A 7-year-old boy from Oklahoma was mutilated to death by a family dog last week, local officials said.
The boy, identified by KOCO and his family as James McNeelis, was reported missing on Oct. 20 at around 7.20 p.m. from his home south of Kiefer, less than 15 miles south of Tulsa, the Creek County Sheriff’s Office said. in a press release. When authorities arrived at the scene, McNeelis’ family member located him on the property.
“The child was declared dead around 7:35 pm. The preliminary investigation indicates that the child was attacked by a pet (a dog),” the statement said.
Officers said the child’s death was being investigated alongside the state medical examiner. The Creek County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
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McNeelis’ family told 2 News Oklahoma that the boy’s father found the boy in the yard where he was playing with the dog, who they say is a sheltie-corgi mix.
They added that the family greeted the dog like a stray dog and had never been aggressive in the three weeks they had had the dog before the attack. Authorities said the dog was being held at an animal control facility.
Neighbor Shannon Edison told KOTV her family were celebrating a birthday on their porch and when they heard a commotion happening nearby they knew “something was wrong”.
“As a mother you know that scream, if anyone has heard that scream before, you know that scream,” Edison said. “It was heartbreaking. No family should have to go through something like this.”
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Michael McNeelis, the boy’s father, spoke about his son.
“He was so full of life and light and he was going to change the world,” he wrote. “His light will change the world. We feel lonely and lost without him and we do all we can but it’s just hard. Everything hurts without my little boy here.”
In 2020, 46 people were killed by dogs in the United States, including 15 children aged 9 and under, according to Dogs Bite. The Pittsburg Children’s Hospital says there are approximately 800,000 dog bites each year that require medical attention, and more than 50% of dog bite victims are children.
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