A 2-year-old child described as a “gorgeous little boy” was killed on Sunday by a dog that reportedly belonged to his cousin. The child suffered severe face and head injuries as he was mauled to death by the mastiff-cross dog at his grandmother's house in Deniliquin in New South Wales.
The attack happened on Sunday afternoon when the boy reportedly went outside to get ice cream from a refrigerator in a back room and the family pet dog followed him.
The dog, named Kingston, is reported to have belonged to Deeon’s 24-year-old cousin. There is no indication of the breed with which the mastiff is mixed.
What caused the giant mastiff to attack the small child is completely a mystery. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the toddler's grandmother heard him screaming and ran outside. She was trying desperately to pull the dog off the little boy but could not get the mastiff to release him, the police report stated.
The toddler’s mother arrived at the Victoria Street house during the attack and finally managed to fight the dog off her son, but Deeon had already suffered critical injuries and was taken to Deniliquin Hospital, where he died.
The grandmother, 70, was also hurt when she tried to intervene. Police reported she was transported with Deeon by ambulance to Deniliquin Hospital. The older woman was treated for exhaustion, bruising and abrasions.
A family spokesman told the Herald that the family was devastated by what had happened.
"We have lost a gorgeous little boy who we all loved so much,” he said.
The mastiff-cross — which is not considered a dangerous breed — was captured and put down, according to NineMSN News.
New South Wales state premier Barry O'Farrell said he would review regulations covering dangerous dogs, and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd vowed to give any support needed.
Even if the mastiff had been registered and treated as a dangerous breed, the toddler would still have been attacked, Deniliquin Council manager Des Bliske stated.
That's because council guidelines are mostly concerned with how dangerous breeds should be handled and restrained in public. Dangerous dogs must be muzzled whenever they are outside their owner's property, which must have sufficient "containment measures", Bliske said on Monday.
Police are still investigating the attack, but it's unlikely charges will be laid against the owner.
"The dog is a family pet, but obliviously the matter will be put before the coroner," he told AAP on Monday. "Somebody has made a choice to bring up and to look after an animal and that comes with a responsibility and that is where we need to start looking as well."
He said the Department of Local Government was responsible for maintaining the list of banned breeds.
"That list is reviewed from time to time," he said. "Whenever any of these terrible incidents occur the department looks to see whether the existing regulations are strong enough. If they are not strong enough they seek to reinforce them." But he said the only viable solution to prevent future attacks is more responsible ownership.
Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick said the dog was registered and had not shown any signs of any violence before the attack, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Bliske said the brutality of the mauling was unusual.
"We’ve probably had three or four [attacks] over the last 12 months, not all of them involving people. People that own dogs generally control them and keep them very well contained,’’ he said.