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Animal Attack Files Special ReportSpecial Report forwarded by AAF Correspondent: Daniel BerryAnimal Attack Files Special Report


Animal Attack

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    Census Worker Dead
Pack of Dogs Found Feeding on 71-Year-Old Woman’s Body

Monday, June 12, 2000

The Associated Press N A S H V I L L E, Ind.— A U.S. Census worker was being devoured by a pack of dogs when authorities discovered her body in the front yard of a rural southern Indiana home. Dorothy Stewart, 71, of Nashville, was covered with several bite marks on her arms and legs when Brown County sheriff’s deputies found her about 2 p.m. Saturday. Her torso was undamaged, Sheriff Dan Huesman said Sunday.

Cause of Death Unknown Investigators were unsure whether the bites occurred before or after her death. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday morning at Indiana University Medical Center in Bloomington. “The hope is the autopsy will point to what the cause of death was,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Mike Yordy said. “We don’t know at this time whether it was caused by a fall, natural causes or from canine activity. “But there was significant carnivorous activity.” Papers were found around the body, and authorities assume the woman was working at the time of her death. “This is an unusual event,” said Stewart’s boss, Michael Sprague. “It certainly hasn’t occurred in my operation.” Census employees are required to walk up to the houses of strangers to collect data. During training, they are told not to put themselves in danger. “It can be a little scary, I’m sure,” said Sprague, field operations supervisor of Bartholomew, Brown and Jackson counties. Police said Stewart parked her car on the edge of the road and walked up the driveway to the home. Her body was found about three feet from the front steps as the dogs circled her.

‘Packs of Dogs Have Been a Problem’ The homeowner, Joann Lativatis, called police just after 2 p.m. when she arrived home and discovered Stewart’s body and the dogs in her yard, said Yordy, with the State Police. Lativatis has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment Sunday. Eight dogs were found inside the house and at least 15 outside, Indianapolis television station WRTV reported. Some were tied up, others were loose and some were out in nearby woods. Officials say packs of dogs have been a problem in the area. Police rounded up more than 20 dogs from the home Sunday. Deputies used mace to subdue some of the dogs and two were killed at the scene. It is not clear who owns all the dogs or whether charges will be filed. The state of Indiana and Brown County have leash laws that require animals to be under the control of their owner. Chad Walton, an animal control officer for Monroe County who assisted police, said he does not think the dogs were rabid. He speculated they had probably been dumped in the woods or were strays that had formed a pack and continued to procreate. “I don’t know if they were wild, but they were definitely emaciated and weren’t fed well,” he said. Some of the dogs had collars and others didn’t, Walton said, and it wasn’t clear if they lived at Lativatis’ residence on a full-time basis. Lativatis has a “beware of dog” sign posted at the base of her driveway.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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