'Unimaginable toll' on family after dog mauls 4-year-old to death in Hazel Park

Hazel Park — A 4-year-old boy was mauled to death in a harrowing attack Tuesday night by a pit bull the child's family was fostering after being told it "never showed aggressive behavior." 

A statement from the family, released Wednesday, said the loss of the boy, identified as Benjamin Cobb, "has taken an unimaginable toll on our family, friends and those who knew our sweet boy."

It was a "kind gesture to help a friend in a time of need" that led the family to bring the dog that "was said to have never shown aggressive behaviors" into the home, the family statement said.

Benjamin Cobb

The boy's 14-year-old sister called 911 at about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday to report her mother was trying to stop a male pit bull from attacking her brother at their home on the 500 block of East Woodruff, authorities said in a statement.

Investigators learned the mother cut the 60-pound canine with a knife while trying to defend her son.

When police officers responded to the scene with the fire department and saw the dog "actively attacking" the 4-year-old, they used Tasers to free him, authorities said.

The pit bull ran out of the house. The boy, who sustained serious wounds to his neck and body, was rushed by ambulance to a hospital before being pronounced dead.

Oakland County Medical Examiner determined Benjamin's death as accidental, saying the cause was sharp force injuries. Casimir Miarka, a spokesman for the Oakland County Medical Examiner, declined to share further details, citing a police investigation. 

Benjamin Cobb

His 38-year-old mother also was hospitalized for treatment of dog bite injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.

Officers found and secured the pit bull, which was taken to a local veterinarian and euthanized, investigators said.

"A preliminary finding appears that this case was a tragic incident and the investigation continues to determine why the dog attacked the boy," officials said Tuesday night. "The Hazel Park Police Department extends its sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased."

While the city does not have specific ordinances for pit bulls, it does require animals to be registered. Hazel Park Animal Control declined to comment on the dog’s registry. 

On Wednesday, the neighborhood around the gray-panel home on East Woodruff Street was quiet. 

Someone in a white hazmat suit helps remove items from the home where a 4-year-old boy was fatally mauled Tuesday.

Pumpkins stood on tree stumps and ghost stickers decorated the front window of the home. 

A crew dressed in hazmat suits could be seen removing furniture from the home. Neighbors said they didn't witness the attack or the aftermath. 

The family has created a GoFundMe page, seeking $10,000 to cover the boy's funeral expenses.

More:GoFundMe: Memorial services for Benjamin

The death is the second fatal mauling of a child in Metro Detroit in recent months.

In August, 9-year-old Emma Hernandez died after three pit bulls attacked her as she rode her bicycle in southwest Detroit.

The incident sparked widespread outrage and calls for stricter animal policies in the city.

The dogs' owner has since been charged with murder and faces a trial.