Dog Rescued 3 Weeks Earlier Mauls Boy, 7, to Death

A 7-year-old Oklahoma boy was mauled to death in his backyard by a dog his family had rescued three weeks earlier, the child's parents said.

James McNeelis and his new rescue dog were playing outside his Kiefer home on the evening of October 20 when his parents attempted to call him in for dinner. They contacted police when he didn't respond.

The Creek County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that officers received a call at about 7:20 p.m., adding that a child's body was found shortly after they arrived at the home.

"Shortly after deputies arrived on scene, a family member located the child on the property," the statement said. "The child was pronounced deceased at approximately 7:35 p.m."

According to KJRH, the child's body was found by his father.

The statement from the sheriff's office said that the rescue dog is currently being held at an animal control facility. A preliminary investigation by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife indicated that the child was attacked by the family dog.

No foul play is suspected in the incident, Creek County Sheriff Bret Bowling told KOCO.

The 7-year-old's family told KJRH that the dog is a Corgi and Shetland Sheepdog mix. Police officers didn't indicate the dog's breed.

The family told the news outlet that the rescue dog hadn't shown any signs of aggression since they brought it home as a stray three weeks earlier.

A GoFundMe page set up by the boy's mother to assist with memorial and cremation expenses states that James was found "mauled in their [family's] back yard." The family has raised some $5,500 in the two days since the page was set up.

In a Facebook post, the boy's father, Michael McNeelis, remembered his son as being "so full of life and light."

"He was going to change the world. And he still is. His light will change the world," he wrote. "My baby boy James was killed. The night of the 20th....We feel alone and lost without him and we're doing all we can but it's just hard. Everything just hurts without my little boy here."

"We've decided we cannot stay here," he added in a separate post. "After the funeral and memorial we need to leave this place. For James, and for us. Please. Donate, share, anything at all. Even if everyone just shares, more people get to see my baby boys happy face."

"It's incredibly painful," he told Newsweek. "We sat outside earlier and the whole world looks a little more gray."

The Creek County Sheriff's Office is working with the Medical Examiner's office in Oklahoma on the case.

Newsweek has contacted Creek County Sheriff's Office for additional comment.

Update 10/27/21, 4:12 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Michael McNeelis and a photograph of James McNeelis.

James McNeelis, 7, of Kiefer, Oklahoma
James McNeelis, 7, was mauled to death by a family rescue dog on October 20, 2021. His parents remembered him as being "so full of life and light." Michael F. McNeelis