Authorities were weighing whether to file charges against a woman after her pit bulls mauled a 9-year-old boy to death in Yuba County over the weekend.
The young victim was left alone in a trailer on Sunday with the three dogs while his 24-year-old half-sister went to work around 10 a.m., according to a news release from the Yuba County Sheriff's Office. The incident occurred in Linda, a community about 40 miles north of Sacramento.
When she returned three hours later, the boy was unresponsive and had "significant wounds," Sheriff Steven Durfor told KTLA sister station KTXL. It was believed he was attacked by at least one of the dogs.
The young woman called 911, but the little boy was pronounced deceased at the hospital, he said.
In an interview with the television station, Alexandria Griffin-Heady expressed grief over her brother's death.
“I failed him. Whether it’s my fault, my dogs fault, whoever’s fault – I wanted to protect him, and I wanted to give him an amazing life," she said through tears.
She explained the boy had been visiting her for the weekend. According to the Sacramento Bee, Griffin-Heady had planned to adopt her younger brother, Tyler Griffin-Huston, who was in and out of foster care following the death of his mother.
The little boy had been living in a foster home. Tyler was under the supervision of Sacramento County Child Protective Services at the time of his death, the newspaper reported.
In a statement obtained by KTXL, Child Protective Services said in part: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of this child ... CPS is continuing to work with Yuba County law enforcement during this investigation."
Griffin-Heady had unsupervised overnight visits with the child, and told the station her brother did not have any problems previously with the pit bulls.
“He loved them. He laid in the bed with them. He played with them. He wanted one of their puppies," she said.
County Animal Care Service had no reported history with the dogs, according to the news release.
Griffin-Heady told KTXL they were not vicious animals: “Never a day in their life.”
The pit bulls could be euthanized, pending the outcome of an investigation, according to the sheriff. There was also the possibility that their owner might be charged in the case.
Griffin-Heady told the station that as much as she loved her dogs, her half-brother was more important.
“He’ll never get to drive a car. He’ll never get to have a first kiss. He’ll never get to graduate. He wanted to be a zookeeper … he loved animals," she said, her voice choked with emotion. “It kills me, he’ll never get any of those.”