DIGHTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Police are investigating why a 14-year-old was mauled by dogs he had been taking care of for the past year or so.
The boy has been identified as Ryan Hazel of Rehoboth.
In a news conference Friday, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said Hazel’s grandmother dropped him off at the Maple Swamp Road property around 6 p.m. Thursday to take care of the dogs and other animals there, which he did on a regular basis.
The property is a large tract of land with several buildings. Hazel’s grandmother remained in the car, according to Quinn, and became concerned when her grandson didn’t return after an hour. Quinn said the tasks typically took Hazel 30-40 minutes to complete.
The grandmother called Hazel’s parents, who were in New York at the time. The couple immediately called a neighbor, Quinn said, who went onto the property and found Hazel suffering from significant injuries, as well as four dogs on the loose.
The neighbor called 911 and attempted to perform CPR on Hazel but his injuries were too severe, and he was pronounced dead at the scene by first responders, according to Quinn.
It’s unclear at this time why Hazel was attacked. Quinn said the breeds of the four dogs are Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois.
The homeowner, Scott Dunmore, 49, returned home after being contacted by police. Quinn said he’s cooperating with the investigation.
While the investigation is still active, no foul play is suspected at this time.
“This was clearly a terrible tragedy for the victim, his family, and his friends, and the town,” Quinn said. “My heart goes out to all of them.”
Quinn said as far as he knows, the dogs aren’t licensed and Dunmore owns the majority of them and was watching the others.
Dighton Police Chief Robert MacDonald said there haven’t been any calls to the property in the past but he noted that there was a house fire there a couple of months ago.
All 11 dogs have been removed from the property and are now under quarantine.
Hazel was a student of the Community Health program at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, according to Superintendent Alexandre Magalhaes. She said grief counselors will be on hand for anyone in need of assistance.
“Any student who may need or want help or who is scared, confused or struggling to process this tragedy should know that that help is available,” Magalhaes said in a statement. “We are saddened by this loss in our school community, and as we come together, our leadership team will make every effort to provide assistance to our students, families and fellow employees as needed.”
Anyone seeking assistance is asked to call Pupil Services Administrator Melanie Shaw at (508) 823-5151 ext. 115.
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