A dog severely injured an 11-year-old boy in a mauling in Boston Wednesday, authorities said, with a police officer opening fire to stop the attack and likely saving the child's life.
The boy was rushed to the hospital with injuries to his neck, arm and groin after the attack, which took place about 12:09 p.m. in a three-flat's backyard at Rock Terrace Way near Davidson Avenue in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, officials said.
The off-duty Boston police officer heard screams, jumped a couple of fences and radioed for help before coming face-to-face with the dog, a pit bull in the middle of the attack, officials said.
"Fearing for the child's safety, the officer discharged his firearm, halting the attack," police Commissioner William Gross said.
The officer, who hasn't been named, was taken to the hospital as well. Officials haven't given an update on his or the child's condition.
"If it wasn’t for the off-duty officer, this child would be dead," Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Two pit bulls were removed from the property later Wednesday afternoon. Only one of the dogs is accused of attacking the youngster.
”The child was in his backyard being attacked by a pit bull. And we are hearing that another individual was holding another pit bull, preventing that dog from joining in on the attack,” Gross said.
The nature of the relationship between the dogs and the boy is under investigation, but say police say they have been called to the house before because of the animals.
And a neighbor told NBC10 Boston that the dogs were "loose all the time," sharing video of them running through the street before the attack, their leashes dragging behind them.
“I’ve seen them when they were outside and they were trying to attack other people too,” the neighbor said.