Family and friends of 4-year-old Kyler Johnson are in shock after discovering the missing boy's body in a neighbor's backyard. He had been mauled by pit bulls, and authorities say that as many as five dogs could have participated in the attack.
Kyler wandered away from his parents on Sunday night and neighbors came out in droves to help look for the little boy. The Victoria Advocate, a local Texan paper, reported that a prayer vigil was held Sunday night at the local Baptist church. Cole Johnson, Kyler's father, was in attendance and prayed before searching for his son.
After a 14-hour search, though, Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor made the grim announcement.
"This is a very unfortunate circumstance I have to report to you today," he said in a statement. "I was in hopes that our search would become fruitful and we found the young child alive. Unfortunately, we did not," the Victorian Advocate quoted him as saying.
Authorities report that he was killed by one pit bill owned by a neighbor, but other dogs may have participated in the attack.
The owner "goes out to feed his dogs and finds this child. It's extremely devastating," O'Connor told the Advocate. The neighbor owned five dogs but had never had any problems with them, and none of his neighbors had reported any problems with the dogs.
"He loved puppies and god mauled by dogs- good God! What can you do?" family friend Ken Hutchins told the Advocate. "Obviously, it's a nightmare. Our worst fears have been realized."
There has been much debate about whether large dogs such as pit bulls and Rottweilers should be kept as pets, especially when young children are in the neighborhood.
"Pit bulls, Rottweilers, dogs that are born and bred to be aggressive; we don't need them. There are too many other ways to protect your property," Terri Ellis, a search volunteer, told the Advocate.