Miss Stanley’s partner. DJ and Billy had previously attacked a dog under their partner’s control on March 16, 2019. The other dog suffered serious injuries and had to be euthanized. “
Regarding the events of September 24, 2019, he said: “There was a heated discussion between Miss Stanley and her daughter. When the daughter turned to leave, DJ bit Miss Stanley and Billy with her. The daughter could not pull the dogs away from Miss Stanley. The neighbors came to help and were able to pull Miss Stanley’s dogs away and secure them in the back yard. “
Mr. Sigee expressed his condolences to Ms. Stanley’s family and friends.