A 7-year-old boy from Oklahoma was mauled to death by a family dog last week, local authorities say.
The boy, identified by KOCO and family as James McNeelis, was reported missing on Oct. 20 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 statement. When authorities arrived on the scene, a family member of McNeelis located him on the property.
“The child was pronounced deceased at approximately 7:35 pm. The preliminary investigation indicates the child was attacked by a family pet (dog),” the statement read.
Officers said the child’s death is being investigated alongside the state’s medical examiner. The Creek County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request to comment.
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McNeelis’ family told 2 News Oklahoma the boy’s father had found the boy in the yard where he was playing with the dog, which they said is a sheltie-corgi mix.
They added the family took the dog in as a stray and had never been aggressive in the three weeks they had the dog before the attack. Authorities said the dog is being held at an animal control facility.
Neighbor Shannon Edison told KOTV her family was 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 anybody has ever heard that scream, you know that scream,” Edison said. “It was gut-wrenching. No family should ever have to go through something like that.”
In a Facebook post from 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 alone and lost without him and we’re doing all we can but it’s just hard. Everything just hurts without my little boy here.”
In 2020, 46 people were killed by dogs in the United States, 15 of whom were children 9 or under, according to Dogs Bite. The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg 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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