A young Indigenous boy was mauled to death on Thursday evening (Dec. 2) by an American pit bull terrier in south Taiwan.

The five-year-old boy was in his neighbor's yard at 7 p.m. in Pingtung County's Chunri Township when he was bitten by the dog on his abdomen. He was declared dead after being rushed to the hospital, reported SET News.

The dog was on a leash at the time of the incident and both the owner of the dog, surnamed Chiang (江), and the boy's mother have been asked by police to file reports on the incident. The area where the attack occurred has been sealed off with a police cordon.

Scene of pit bull attack
© Pingtung County Police Bureau
Scene of pit bull attack
According to a preliminary investigation, the boy, who had recently started kindergarten, was attacked by the dog as he ran in his neighbor's yard. The yard is near a doorway to his home.

During the attack, the dog reportedly latched onto the boy's stomach with his powerful jaws and would not release him. A neighbor called the police and assisted in taking the boy to the hospital.

However, due to the severity of the boy's injuries, doctors were unable to save him, and he was declared dead at 10 p.m. Just prior to the incident, the boy's mother had left the child with his grandmother to go buy food for the evening meal, reported Liberty Times.

Residents of Chunri Township were shocked to hear news of the attack. The township's mayor Ko Tzu-chiang (柯自強) said the boy had a mild learning disability and the mother was a single parent, adding he had offered to provide financial assistance for funeral expenses and psychological counseling.

The Department of Indigenous Peoples said that after receiving news of the tragedy, it dispatched social workers to provide emotional support, distribute aid, and accompany the individuals involved when filing police reports.

In August, the Bureau of Foreign Trade added American pit bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers to the list of animals barred from being imported. The rule went into effect in late October.

Existing pit bull owners can continue to raise their dogs as long as they apply for registration before Feb. 28, 2023. Otherwise, they face a fine of between NT$50,000 and NT$250,000 and can have their dog confiscated.

In addition, when walking their pit bulls in public, owners are required to keep their dogs muzzled and on a leash not exceeding 1.5 meters. Otherwise, they face a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, in accordance with the Animal Protection Act (動保法).

The Pingtung County Agriculture Department said the case could be a violation of the criminal code (刑法) and that it will follow up and determine accountability based on reports from the prosecutors and police. There is also an inquiry underway to determine whether the dog was microchipped and registered.