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North Bryan child killed by family dogs; investigation ongoing
Bryan County Sheriff Clyde Smith speaks Thursday to local media during a press conference regarding the death of an Ellabell toddler who was attacked Wednesday by seven dogs. - photo by Crissie Elric

A North Bryan toddler died Wednesday after being mauled outside her home by a pack of family dogs while family members were inside.

According to Bryan County Sheriff Clyde Smith, family members awoke from a nap around 6:30 p.m. to find 21-month-old Monica Renee Laminack being attacked by seven pit bulls and pit bull mixes in the yard of their home at 595 Elm Drive.

“Apparently what happened is the child and the dogs were all in the house together and exited the house through the doggie door,” Smith said during a press conference Thursday morning in Pembroke. “The dogs apparently live in the house also … and they all went outside and at some point they started attacking the child, mauled her and drug her all over the yard. They tore her clothes off and scattered her clothes all over a pretty large back yard.”

Smith said the child’s mother, Summer Laminack, 18, grandmother, Michelle McIntyre, great-grandmother, Pat Asher, and two uncles, ages 14 and 12, were at home at the time of the attack.

“They said they arrived back from a store shortly after 5 p.m. and indicated they had all went to sleep or something, and we got the call at 6:36 p.m.,” he said.

Smith said the grandmother called 911 after she heard the dogs barking.

“The grandmother to the child heard the dogs barking and making noise outside and said she got up, looked out the window and saw the dogs mauling the baby and yelled, ‘They’re killing Monica,’” he said.

“The family rushed down the stairs and went out the yard and pulled the dogs off and the child’s mother ... picked the child up and stated that she knew the child was dead at that time.”

When authorities arrived at the home, Smith said EMS personnel immediately requested a coroner, and the child was pronounced dead on the scene.

No charges have been filed yet and an investigation is ongoing. An autopsy of the child was scheduled for Thursday.

Smith said charges of child neglect would be the minimum that could be filed. Any charges that might be filed would likely not happen before the child’s funeral, he said.

Smith only saw photographs of the child, but said deputies and emergency personnel who responded to the scene were “very disturbed.”

“They said it was the worst they have seen,” he said. “It was bad — very bad.”

Smith said there were a total of nine dogs in the home, seven of which were pit bulls or a pit bull mix. The other two, a setter and a beagle, Smith said, were not involved in the mauling.

“All seven dogs (involved) were put down by Bryan County Animal Control at that time,” he said. “They euthanized them at the scene, and I’m sure there will some repercussions of that. But I take full responsibility for that myself.”

According to statements from the family, Smith said they never believed the child was in any danger.

“From statements of the family, the dogs had access to the house and lived inside the house and outside in the yard, and the child supposedly played with the dogs quite a bit,” he said, noting the family indicated she had even played with them prior to the attack.

He noted Bryan County Animal Control and the sheriff’s department have never responded to an animal complaint call at that location before.

Smith added he assumed any breed of dog — not just pit bulls — could have done this.

“I’m no authority on dogs, but when they start, they will attack,” he said.

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