RIO, W.Va. — A 3-day-old boy died of injuries after being attacked by a family pit bull at a residence in the Gretchen Acres subdivision late Saturday, according to Hardy County officials.

The identity of the child was not released by the Hardy County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the incident.

The incident was reported to the Hardy County 911 Center at 10:49 p.m., prompting alert of the Baker Rescue Squad and Rio fire and emergency medical services personnel. Air Care 4 helicopter from Winchester, Va., also responded to a landing site set up at the Ebenezer church lot in Rio by the North River Volunteer Fire Company. However, there was no transport, according to the emergency center.

The 1-year-old pit bull and a German Shepherd mixed breed that was also a family pet were euthanized by Hardy County Dog Warden Raymond Shockey with the authority of their owner, according to Deputy Melody Burrows, who is investigating the incident along with Deputy J.T. Miller.

Burrows said the baby’s mother had placed him securely on a bed in the Hollow Log Lane residence when the telephone rang. When she returned to the room with a cordless phone, the pit bull began to sniff around the baby. The mother nudged the dog away but it persisted in getting close to the child. At the same time, the German Shepherd came into the room. As the mother attempted to back the second dog away, the pit bull grabbed the baby. The dog failed to release the infant despite the mother choking the dog.

The mother’s 17-year-old daughter then entered the room, cornered the dogs and eventually was able to push them through an open window. The mother assisted the baby until emergency medical personnel arrived. The child succumbed to his injuries while en route to the helicopter landing zone.

Burrows said charges, including harboring a vicious animal, are pending. The family reportedly purchased the pit bull in May from a relative in Maryland.

“It’s very unfortunate for everyone involved. We’ve never had an incident like this in this county. It shocks the conscience of everybody. The EMS personnel made every effort to revive the child,” said Burrows.

Burrows also said she was not aware of any previous vicious dog complaints at the residence.

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