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Oklahoma Boy, 7, Mauled to Death by Newly Adopted Family Dog: Officials

James McNeelis

James McNeelis (courtesy GoFundMe)

A boy in Oklahoma has been mauled to death by a dog his family had rescued just three weeks before the attack.

James McNeelis was just 7 years old when he was attacked in his own backyard Wednesday, according to authorities.

Authorities had received a report of a missing boy near Keifer, Oklahoma, at around 7:20 p.m., according to a statement from the Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

Just 15 minutes later, a family member found the boy’s body, the sheriff’s office said.

“The child was pronounced deceased at approximately 7:35 p.m.,” the sheriff’s statement said.

According to reports, James’ father found the boy’s body.

Family members called authorities after James didn’t come home after dinner and didn’t respond to calls from the family, local affiliate KJRH reported.

Local officials on the scene said it appeared to be a tragic accident.

“It doesn’t look like any foul play,” sheriff Bret Bowling told KOCO. “Our preliminary indications or investigation [indicate] it’s some kind of animal.”

The Creek County Sheriff’s Office said it is working with the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office on the investigation into the incident.

James’ family told KJRH that the dog was a mix of a Corgi and a Shetland Sheepdog and that they had the dog for just three weeks after taking it in as a stray.

The family was caring for the dog, as it had been “dumped on the side of the road,” KOTV reported.

According to KJRH, the family said the dog hadn’t shown aggression before the attack.

The dog is now being held at an animal control facility, according to reports.

A neighbor told local CBS affiliate KOTV that multiple vehicles appeared to have joined in the search for James.

“We just started seeing flashing lights, Kiefer Police, highway patrol, another vehicle had their flashers on driving up and down the road,” neighbor Shannon Edison told the station.

Edison said she and her family were celebrating a birthday outside on their porch near the area when they heard and saw the commotion begin, KOTV reported.

“We knew something was wrong. As a mother, you know that scream, if anybody has ever heard that scream, you know that scream,” Edison added. “Something was catastrophically wrong.”

Edison added that once she figured out what happened, she was devastated, KOTV reported.

“It was gut wrenching,” she said. “No family should ever have to go through something like that. I just couldn’t believe it, honestly. It was something that was unfathomable.”

James’s mother, Hannah Markley, launched a fundraiser Sunday on GoFundMe.

“On October 20th, 2021, Michael and Hannah found their little boy mauled in their back yard,” the page says. “This is in order to help with memorial and cremation expenses for James.”

[Image courtesy GoFundMe]

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