dog attack
A 1-year-old boy was viciously mauled to death Monday morning by three large dogs in a Duncanville home where he was being babysat with other children.

According to the Duncanville Police Department, officers were called to a home in the 1500 block of Lime Leaf Lane at about 10:40 a.m. after a small child was attacked by a dog.

When they arrived at the home with paramedics, police said they found the toddler unresponsive with severe injuries and immediately began performing life-saving measures on the young victim until medics arrived.

The child was rushed to the Children's Medical Center in Dallas but was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

"This is certainly a tragedy. Our fire personnel and police personnel worked very hard to try to save this child," said Duncanville Interim Police Chief Matthew Stogner.

During a press conference Monday evening, Stogner said the homeowner was babysitting the 1-year-old, and there were three other children inside the home at the time of the attack. Only one child, who was not a resident of the household, was attacked.

Authorities have not revealed the relationship between the toddler and the babysitter.

Investigators said the homeowner owned four dogs. The three dogs involved in the incident are a male dog weighing about 100 pounds and two female dogs weighing around 80 pounds each. Duncanville Animal Control has identified the three dogs as Sheppard mixes.

The dogs were in a confined area and somehow made it inside the home before attacking the little boy, according to police. The woman reportedly jumped in between the dogs and the baby to stop them from attacking the toddler, which caused her to be injured as well.

"She jumped in between and tried to, I guess, tear them apart," said David Trout.

Trout told NBC 5 that his brother was previously married to the woman who owned the home where the attack occurred. Trout said for years, the woman has watched children at her house for family members and neighbors.

"She's a sweetheart. She means well, she's taken care of kids down there forever without any kind of problems," said Trout. "I just hate it for her."

Duncanville police said animal control officials showed up at the home and took possession of the three dogs involved in the attack.

"The three dogs are now in quarantine pending surrender by the owner. If the owner does not surrender the dogs, the Duncanville Police Department will file with the court to have the animals declared Dangerous Dogs. The dogs will remain in quarantine pending the owner's or a court's final decision," Duncanville Police said in a statement on Tuesday.

Investigators are now looking into whether the homeowner was running a daycare out of the home where the attack occurred.

NBC 5 reached out to Texas Health and Human Services to confirm whether or not the address of the home had a registered daycare license.

On Tuesday, HHSC responded to NBC 5 saying the home where the attack took place is "not a licensed child care operation."

The police department added that criminal charges could be filed as a result of the child's death.

"It's still in the air. We're looking at it. Obviously, we're going to work with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and the family of the deceased to figure out our best course of action moving forward," said Stogner.

On Tuesday, an updated news release by Duncanville Police stated that out of respect for the family, the department will not release anything regarding charges pending consultation with the family.

Animal experts say this attack shows the worst-case scenario families can face.

"My concern is reflected in exactly what happened, and that is that, unfortunately, many pet owners are not aware of the fact that dogs and children are not necessarily always safe together," said Dr. Valarie Tynes.

Tynes is a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior with the SPCA. She told NBC 5 that there are steps families can take to keep their small children safe around large dogs.

"One of the things I try to teach them is you never expect that you can leave a child, certainly under two or three, alone and unattended with a dog of any kind," said Tynes.

The vet said parents can use tools like gates to keep dogs away from infants and should watch an animal's body language to ensure it doesn't become agitated around a child.

"Even the best dog, the best-tempered dog, the best socialized, best-trained dog, if it weighs 80-100 pounds, can very easily accidentally harm a child in a split second," said Tynes.

Duncanville police said the three dogs involved in this attack were taken by animal control, and the homeowner will either have to surrender them or face a court order declaring the dogs dangerous.

Experts hoped this tragedy would be a reminder that families have to stay vigilant.

"Any dog can bite," said Tynes. "And the big problem is, of course, the bigger the dog, the more harm it can do."

NBC 5 went to the home and tried to speak with the homeowner about the attack, but they declined to talk to us.