DIGHTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Police are investigating a horrific dog attack on a 14-year-old boy who died on Thursday at a dog trainer’s property.
The boy, Ryan Hazel of Rehoboth, was a freshman at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School.
At a news conference Friday, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said Hazel had been regularly checking on the Maple Swamp Road property, owned by Scott Dunmore, for the past year. His grandmother dropped him off to do some chores on Thursday and check on the animals.
Quinn said the chores typically take 30-45 minutes, and once an hour had passed Hazel’s grandmother became worried and called his parents. His parents, who were out of town, called a neighbor who went over to the property. He found Hazel unresponsive with significant injuries. He called 911 and also corralled four loose dogs into the basement of the house.
The neighbor attempted CPR on Hazel, but he was pronounced dead at the scene by first responders, Quinn said.
It’s unclear at this time why Hazel was attacked. Quinn said the breeds of the four dogs are Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois.
Dunmore, who was in Boston, came back to be interviewed by police and is cooperating with the investigation. No foul play is suspected, Quinn said.
“This was clearly a terrible tragedy for the victim, his family, and his friends, and the town,” Quinn said. “My heart goes out to all of them.”
Eleven adult dogs and nine puppies were removed from the property, according to Dighton Animal Control Officer Stacy Ferry. Four of the dogs are suspected to have been involved in the attack outside, while the other seven dogs were inside and crated. One of the dogs that was not involved in the attack had puppies four days ago.
The 20 dogs are being kept quarantined for 10 days, per state law. There will be a hearing to determine if the four dogs are considered dangerous, and if Dunmore will be allowed to take home the non-dangerous dogs.
Ferry said Dunmore had not licensed the dogs with the town of Dighton, which requires a kennel license for properties with four or more dogs. She said she had heard he had more than four dogs and stopped by his property multiple times attempting to inspect it, but he wasn’t home.
Any fines levied for the lack of license would come from the town clerk’s office, which was closed on Friday.
Eyewitness News was unable to reach Dunmore at the Dighton property or by phone.
Hazel was a student of the Community Health program at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, according to Superintendent Alexandre Magalhaes. She said grief counselors will be on hand for anyone in need of assistance.
“Any student who may need or want help or who is scared, confused or struggling to process this tragedy should know that that help is available,” Magalhaes said in a statement. “We are saddened by this loss in our school community, and as we come together, our leadership team will make every effort to provide assistance to our students, families and fellow employees as needed.”
Anyone seeking assistance is asked to call Pupil Services Administrator Melanie Shaw at (508) 823-5151 ext. 115.
A gofundme has been set up to help the family of Ryan Hazel. The page has already raised thousands of dollars more than the original goal.