A 14-year-old boy was found dead in Dighton on Thursday night in what authorities say was a fatal dog mauling.
Officials identified the teen as Ryan Hazel, of Rehoboth, during a press conference Friday afternoon.
“Things like that should never happen to anybody, never mind a 14-year-old boy,” Dighton Police Chief Robert MacDonald told reporters.
Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said Ryan was driven to 2577 Maple Swamp Road on Thursday night by his grandmother to take care of “several animals” on the property while the owner, identified as 49-year-old Scott Dunmore, was in Boston.
“The young man had been watching the dogs and other animals on the property,” Quinn said.
The 14-year-old had been helping out the owner on the property on a regular basis for about a year, he said.
Ryan’s grandmother waited in the car while the teen went to tend to the animals. She told police that the 14-year-old usually completed his tasks at the property in 30 to 45 minutes, so when he didn’t come back to the car after “more than an hour,” she became concerned, Quinn said.
She first called Ryan’s parents, who were out of state in New York at the time, and they contacted a neighbor to ask him to check on the teen.
Quinn said the neighbor found Ryan in the backyard of the property “suffering from traumatic injuries” and four dogs loose in the area. The neighbor put the dogs, described as Belgian Malinoises and Dutch Shepherds, in the basement, called 911 at 7:59 p.m., and performed CPR on the teen.
Ryan was pronounced dead at the scene by first responders.
“They were very traumatic,” Quinn said of the injuries the boy sustained.
The DA said that in addition to the four dogs found outside at the time of the incident, there were seven other dogs that were contained in cages on the property. All of the dogs have been removed from the property, and the four animals found outside will be in quarantine for 10 days at which time it will be up to the town to determine if they will be put down, he said.
“It does not appear that any foul play is suspected at this time,” Quinn said, calling the incident a “terrible tragedy.”
Dunmore is cooperating with investigators, and Quinn would not say whether or not the property owner could face charges in connection with the incident. The DA said Dunmore owned the majority of the dogs on the property, but said the 49-year-old was “watching several others.”
Quinn said investigators were still working to determine exactly what happened.
“Obviously something went very wrong,” he said.
MacDonald said that the department had received no prior calls or complaints about the property or the dogs.
“It’s a very, very sad thing,” he said, offering his condolences to Ryan’s family.
Officials at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School said in a statement that the 14-year-old was a student in the school’s community health program.
Superintendent Alexandre Magalhaes said grief counselors were available to help students.
“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,” he said in 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.”