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Girl, 1, dies in East Providence dog attack

East Providence police said a 15-month-old girl was killed in a dog attack at her home. Two adults were injured. (WJAR)
East Providence police said a 15-month-old girl was killed in a dog attack at her home. Two adults were injured. (WJAR)
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East Providence police said Friday a 15-month-old girl was killed after being attacked by a family dog. They said the incident happened at her grandparent's home.

"The family had sat down for lunch outside," said East Providence Police Chief William Nebus. "The baby was on the ground roaming freely and the dog, in the fenced in backyard, was also roaming freely. As far as we know, it was an unprovoked attack. There was no food on the ground both of them were going for, there was no hair pulling, no tail pulling, anything of that sort," he said.

Officers responded to the Brookhaven Drive home at about 2:45 p.m. Thursday for a "disturbance in progress." They later determined the dog, described as a pitbull-type breed, had bitten the child.

"We were shocked," said Tracy Couto who lives down the street. "We wanted to know what was going on up the street. We saw people getting transported into an ambulance. We knew something horrific happened at that house."

Police said the 15-month-old girl had significant injuries from the attack. She died shortly after arriving at Hasbro Children's Hospital.

Two adults in the family were treated for injuries they suffered while trying to stop the attack.

Neighbors watched as police officers and Animal Control tried to capture the dog. It was euthanized on the property.

"We saw them going around the house with the pole to try and grab the dog, that took about a half-hour, 45 minutes," said neighbor Heidi Dorazio. "Then you saw them put the ladder on the roof, saw the officer walking across the roof quite a few times and then you heard the shots."

"We heard the gunshots," Couto said. "I heard the dog howling when he went down. I just can't believe what I was hearing."

Police said the dog belonged to the family.

"People might say this was just because it was a pit bull, but be careful of all breeds when you're introducing children," Nebus said. "There was no fault here to throw around, whether it was the parents or grandparents, maybe the dog didn't even know this was a child and didn't realize the extent of what it was doing. I'm not trying to make excuses for that, but, the message is, be careful with all dogs and children."

Police said they were not aware of any prior incidents involving the dog.

"I'm just shocked and I'm saddened by the loss of the family," Couto said. "I feel terribly for that family right now. I just wish I could go over and give them a hug," she added.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with expenses.

"It's devastating for the family, it's devastating for the neighborhood," Dorazio said.

The case remains under investigation by the East Providence Police Detective Division and East Providence Animal Control.

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