Child in critical condition after attack by family dog

Neighbor: Dog 'kept gnawing away' at boy

INDIANAPOLIS - A 12-year-old boy was in critical condition after being attacked by a dog Friday afternoon, officials said.

The attack happened just after 4 p.m. in the 200 block of North Tacoma Avenue, which is near Washington and Rural streets on the city's east side.

Officials said the dog, a pit bull, belonged to Keith Phillips, the boyfriend of the victim's mother.

Phillips has been cited by animal control officials for the attack. Officials said he was cited for a similar offense in 2012, but it's not clear if the two citations were for attacks by the same dog.

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control officials said the boy's mother pulled the dog off her son, but the dog went after the boy again.

Neighbors heard the mother's shouts for help and intervened.

"He was like, sitting down, but the dog was on the back of his arm," said neighbor Robin Franklin. "I hollered for my husband, we both went running across the street and tried to grab the dog from behind and hold its head.

"The dog was not letting go. He just kept gnawing away at the kid."

Franklin said the boy was turning white, had blue lips and was losing consciousness. She said she and her husband tried stabbing the dog, but it would still not let go.

Franklin said Phillips wasn't home during the attack, but his next door neighbor -- Dale -- called him to tell him the attack was happening.

"Keith told Dale to shoot it, he said, 'No, I don't want to shoot your dog,' he said, 'Shoot that dog,'" Franklin said.

The neighbor shot the dog six times, killing it.

Franklin said Phillips had mentioned before that he was worried about the dog.

"He did say he knew already the dog was vicious," she said.

Franklin said if she and other neighbors hadn't intervened, the boy would have certainly died.

"The dog would have killed that kid," she said.

The boy was taken to Riley Hospital for Children with critical injuries.

Phillips was also cited because his dog was not wearing a rabies tag. Animal control officers will have to test the deceased dog for rabies.

Phillips will go to court Aug. 12.

Rebecca Stevens, the director of the Humane Society for Hamilton County who owns a pit bull herself, said this attack and others like it boil down to irresponsible pet owners.

"I think people who've been cited for an issue that involves a dog that hurts somebody, they get their citation, they get their chance to make things right," she said. "This person didn't, they need to go to jail."

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