DIGHTON, Mass. — A 14-year-old helping a dog trainer take care of dogs was apparently mauled to death by four dogs, according to officials in Dighton.
Ryan Hazel was dropped off by his grandmother Thursday evening to help care for dogs at a kennel while the property owner was out of town.
“It appears there was an arrangement between the owner and Ryan’s family,” Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said at a news conference Friday. “This was clearly a terrible tragedy for the family."
The property owner, Scott Dunmore, was away in Boston and Hazel was dropped off to help care for the dogs. His grandmother told investigators she waited in the car as she expected to spend just 30-45 minutes completing his tasks.
After an hour, police say the grandmother became worried about Hazel and contacted his parents, who were away in New York.
The boy’s parents contacted neighbors of Dunmore and asked them to check on their son.
When a neighbor arrived, police say they found four dogs – one Dutch shepherd and three Belgian Malinois – roaming the property outside of their enclosure. That’s when the neighbor found Ryan Hazel with grave injuries.
That’s when a call went out to police for “a pack of dogs attacking a human,” Police Chief Robert MacDonald said.
First responders arrived to find Hazel with “traumatic injuries.”
“The injuries were too severe, and he was pronounced deceased at the scene by first responders,” Bristol County DA Thomas Quinn said. “It appears foul play was not involved.”
"I just miss him a lot. I can't believe he's gone. It's hard to believe he's gone," Hazel's friend said.
This is the first time police have been at the property, according to Chief MacDonald. He told reporters the fire department was called to the property for a house fire earlier this year, but he said he was unaware of any other calls.
“The investigation is obviously ongoing we’re trying to provide, within reason, as much information as we can,” DA Quinn said. “We’ll continue to follow up on various pieces of evidence that we find.”
Officials wouldn’t say much about the property owner Scott Dunmore, but said he has been cooperating with the investigation up to this point.
“It appears foul play was not involved,” Quinn said. Though he said it was too early in the investigation to say whether or not Dunmore could be facing charges.
The dogs have been quarantined for a 10-day period by Dighton Animal Control. It’s unclear what will happen to them after that, but Quinn said it would be up to the town council to decide.
“Things like that should never happen to anybody, least of all to a 14-year-old boy. My condolences go out to the family,” Chief MacDonald said.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the Hazel family.
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