A three-year-old boy was reportedly beaten to death by dogs in Australia’s Northern Territory after wandering away alone on New Year’s Eve.
The Northern Territory Police were contacted about a missing boy and launched a search and rescue operation in an area southwest of Alice Springs. The boy was found alive but with serious injuries and died shortly after at a local health clinic.
Police Deputy Commissioner Sachin Sharma said the boy’s injuries during the ongoing investigation coincide with an animal attack. He said that while foul play cannot be ruled out, it appears that dogs were involved in the boy’s death. They assume the boy ran away alone and was attacked that night.
“A pathological examination at this point determined that there was an attack compatible with an animal attack,” ABC News quoted him as saying. “The investigation continues, but at this stage the investigation and evidence points in that direction.”
According to the Australian Associated Press, Sharma told reporters that two dogs are being held and will be subject to a forensic examination. These animals are known as “camp dogs,” which are semi-domesticated animals that live in the Hermannsburg community.
Hermannsburg is an Aboriginal settlement about 80 miles west of Alice Springs. It has a population of just over 600.
Sharma also said counselors were sent to the community to help them. “It’s that sense of loss,” ABC News quoted him as saying. “It’s appalling, it’s appalling. We are going to make a report for the coroner and the cause of death for this young child will be determined by the coroner.”
In a January 1 statement, Kirsten Engels, acting commanding officer of the Northern Territory Police, said: “We ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this time and we express our condolences for their loss.”
A 2017 Australian government report found that between 2013 and 2014, nearly 4,000 people were hospitalized for dog bites in the country. Children between the ages of 0 and 4 had the highest injury rates at 26.5 cases per 100,000. A total of 689 children between the ages of 0 and 9 years were hospitalized because of dog bites, 405 of them aged 4 years or younger.
In the United States, nearly 5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Research published in 2019 found that the breeds responsible for the most bites are pit bulls and mixed breeds, with bites from these being more common and heavier than other species.
Stock image of a dog who is baring its teeth. A three-year-old boy in Australia is believed to have been killed by dogs after migrating alone.