An autopsy found that Brown died from dog bites to her neck from a 140-pound mastiff, police Lt. Pat Gengler said.
Brown and her husband, both part-time volunteer firefighters with the Big Rock Fire Protection District, took in the mastiff about a week ago from a family member, Gengler said. The couple's two other dogs, a boxer and a pit bull mix, were not involved in the attack, which police believe occurred sometime Monday morning because Brown didn't answer phone calls from her husband, he said.
Four animal control handlers were needed to contain the mastiff, Gengler said.
Police still are trying to determine what prompted the attack and whether the dog showed previous violent behavior. All three dogs remained in the custody of Kane County Animal Control, where they will undergo evaluations to help determine if and when they'll return home, he said.
Brown also worked full time as a firefighter paramedic with the Bristol Kendall Fire Protection District in Yorkville. Acquaintances describe the couple as animal lovers who treated their dogs as if they were their children.
"We're really having a hard time getting our heads around this," said Bristol Kendall Chief Michael Hitzemann, who added that the mastiff was having trouble getting along with one of the other dogs. "I'm not sure we're ever going to find out."
Fatal dog attacks are rare, especially against adults, a veterinarian said.
John Ciribassi, a veterinary behaviorist at Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants, said while dog bites are common, they rarely are so severe that they result in death.
Often fatal cases involve the dog feeling territorial, or more rarely, the dog developing a predatory instinct, Ciribassi said.
And aggression can span all breeds, he said. "It's really more of an issue of the individual animal."
Firefighters in both of the departments where Brown worked continued to grieve Wednesday.
"To pronounce one of your own dead is probably one of the hardest things we have to do," said Capt. Debra Raymond of the Big Rock Fire Protection District, which responded to the scene. "We're like extended family."
Raymond and Hitzemann described Brown as a nurturing woman with a flair for cooking and baking.
"She was just a great friend at the station," Hitzemann said.
Written by Chicago Tribune