Residents in a suburban Joliet community expressed sadness Monday after a 17-month-old girl was fatally mauled by a pit bull mix while her parents were visiting a friend's home a Fourth of July party, police officials stated.
At approximately 1:27 a.m., officers with the Joliet Police Department were called to a home in the 1800 block of Cumberland Drive where they encountered a toddler with bite marks throughout her body. The young girl was taken to AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center where she died from her injuries, according to a news release issued on Monday.
Investigators revealed that the 17-month-old's parents were visiting a friend's home, and two dogs were locked in a basement. At one point during the night, the parents put the toddler in a playpen in an upstairs bedroom.
The dogs then somehow got out of the basement, according to a news release.
"We’re devastated for the family," said neighbor Deborah Bell. "[I] don’t know what to say...Our heart goes out to the family. We’re so sorry."
One neighbor, who's also a dog owner, said he was shocked to learn what happened.
"You never want to hear that," Mike Minor said. "I feel for the families."
After hearing a noise, the homeowner went upstairs and found one of the dogs biting the toddler. That person was able to separate the dog from the toddler and then called 911.
The dog was turned over to Joliet Township Animal Control.
"Somehow someone turned the handle," said Bell. "There are smart dogs out there. However, parents also need to take charge of their children. It’s unfortunate."