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Suburban firefighter mauled to death by mastiff had just taken in the dog

Bristol Kendall Firefighter Dawn Brown passed away Monday Big
Rock while off-duty.

Bristol Kendall Firefighter Dawn Brown passed away on Monday in Big Rock while off-duty.

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:53AM

A far west suburban firefighter was mauled to death in her home by a 130- to 140-pound dog she and her husband had just taken in to avoid it being put down, authorities said.

Dawn Brown, a firefighter with the Bristol-Kendall Fire Department and a paramedic with the Big Rock Fire District, was found dead at the bottom of the basement stairs in her Big Rock home Monday afternoon.

The Kane County sheriff’s department revealed Tuesday that Brown hadn’t fallen. Her mastiff — one of three dogs in the home — killed her.

After authorities arrived, it took four officers to get the mastiff under control to remove it from the house, Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler said.

The dog was “all muscle, very intimidating” but had no history of being aggressive, he said.

Brown and her husband, Bob, took the dog in a week ago, said Dawn Brown’s co-worker, Lt. David Denison of the Big Rock Fire District

“Dawn is — or was — very mother-like. She was just always taking care of everybody. That’s just the way she was. Rather than seeing this dog get put down, she took it on from another family member this week,” Denison said.

“They were just trying to introduce the new dog into the fold.”

Police said the Browns also had a boxer and a pit bull mixed breed. But the wounds she suffered were caused by the mastiff, police said.

Kane County Animal Control has taken custody of all three dogs. A decision on the fate of the dogs hasn’t been made, although Gengler noted about the two dogs that didn’t attack: “a lot of it will fall back on her husband to see what he wants.”

“The other two they’ve had longer,” Gengler said. “The other two were like their children.”

Gengler said it is clear that only the mastiff attacked Brown. Bite marks were visible on the body, he said.

“There’s a huge difference in the size of these dogs, a humongous difference,” Gengler said.

Gengler said Brown’s colleagues were on the first on the scene, and it’s an “extremely difficult, extremely trying time” for the two departments.

Brown’s husband is also a part-time firefighter with the Big Rock department. The couple had no children.

“Bob is with family and friends, he’s taking it very hard,” Denison said.

Big Rock Fire Chief John Ruh said Brown brought the dog into the fire station last Friday, three days before the attack.

“I came into the station and Dawn had the dog with her at her desk,” Ruh recalled. “I didn’t like having a dog in the station, but I knew Dawn was trying to socialize it, so I didn’t say anything about it. Maybe I should have.”

Rich Dunlap, a Big Rock firefighter and EMT who also worked with Brown in the Chicago Fire Department years ago, called her “one of the most caring, selfless people around.”

“She was always happy to help people out. This is truly a tragic loss for our community.”

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