Police Release New Details on Dighton Teen Mauled to Death by Dogs

A 14-year-old Massachusetts boy who was mauled to death by dogs on Thursday night has been identified.

Authorities said Ryan Hazel, of Rehoboth, was found dead at a property at 2477 Maple Swamp Rd. in Dighton by police responding to a 911 call for a pack of dogs attacking a human shortly before 8 p.m.

"Last night we had a tragic situation happen in town here where a young teenage boy lost his life. Things like that should never happen to anybody, never mind a 14-year-old boy," said Dighton Police Chief Robert MacDonald. "It's a very, very sad thing."

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said the boy was at the property to take care of several dogs kept there when he was attacked. He said the boy's grandmother drove him to the property around 6 p.m. to take care of the animals while the homeowner was in Boston, something he had been doing regularly for about a year.

The boy's grandmother said it usually took him about 30 to 45 minutes to complete his tasks, so when he didn't return to the car for over an hour, she contacted his parents, who called a neighbor to come check on him.

Quinn said the neighbor went to the property and found Hazel lying on the ground in the rear yard suffering from "traumatic injuries" to various areas of his body.

"This is clearly a tragedy for the victim, his family, his friends and the town. My heart goes out to all of them," said Quinn.

The neighbor also found four dogs — three Dutch shepherds and one Belgian malinois — in the yard and put them in the basement. Seven other dogs on the property are believed to have been caged. Quinn said the dogs were not licensed.

The neighbor called 911 and attempted to perform CPR, but the boy's injuries were too severe. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

"It does not appear that any foul play is suspected," Quinn said.

All 11 dogs were later taken into custody by animal control and will be quarantined for up to 10 days, according to Massachusetts law. Quinn said it will be up to Dighton town officials to decide if any of the animals will be put down.

The boy's death remains under investigation by state and local police. An autopsy is scheduled to be conducted.

The owner of the dogs, 49-year-old Scott Dunmore, was contacted shortly after the incident and returned home from Boston. Quinn said Dunmore has been cooperating with the investigation. So far, no criminal charges have been filed.

A man who did restoration work on the property told NBC10 Boston that Dunmore trains animals. 

Police said no previous incidents had been reported at the property, but there was a fire there in February.

Neighbors say they're concerned after seeing the dogs off leash in the past.

"There's been a few situations where she was approached by a few dogs kind of running at her and then stopped at the last second," neighbor Benjamin Caron said describing how the dogs approached a family member. "Just an awful, awful situation I would never expect that to happen on my street."

Hazel was a freshman at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School in Taunton. Grief counselors were on hand Friday to help his classmates cope with the tragedy.

"It's pretty sad, I mean I feel like crying now because of what happened," said student Marcus Hodge.

"A lot of kids you could tell were really hit hard, even teachers hit hard by it," added student Jacob Edwards. "They had the lecture hall filled with kids. If they needed to they didn't have to go to class if they couldn't deal with it, BP actually helped pretty well for what they could do.

Antonio Silva said Hazel was in some of his classes.

"I had him in a couple of my shop exploratories. He was a good kid from what I know," said Silva.

According to classmates, Hazel was a member of the school's football team.

"It is with a heavy heart that we have heard the news of the tragic dath of a Rehoboth teenager," the school district said in a statement. "Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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