Nov. 21, 2003, 11:42PM
Dog bites ruled as cause of death
By RAD SALLEE
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle
A woman whose mauled body was found Wednesday on a southeast Houston street died of dog bites, the Harris County medical examiner's office determined Friday.
At first, investigators were uncertain whether Fannie Pearl Pharms, 58, was killed by a trio of dogs found near her body, or if they attacked her after she died of some other cause.
An autopsy by Dr. Stephen Wilson determined the cause of death was "multiple sharp force injuries" sustained when Pharms was "attacked and bitten by canines," said Rudy Flores, administrator of the medical examiner's office.
Pharms' body was found in the 4800 block of Maggie near her home. The dogs, two pit bulls and a Rottweiler, were captured without incident and had no previous record of attacking anyone, said Houston health department spokeswoman Kathy Barton.
The three are held by the city Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, 2700 Evella. Barton said they belong to Lelton Stoneham of 4758 Maggie. Neither Stoneham nor relatives of Pharms could be reached for comment.
Barton said that in view of the medical examiner's ruling, city health director Dr. Mary des Vignes-Kendrick is likely to declare the dogs dangerous early next week. They would then be destroyed after a 10-day appeal period, unless the owner obtains a restraining order from a district court, Barton said.
"And we've never lost one of those," she added.
Meanwhile, the future of three pit bull dogs that ran wild and bit a pedestrian Sept. 20 in Huntington Village subdivision in southwest Houston remains unclear.
In a hearing Friday at the pound, where they have been held since the attacks, animal control officials upheld an earlier finding that the dogs are dangerous.
Several residents described the canines as a neighborhood nuisance, but their owner, Babetta Mayes, said she has moved to Arkansas and wants her pets to join her.
For this to happen, Barton said, Mayes must pay nearly $1,300 in fees for boarding and other costs, and purchase $100,000 in insurance coverage on each dog. An additional requirement of more secure fencing will be waived if the dogs are removed from the city, Barton said.
What a way to go.