FILED IN: Pit Bulls

8-month-old boy killed by family dog in 'one swift bite'

8-month-old Tyzhel, pictured with 3-year-old pit bull Zulu. Photo via Family Photo Handout via UT San Diego

A mother in Lemon Grove, California, is grieving the loss of her 8-month-old son after what has been described as a “tragic accident” involving a dog that shared the home and was considered part of the boy’s family.

The mother, who spoke to UT San Diego on the promise that her name would not be published, said that she was in disbelief that the pit bull, which she said watched over her son like a protective parent, would ultimately take her baby’s life.

“Never in my life I thought that would happen,” she told UT San Diego.

The 27-year-old mother had been working to give her son a better life.  She had been homeless and abused in the past, and due to her epilepsy had been through a high-risk pregnancy with her son, reports UT San Diego.

The mother had moved into the apartment she currently resides in two years ago with a female friend as her roommate.  Her friend brought her three male pit bulls along with her, Blue -the father – and his two puppies, Zulu and Hercules, reports UT San Diego.

The mother told UT San Diego that when her son, Tyzhel McWilliams, was born she had no concerns over allowing her son and the dogs to interact with each other.

“They loved him from the beginning,” she told UT San Diego.

On Thursday evening Tyzhel was in the living room playing while his mother and her roommate friend were sitting in a bedroom talking.  From the bedroom they had a partial view of the living room.  Three-year-old Zulu was in the bedroom with the mother and her roommate.  One of the other dogs was outside in the backyard and the other was sleeping in a crate, reports UT San Diego.

When little Tyzhel crawled into the bedroom, Zulu bit the baby once on the head and then let go, reports UT San Diego.

“It just happened so quickly,” the mother told UT San Diego.

When authorities arrived the injured boy was being held by his mother.  He died later that evening in the hospital due to his injuries.

“He was the light of my world. I’d do anything for him,” the mother, who has no contact with Tyzhel’s father, told UT San Diego. “He was the best thing in my life.”

A city of Chula Vista spokeswoman told UT San Diego that Zulu was euthanized on Thursday and the two other dogs – who were temporarily taken from the home to a shelter – have now been returned.

The mother and her roommate said that although the dogs had killed two cats that had entered the backyard previously, they considered the dogs to be friendly and well-behaved, reports UT San Diego.

When the mother was asked what she would have done differently, she told UT San Diego, “I guess not have dogs around the baby, but I really had no reason to think to treat the dog and baby differently.”

Sheriff’s detectives are continuing to investigate the boy’s death.  No arrests have been made.

Sources:  UT San Diego, NBC