Florida 6-year-old Jaelah Smith was home with her mother and siblings on Sunday when tragedy struck.
The family was inside with a pit bull terrier that they were pet sitting for a friend when the dog lashed out and attacked Jalelah, WFTV reports.
Neighbor Timothy Hightower, who lives a few doors down from the family, heard the mother cry out after her little girl was mauled.
He told News4Jax:
“I just kept hearing somebody (yell), ‘Help me, help me! She came out of the house and laid the baby down right there and told us to call the paramedics, and that’s what we did.”
Hightower said that witnesses in the area were nervous to help out of fear the dog would attack them:
“She begged them, ‘Please somebody, call the police! Somebody help me!’ Everybody was kind of scared because the dog was still loose…. If I could give my life for her life, I’d do it. I really would.”
The child was rushed to a nearby hospital with “very serious, life-threatening injuries.”
But the child’s father confirmed that his little girl died days later. He said in a statement:
Unfortunately, my princess is no longer with us. I would like for you guys to keep my family in your prayers.
Animal Services removed the dog from the home. According to Florida law, a dog that bites a person resulting in death must be euthanized.
Message shared with me by the man who also shared this photo with me of who he says is fatal pitbull attack victim: Jaelah Smith, 6.
“I have no comments at the moment but I look forward to speaking with you guys and getting my princess story heard.” @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews pic.twitter.com/QfFpcBWDZ3
— Cole Heath (@ColeANjax) July 18, 2018
The dog’s owner may also face harsh consequences.
The owner may face jail time or a $500 fine “if the state can prove reckless disregard in this attack,” reports News4Jax.
According to a 2017 study, pit bulls account for 66 percent of fatal dog attacks, followed by Rottweilers.
If you encounter a dog you think may attack, experts recommend staying still and covering your ears and neck if possible.
It’s unclear what prompted this pit bull to attack the child. Two other children in the home at the time were unharmed.