Authorities say a 9-year-old boy was mauled to death by his guardian’s three pit bulls after he was left alone with the dogs inside her mobile home in Northern California.
Alexandria Griffin-Heady, 24, left her brother Tyler Griffin-Huston, who she recently adopted, home alone on Sunday while she went to work.
When she returned about three hours later and found the boy had been mauled by the dogs.
“The child was unsupervised. The dogs became aggressive. Why or what caused them to become aggressive, we don’t know,” said Lt. Brandon Barnes of Yuba County Sheriff’s Department, reported ABC10.
The child was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The three dogs, a mother and two offspring that Griffin-Heady had raised from puppyhood, had been seized and placed in an animal shelter. They will be euthanized if they are determined to be dangerous animals, Yuba County Undersheriff Jerry Read told the Sacramento Bee.
Animal Care Services reported having no history with the animals.
Read said officers were still investigating and that Griffin-Heady could face criminal charges of child endangerment.
But Roberto Marquez, a lawyer representing her, said criminal charges would be inappropriate considering the situation was unpredictable.
“If she had any hint at all that these dogs had any propensity for violence, she would never have left her brother with them,” he said. “She raised them and cannot fathom what could have happened that caused them to attack a little boy.”
“I don’t even think it rises to the level of negligence,” he added. “She had no knowledge that anything like this could occur.”
A relative living nearby confirmed that the dogs didn’t appear dangerous.
“They’ve never done anything like that. They’ve never bitten anybody,” said Stephanie Harvey.
Still, what happened was shocking.
“It’s shocking to me,” said neighbor Dwayne Daniel. “It’s just sad that it happened. It’s something you don’t expect. I know they all love their animals. I love my animals.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.