Dog Attack Kills Mt. Pleasant Toddler

Update: Officials offer new details on fatal dog mauling.

Deputies have released photos of the dogs involved in the deadly Sunday attack.

Authorities released 911 calls associated with the dog attack. The graphic tapes reveal the panic in the wake of the attack.

A second dog attack in a little more than a month has claimed the life of a Charleston County toddler, officials say.

The mother of 2-year-old Ja'Marr Tiller thought the boy was sleeping Sunday in an upstairs bedroom at a family home in unincorporated Mount Pleasant. But somehow around 8 p.m., the child ventured into the yard and was the victim of a fatal attack, according to law enforcement.

"This is an extremely tragic situation, and really ironic that we've had two similar incidents in the greater (Charleston) community in the last month or two," said Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon.

The Sunday death follows an

That case, in another police jurisdiction,

There has been no official manner of death released in regard to Ja'Marr Tiller, but police are working under the assumption that the child was killed by an animal.

"We are seeking outside expertise to help us identify exactly where the wounds came from, to the extent that we can," Sheriff Cannon said at a Monday press conference. "There are a number of aspects that the coroner's office and the sheriff's office are working on."

Deputies responded at 8:30 p.m. Sunday to initial reports of a life-threatening dog attack, according to sheriff's spokesman Major Jim Brady. The child, critically injured, was transported to the Medical University of South Carolina where he was pronounced dead from the injuries, according to Coroner Rae Wooten.

Two dogs cared for by a relative — female and male lab-shepherd mixed breeds — were taken into custody by Animal Control.

"We do know the child died of injuries sustained, but there remains many unanswered questions about how this came to occur," Wooten said.

Experts will help determine if the dogs currently being held by animal control are indeed responsible, the sheriff said. Until then, nothing will happen to the animals.

"In any case you want to find the animal or the person that's responsible," Cannon said. "You've got to pursue that the same way you would a homicide. … We want to be certain that we've identified the dog, or dogs or animal or animals involved."

Coroner Wooten said the dogs currently in custody were not exactly family pets, but they were fed by Tiller's relatives. Cannon described them as "yard dogs." But the family's rural property was not fenced and any animal could have attacked the child.

The boy's mother, who left the child in a home with his aunt, uncle, grandmother and two cousins, returned after an hour or so to find the child stripped of his clothes and lying in the driveway with the two dogs over him, according to a family member who spoke with WCBD-TV.

"At that point, we all went running out of the house and we saw his lifeless body laying on the ground," said Octavia Johnson, the boy's aunt. "The dog was still … over him at that time."

The child had multiple injuries all over his body, though Wooten wouldn't say exactly how many. Deputies are just at the start of their investigation, Cannon said. He wouldn't elaborate on the potential for criminal charges.

"It's too soon to say," Cannon said. "Obviously there is a lot of grief here, and this investigation is far from complete. It's too early to make any statements in that regard. We're looking at this and awaiting a lot of investigatory steps that need to be complete."

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Jamie Healy May 31, 2012 at 05:10 PM
How naive KC. There are over 5 million animals put to death in shelters across the United States every single year. I believe last year's # was up around 9 million. If you think there's a shortage, check out your local shelter, or better yet, their freezers. There are far too many people back yard breeding and overpopulating the shelters with unwanted animals.
JackLeg May 31, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Maybe in some areas but certainly not ours, or any in SC that I am aware of. I have honestly never heard anyone or any statistics that state dog overpopulation is not a problem. Maybe there are some certain breeds that are difficult to come by but that is certainly not what I was referencing. The dogs responsible in these killings are medium to large size mixed breeds- with no declared owner. If you're interested in the truth about our area take a visit to any shelter and ask the workers. It is heartbreaking how many animals are put down on a weekly basis. What's even more upsetting is that many places in the state are 10 times worse than the Lowcountry. My humble opinion is that something needs to be done at the state level.
KC May 31, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Jamie, not naive, just very educated on the subject. Do your homework and research the truth. The numbers killed in shelters are currently quoted at about 3 million which include the very sick, old, injured and vicious. Out of over 78 million dogs in the U.S. that is fairly low, BUT to get those numbers lower shelters management must be held accountable. The problem is NOT solely the public especially when some shelters import 100's of thousands of dogs from other countries. Or shelters import dogs from over populated areas of the U.S. that are the 'cute' dog and let the less cute in their shelter or neighboring shelter be killed. I feel sorry for shelter workers because they see the worse of the worse day after day. At some point they need to take a break and see that what they know is by far the exception.
Jamie Healy May 31, 2012 at 06:32 PM
In case you missed it earlier, I worked as a national program manager for an animal welfare organization, working very closely with shelters located across the US. I have seen firsthand the statistics and the freezers. I KNOW what's going into them and coming out, and don't kid yourself into thinking it's old, sick, or mentally deranged animals. It's NOT. Millions of our local animals die day in and day out. Putting that blame on the animal shelters rather than to the community who causes the problems and dumps and abuses the animals is absurd. Transferring animals in and out of shelters is actually very normal and acceptable. For example, in California, their shelters are filled with little lap dogs like Chi's, while places in, for example, Texas don't have a single small dog in the shelter. Reorganizing the stock for lack of better wording, is a very good way to save lives by importing/exporting from one state, county, or city to another, based on what their desires are.
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