As Jennifer Tart and neighbors watched as police tried to stop a group of pit bulls from mauling a toddler, she said urged them to act.
“Just shoot the dog,” Tart recalled in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer. “There’s a baby in there.”
Three pit bulls attacked the 2-year-old inside a home in Philadelphia, just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, police told NBC Philadelphia. The boy later died from his injuries.
Jason Rash, a neighbor, told Fox29 a woman inside the house “kept telling me come get the baby.”
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Police say the boy was in the care of his 23-year-old aunt, who suffered injuries of her own trying to rescue him. Rash also tried to rescue the young boy, he told 6ABC, but it was impossible to safely reach him.
“All of a sudden I see the dogs bucking at the baby and the aunt and all of a sudden they kept telling me to go in and get the baby,” he told 6ABC. “But you can’t because they’re surrounded by all these dogs.”
Rash told NBC Philadelphia that “the dogs had blood all over them” after attacking the boy.
“When police arrived on location,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small told NBC Philadelphia, “they could see through the front door that a small child was laying on the living room floor being attacked.”
Other pit bulls remained caged in the house during the attack, NBC Philadelphia reported. Local media have reported that either two or three other dogs were present during the attack.
Tart said she had called out for the police to open fire because they waited several minutes in the doorway of the house, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Small said he didn’t know anything about the officers hesitating.
Rash, however, said the responding police officers gave an explanation for their alleged hesitancy.
“The cops took forever to shoot the dogs to put the dogs down,” he told Fox29. “They were like, ‘We don’t want to shoot the baby in case the baby’s alive.’”
The child, who was “completely bleeding from the head, face body, both arms, and legs,” was rushed to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and later died as a result of his injuries, Small told 6ABC. His aunt was injured and expected to survive.
Now residents of the area are left wondering how something like this could have happened. Tom Ems told 6ABC that it’s a “shame.”
“Why would they keep dogs like that in the house?” he asked. “I don’t understand, you can’t control your dog, why would you keep it with kids?”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said in an interview with NBC Philadelphia that the dogs, which were all owned by the people in the house, didn’t appear to be trained for fighting.
It’s unknown if anyone will face charges stemming from the incident, CBS reported from police.