NIAGARA FALLS, NY --A 7-year-old boy is in critical condition at Women & Children's Hospital, and two dogs have been euthanized, following a dog attack in Niagara Falls Wednesday.
Niagara Falls Police were called to the 200 block of 70th St. around 3:15 Wednesday afternoon.
The first officer arriving on the scene said when he got there, a woman had already gotten the child away from the dogs. That woman, whose name is Nicole, ultimately saved the boy's life. Witnesses say she is the only person who intervened to try and help the child.
The boy, a relative of the dogs' owner, suffered severe injuries to his head and face. The boy's father, Ken Mitchell, told 2 On Your Side he underwent six hours of surgery and that his son is responsive, but still critical.
On Thursday, after receiving a stent in his neck, the boy was still fighting for his life at Women and Children's Hospital, said Amy Lewis, the Niagara County SPCA Director.
She also said both dogs, 15-month-old purebred Rottweilers, had bitten the boy. One disengaged almost immediately, however the other held on causing extensive injuries to the boy. She said she believes the dogs' protective instincts, potentially stronger due to the fact that they were not yet neutered, triggered the attack. At the time, the boy injured was playing a chasing game with a young girl who lived at the home.
The owner of the animals was ordered to quarantine the dogs for ten days so they can be checked for rabies. However, on Thursday, the Niagara County Health Department gave permission to have both dogs euthanized after their owner surrendered them, Lewis said. She added, as a precaution, their brains will be checked for rabies, but they had both received vaccinations to protect against the deadly disease.
Police say they are not aware of any prior incidents with the two dogs.
Lewis said she met with the owner of the dogs, who cared for the animals and she does not think they were bred to fight or be aggressive. She added she believes the whole thing was a "total, freak accident."
Family members expressed frustration on Thursday with the Niagara Falls Police Department because they say the responding officer did help stop the dog.
Nicole, the relative who intervened, tells 2 On Your Side that she told the officer it was okay to shoot, but that he didn't. She also said he did not attempt to help subdue or pull off the dog, either. Lewis said based on the circumstances, the officer would have been well within his legal rights to shoot.
Niagara Falls Police Chief Bryan DalPorto defended the officer's decision Thursday night, saying "every bullet that leaves an officer's gun is his responsibilty," and DalPorto said he feels confident the officer made the decision he thought was safest. That, however, is little consolation to a grieving family, who lost two dogs and is hoping their nephew survives.
There is a GoFundMe page set up to help with the young boy's medical bills.