Constables on how to avoid dog attacks after woman’s death

Travis County Constable Sgt. Denise Lozano serves papers at a home in Southwest Travis County. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
Travis County Constable Sgt. Denise Lozano serves papers at a home in Southwest Travis County. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Erin McCleskey went on to a property on Fay Street Wednesday evening, when Travis County Sheriff’s deputies say she died after being attacked by several dogs.

It’s the same neighborhood where Sgt. Denise Lozano, a Travis County constable, served papers a few weeks ago. “There was a dog in the fence so I went ahead and stopped.”

Sgt. Lozano says instead of going up to the front door, she honked her horn and the homeowner met her outside. Lozano doesn’t mess with dogs she doesn’t know.

“I’ve gone into an area where there was a fenced in area, I didn’t know there was a dog in there,” explains Sgt. Lozano. “And he came out and bit me and I required stitches from that.”

Erin McCleskey, who was mauled to death by dogs in northeast Travis County on June 15, 2016 (McCleskey Family Photo)
Erin McCleskey, who was mauled to death by dogs in northeast Travis County on June 15, 2016 (McCleskey Family Photo)

Lozano received another surprise Friday when she served a home in southwest Travis County. When she knocked on the door and the owner answered, a small barking dog came running out and jumped up on her.

“It’s still a little scary even if they’re small because they can bite,” explains Lozano.

Travis County constables now go through canine encounter training. About 35 percent of their staff are trained and they hope to have 80 percent trained by August. Bobby Gutierrez, Chief Deputy Constable for Travis County Precinct 5, says constables get anywhere from four to eight hours of training in canine encounter.

“[We’re] able to read their body language and their behavior to know when it’s appropriate to approach them and when you need to back off,” says Gutierrez.

Dogs aren’t the only thing that stop constables from serving. Constables won’t go on to a property if there’s a locked gate, unless it’s for something more serious like an arrest.

“We do not have the authority to cross the barrier of that property,” explains Gutierrez.

The gate deputies say Erin McCleskey went through is locked and has a “No Trespassing” sign.

KXAN reached out to EZ Messenger, the company Erin was working for when she was attacked. We wanted to find out their policy on going past a No Trespassing sign, but we still have not heard back.

Animal control has the six adult dogs involved in the attack in quarantine. A judge could decide next week whether to euthanize them.

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