SPRING HILL, Fla. - A vicious dog mauling in Hernando County that left a woman in critical condition could have been prevented, neighbors told FOX 13 Friday.
Debra Beaulieu, 64, was attacked by a pack of dogs belonging to a neighbor last week. Loved ones said she's undergone multiple surgeries and is struggling to survive.
The Hernando County Housing Authority owns the Mayflower Street home in Spring Hill where the dog owners live and confirmed the animals should not have been there.
"The home is owned by the Hernando County Housing Authority and the lease agreement does not allow any pets in a home without written authorization from the Housing Authority," Donald Singer, the agency's executive director, wrote in a statement. "No pets were authorized to be in the home and the Housing Authority had no knowledge of pets being in the home. The Housing Authority has and will take appropriate actions to enforce its lease agreements."
The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said they received one complaint about the animals, but didn't know they shouldn't have been there.
The information from the housing authority was infuriating to Beaulieu's neighbors.
"If that situation at been discovered and dealt with, this never would have happened," said Steven Polk, who lives across the street from the dog owners' home. "I think everyone in this neighborhood feared that something like this could happen."
"That's a county-run agency coming out to a county-owned home that's not supposed to have animals at all. So I feel that if there was more of a connection of the dots, this could have been prevented," said Kathy Gillespie, who lives next door to the dogs' owners.
Kathy Gillespie says this photo from December shows her young son encountering the dogs in last week's attack.
Gillespie said the situation hit even closer to home because the dogs had come in contact with her 3-year-old son multiple times; she has a photo on her phone from December that she said shows her son telling two of the dogs involved in last week’s attack to go home.
"When I look at that photo, I start shaking. It's literally chilling that that could have been my child," Gillespie said. "It just seems like this tragedy could have been prevented a couple of different times."
Singer did not respond Friday to questions from FOX 13 about whether the agency does routine checks on families in public housing to make sure they're following the rules.
Family members say Debra Beaulieu was critically injured in the dog attack.
Three dog owners, who all live in the same home, surrendered four dogs. They're facing civil citations for animal bites and having unrestrained, unvaccinated, and unlicensed dogs.
A woman who answered the door Friday at the home of the dog owners declined to comment.