Woman who rescued animals killed by dog

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This story originally appeared on CBS Atlanta.

(CBS) DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Friends and family are mourning the loss of Rebecca Carey, a local animal lover and rescuer who lost her life to at least one of the dogs she cared for herself.

CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports the 23-year-old woman was found dead at home after she failed to show up for work this past Sunday. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she had dedicated her professional life to caring for animals, and was employed by Alpharetta's Loving Hands Animal Clinic.

Though initially thought to be a homicide, an investigation into matters showed that Carey was killed by dog bites she sustained, the station learned.

"Since the second grade when she read the book 'Throw Away Pets,' she vowed to be a voice for all animals," her parents, Greg and Ellen Carey, said in a statement released to the paper. "Upon placing her first abandoned animal in a permanent loving home in 2003, she volunteered countless hours with rescue networks and animal shelters. There she did what she loved the most: rescuing animals from untenable situations to find them safe, loving homes."

The five dogs were euthanized, DeKalb County police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said.

Carey's dogs were reported to be two American Staffordshire terriers, two Presa Canarios, and a pit bull-boxer mix.

Jackie Cira, a friend of Carey, felt the dogs were prematurely put to sleep, and felt it was possible for authorities to figure out which of the dogs attacked the animal lover.

"We're talking about three very different breeds weighing around 80 pounds, 55 pounds and 15 pounds," she told the Journal-Constitution.