RIVERVIEW — The family of 4-year-old Logan Shepard called his mauling death by two pit bulls on Saturday night “a tragic loss.”
Logan was found in the front yard of his aunt and uncle’s home by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies around 10:30 p.m. Saturday night, sheriff’s records said.
Logan had walked to the home of Dolores and Billy Frederick Sr., 12509 Rhodine Road, with his mother, Stephanie Groulx, who lives on nearby Tocci Lane in the Tropical Acres community.
Logan was given ice cream Saturday night, while the adults and a 15-year-old cousin went into a bedroom to talk, records said.
The pit bulls were crated but got loose, the sheriff’s office said. Logan’s relatives heard screams and couldn’t find him when they emerged from the bedroom.
Deputies on an unrelated nearby traffic stop also heard screams and responded to the Fredericks’ house, where they found Logan in the yard with the two dogs standing over him. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Several vehicles were parked outside Groulx’s house Sunday afternoon, and a woman and young girl were heard consoling a woman who answered the door.
A girl who said she was Logan’s sister said she was “very sad.” The girl described Logan as a quiet little boy who “loved everybody,” but she declined to give her name.
“I’m not ready for that,” she said.
A man who came out of the house said the family’s only comment was that Logan’s death is a “tragic loss.” He identified himself as a cousin of Logan’s, but also declined to give his name.
The Pet Resources Division of Hillsborough County took possession of the dogs, which were “humanely euthanized” by Sunday afternoon, said Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for the division formerly known as Animal Services.
Ryan said tests will be done on the adult female dogs to determine whether there were medical issues or other stressors that may have triggered the attack. Further information is expected to be available Monday afternoon, Ryan said.
There is no history of the Pet Resources Division making previous calls to the Fredericks’ home, according to the sheriff’s office.
No charges have been filed, but the investigation continued Sunday.
Neither Billy nor Dolores Fredericks have a criminal history in Hillsborough County, records show. Groulx was arrested on a domestic violence charge in 1999, jail records show.
About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, nearly 20 percent of which are children, according to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the roughly 885,000 people who require medical attention for dog bites each year, half are children, according to the CDC.
Pit bulls are among several dog species that have made headlines for aggressive behavior.
“There is no science that backs up breed discrimination,” said Ryan, referring to the negative view some people have of pit bulls. “It’s the circumstances (one must understand), not the breed. Any dog can bite. The cardinal rule is to never leave any dog and any child alone in any case.
“We’re trying to roll back the layers now to find out how that occurred” in Logan’s case, she said.
Carol Oller, who lives a couple of blocks from where Logan was killed, said she is a former dog groomer who knows people with pit bulls. Oller does not know the Fredericks or Groulx, but said the Fredericks appeared to keep the pit bulls leashed and inside their fenced yard.
“Pit bulls get a bad rap, but you need to take precautions with any dog,” Oller said. “I wouldn’t trust my German Shepherd-chow around kids.”
Neighbor Erik Adams was riding home on his motorcycle Sunday afternoon. He said the neighborhood is typically peaceful, although longtime residents have noticed more crime in recent years.
“I didn’t hear anything (Saturday night), and I was up late,” Adams said. “Just about everybody who lives in here has an acre or two. It’s usually pretty quiet, except when people are throwing their trash out.”