This has been a story that I've been holding for awhile as a lot of the details are missing and the actual cause of death was unclear. This story is tragic on so many levels.
Last month, the El Paso County Sheriff's department responded to calls of an elderly man found dead in an empty lot in El Paso. The man was later identified as 76 year old Howard James Paul.
While initial reports were unclear about the cause of death, the medical examiner report has finally revealed that the man bled to death after being attacked by wild, mongrel dogs.
Paul was described as a "well known" homeless man who lived in the community as many people came forward recalling having "known" Paul and describe him as a very nice man who often gave what little money he had away to others he felt needed it more. They also say that he had grown to liked living on the streets.
After weeks of trying to find the victim's family, local authorities have given up -- and one local couple who were deeply touched by Paul over the years stepped up and claimed his body because they felt he deserved more than to be abandoned in his death. The woman said she was strongly influenced by Paul as he came to her McDonalds every day when she worked there as a teenager to fill his thermos up with coffee -- and seeing him give extra money to others influenced her to late become a food stamp and medicaid worker.
For a whole host of reasons this story is touching. Homelessness is something that is far too common in this country even though, as a country, we're surrounded by wealth. Meanwhile, that it is interesting that even this man, who had no wealth, and no power, was able to touch a woman to the point of influencing her career choice -- that she now chooses to make a living helping others.
The causes of this attack are pretty obvious -- social poverty, a pack of wild dogs who were likely hungry and were not rounded up by authorities. The event is both tragic and preventable, and definitely shows us that dog attacks like this, while very rare, are very circumstancial -- and you cannot solve the dog bite problem without first dealing with the societal issues that surround them.
As this story has drawn on in El Paso, it has been picked up by only a handful of local, El Paso news outlets.