Mother of 4-year-old girl who died after dog attack speaks out

Tiara Freeman, the mother of the 4-year-old girl who died following a dog attack over the weekend, says she was taking steps to get her life back on track after being homeless.

The 23-year-old Dallas resident found housing in a southeast Oak Cliff neighborhood earlier in March. Last month she found a job 10 minutes away, she said The Dallas Morning News in an interview on Monday.

Last Saturday morning, Freeman left her residence with one of the people she lived with to go buy beer. A woman, who also lived in the home, located in the 5600 block of Bluffman Drive, was supposed to watch two of her daughters, Freeman said. Her youngest daughter, 9 months old, was living with her father that day, she said.

When Freeman returned home, she said she was shocked to learn that her 4-year-old daughter, Lea, had been involved in a fatal dog attack.

Officers were called to the house just before 8am about an animal attack. Police said “a dog” bit the girl multiple times. She was taken to hospital, where she later died, police said.

Freeman said the woman she was living with, whom she identified as “Simone,” didn’t tell her her daughter was attacked until after Freeman returned from the store.

“I don’t get a call when I’m at the store, I don’t get a call from her letting me know my child is dead,” Freeman said.

Freeman said she picked up Lea’s body and brought her outside. She asked a neighbor across the street, Michael Pennington, to call 911. She also got her one-year-old daughter, who was not injured in the incident, out of home, Freeman said.

Pennington said on Sunday The Dallas Morning News that the woman Freeman was staying with was outside when the attack happened and that the two children were alone with the dogs.

Four-year-old Lea Freeman died from a dog attack in southeast Oak Cliff on Saturday morning.(Photo courtesy of Tiara Freeman)

He and others who know the neighborhood said the dogs escaped several times and showed aggressive behavior towards people. Pennington’s sister, Lorie Pennington, said she called the city’s animal services in May about the dogs escaping from the house. Dallas Animal Services on Monday declined to answer questions related to the number of calls received from neighbors regarding dogs.

On Monday, Dallas Animal Services spokesperson Marlo Clingman said three dogs were recovered from the property.

Dallas police previously said a dog was recovered by the city’s animal service, but have since confirmed that multiple dogs have been arrested. Freeman said she believes the three dogs in the house, which she described as pit bulls, attacked Lea.

Authorities did not specify the breed of the dogs, and Dallas police declined to answer questions about the number of dogs involved in the attack, citing the ongoing investigation. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident, said Michael Dennis, a Dallas police spokesman.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the identity of the 4-year-old victim on Monday. The cause of death has not been determined, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Freeman said she no longer stayed in the home where the attack happened and felt “blessed” to get help from others in the neighborhood, including the Penningtons. Her one-year-old daughter, who was in the house during the attack, is currently being cared for by her grandmother.

Tiffani Butler, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, confirmed that Freeman’s one-year-old daughter is with a family member.

“In cases like this, we sometimes ask a family member to step in and oversee contact with the parent,” Butler said.

Lea was a happy kid who loved gymnastics, Freeman said. She said she believed her daughter would be alive if an adult had been inside the house.

On a GoFundMe page which was started by Freeman’s family to help with funeral expenses, Lea was described as a “shining star who loved baking cookies, playing with her sisters and would give a first-class fashion show” with an infectious laugh.

She would often sing the words “My name is Lea Bea, nice to meet you,” according to the GoFundMe page.

“I’m devastated,” Freeman said.

Writer Nataly Keomoungkhoun contributed to this report.

No adults inside home with 4-year-old in fatal dog attack, neighbor says

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