LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – Deputies with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the death of a seven-year-old boy who was attacked by a pit bull Sunday morning.

Seven-year-old Talen West was playing in the woods behind his home with his eight-year-old brother Jaylen, and while walking back home, they were both attacked.

“The big one was just all over his face biting him up,” said Jaylen.

Jaylen saw the dog attacking his brother and tried to help, but it was already too late.

“When I saw his face and his lip with a big hole on it, I just …it was scary. I didn’t want him to die on me, but it was too late,” said Jaylen.

Robeson County Sheriff’s Office detectives found Talen unresponsive with severe puncture wounds on his body. The two boys were taken to Southeastern Medical Center Emergency Department where Talen died.

His brother Jaylen was injured in his lower body by the dog.

The family members say the boys played in the woods behind their home all of the time, and this is something they never expected.

“We hear about things like this and you never expect that to be in your family. Although your heart goes out to others who go through similar things, you never think that it could be your family,” said Locklear.

The family says Talen was an energetic boy who loved fishing, being outside, and spending time with his older brother, Jaylen.

“He was a wonderful child, happy, loving. He was just a little boy. He was a typical little boy,” said Locklear.

Now, the family wants justice for Talen.

“They should be held responsible because, like I said, pit bulls already have a bad reputation. Everyone knows they’re naturally aggressive, and if you’re going to have pit bulls, and be the owner of a pit bull, then you need to be completely and fully aware of where that pit bull is, what that pit bull is doing, and what kind of temperament that pit bull has, and if there’s any sign of aggression, you don’t let it run loose,” said Locklear.

Sheriff Kenneth Sealey with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office says when his deputies arrived at the scene, the dog was dead but did not have any apparent injuries.

The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Division and the Juvenile Division are investigating with the medical examiner to determine the exact cause of death for both the child and the dog.

Director of Public Health William Smith with Robeson County Health Department says a preliminary exam by a veterinarian indicates the deceased dog had a severe case of heart worms, which could have caused the dog’s heart to stop when it got excited. This however, is not the official cause of death for the dog, which will be determined through complete testing.

Smith explains there were three dogs in total involved in the attack that were taken by animal control and euthanized. In addition to the pit bull believed to have caused the fatal injuries, two mixed breed dogs were also put down following the attack. Puppies, parented by the pit bull and one of the mixed breed dogs, were taken to a rescue group in Robeson County.

No funeral arrangements have been made yet for Talen.

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