JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 60-year old man was found dead near an Eastside backyard Friday afternoon after he was attacked by dogs, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
Police were called about 4:30 p.m. to investigate after a man was found dead along the fence line of a home on Jessie Street.
Information gathered by investigators indicated that the man had been attacked by an animal, said JSO Sgt. Chuck Ford.
Ford said it is unclear what the victim was doing prior to the attack, but he was on the property along the Franklin Street apartments, which face the back of the home on Jessie Street.
Investigators said they discovered a hole in the property's chain-link fence that they believe the dogs could have gotten through.
In a tweet Saturday morning, the Sheriff’s Office announced that it appears the man was attacked by four dogs.
All four mixed-breed dogs were taken to Animal Care and Protection Services to be evaluated. It is unknown how many of the dogs attacked the victim, Ford said.
"The dogs were taken. They were secured," Ford said. "It'll be much easier to do there than at the scene."
The owner of the dogs, Lephus Felton, told News4Jax that the dogs are trained to protect his home.
"My dogs don't mess with nobody. My dogs are trained to protect this yard. I have signs and all that, 'Beware of Dogs' signs all over. You know? There's no way in the world my dog is vicious," Felton said.
Felton said he's upset about what happened to the man. Still, he was defiant that his dogs would not attack without being provoked.
"He had to be antagonizing my dogs to be pulled under there because, even the police say, because he got pulled underneath. So he had to stick his hands under there, so that's when they grabbed him, I guess," Felton said. "My dogs ain't no vicious dogs. They're vicious to protect this yard. That's their job. It's like the police have dogs to protect them, you know? That's how they're trained."
A vigil will be held for the victim in front of the Franklin Arms Apartments on Friday at 8 p.m.
The victim's name has not yet been released. The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate.