Girl, 9, killed in mauling identified; dogs 'very likely' to be euthanized

Detroit — The 9-year-old girl killed in a dog-mauling attack Monday night on Detroit's west side has been identified as Emma Hernandez, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner.

Emma died from multiple injuries, the medical examiner said.

Police investigate along Central near Smart in Detroit after a dog attacked a little girl on Monday.

The owner of three dogs was in custody. Police said the animals killed Emma in an alley on Central, off Smart, as she rode a bike. That's south of West Warren and east of Lonyo.

The three dogs were in the possession of Detroit Animal Care and Control, the city said in a statement. 

"Due to the severity of this case, it is very likely that the dogs will be euthanized," the statement said.

The girl’s father, Armando Hernandez, said the man was warned that a fence used to hold the dogs was too flimsy. He told radio station WWJ that he is “speechless” and “empty” after the attack.

Hernandez, who tried CPR on his daughter at the scene, said he sees his daughter “every time I close my eyes.”

Police described the dogs as pit bulls or pit-bull mixes. One initially was believed to have been shot by a bystander while a medical crew tried to save the girl in the alley.

Neighbors said they threw bricks at the dogs to try to stop the attack.

Relatives say they are raising money for a funeral for Emma Hernandez, who was killed Monday.

"Emma was a wonderful child who touched the lives of those around her," the family said in a statement. "She leaves behind a family that loves her immensely."

Relatives said Emma was dedicated to her schoolwork and loved playing and enjoying life with her family.

"Quick to get a head start on schoolwork. She was such a smart and silly girl," the family said. "(Emma) loved to be outdoors and play with her cousins. A beautiful soul inside and out."

The Hernandez family said they are devastated and were not prepared for the high cost of a funeral service. The family was raising money for Emma's funeral through GoFundMe, which jumped from $14,000 to surpassing its $25,000 goal Tuesday in minutes.

Emma's funeral was paid for after Detroit millionaire Bill Pulte, 31, tweeted a call to action Tuesday to his devoted online following he calls "teammates" to raise money for a service.

"If we don't raise enough money for this 9-year-old, who was killed by dogs in Detroit, I will personally pay for her funeral," Pulte tweeted.

Besides being CEO Pulte Capital and Blight Authority, Pulte is well-known as a philanthropist and as the grandson of William Pulte, who was renowned for building 24 homes per day. 

"I saw the news and thought we have to take care of this family," Pulte told The Detroit News. "I'm sure they are human beings like everyone else, and they want help. A tweet was the least I could do."

It was the latest dog attack in Metro Detroit.

In December 2015, Xavier Strickland was pulled from his mother as they walked on the city’s west side. They were on their way to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School.

The boy was grabbed from his mother’s clutches by three dogs and pulled under a gate to the backyard of a home where the dogs were kept outside.

The dogs' owner, Geneke Lyons, faced up to 15 years in prison. He was convicted in June 2016 on charges of manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death.

Lyons was given nearly a year of jail time with five years of probation.

In 2014, Craig Sytsma, a metallurgist who ran a business in the Lapeer area, was jogging in Metamora Township when Cane Corsos from a nearby house chased him down.

The dogs' owners, Sebastiano Quagliata and Valbona Lucaj, were sentenced to up to 15 years in Sytsma's death.

Detroit police Chief James Craig it is an owner's responsibility to secure the animal and if they can't, they "should not have the animal."

"This should not have happened," Craig said. "How many more times? We hear these stories about some of these pit bulls. I think of an image of postal employees who lost a limb... here we are sitting here talking about a child and a family."

Associated Press contributed to this report.