TALLASSEE, Ala. — A 4-year-old Alabama girl was killed Wednesday in an apparent dog mauling, police say.
The child had been playing in her yard, Tallassee Police Chief Jimmy Rodgers said. The girl's grandparents were babysitting her at the time.
"Her grandfather went out to check on her and spotted a large dog standing over her," Rodgers said. "He said it appeared to him that the dog was trying to drag her off."
The grandfather yelled at the dog and it ran off. He then called 911.
There may have been other dogs involved in the attack, Rodgers said.
The child was pronounced dead at the scene, Rodgers said. She had wounds on her body resembling bites and scratch marks.
An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of the girl's death, Tallapoosa County District Attorney E. Paul Jones said.
Police have the dog they believe was involved in the attack, a large shepherd mix, and another dog, a Labrador retriever mix, that might have been involved, at a local veterinarian's office, Rodgers said. The dogs are owned by people in the neighborhood, he added.
Police are seeking court orders to have both animals destroyed, he said. "We are investigating to see if any criminal charges can be filed."
The attack occurred in Tallapoosa County. The city of Tallassee has a law forbidding owners from letting their dogs run at large, but no such law exists in the county, Rodgers said.
The case hit investigators and officers hard, he said.
"I've been here 17 years, and this is the first time we have had a child killed in a dog mauling," Rodgers said.
The attack occurred at a small home with a partially fenced yard. Bicycles and children's toys were scattered about the yard Thursday.
No one answered the door of the home when a Montgomery Advertiser reporter knocked.
Tallassee resident Steve Bridgman said he graduated from high school with the child's grandfather and stopped by the home about noon Thursday, hoping to speak to his old classmate.
"When I heard about this, it was just terrible. A little child killed by a dog," he said. "Then I found out whose house it was, and whose granddaughter it was. Man, it really hit home then. I've known the man all my life."
Roney also reports for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser