CHICAGO (CBS) -- A 5-year-old boy was mauled to death by a dog Monday night in the Washington Heights neighborhood.
The boy was attacked around 9:30 p.m. in the 8900 block of South Carpenter Street. Neighbors called 911 after hearing his mother screaming for help.
"I heard the lady come out the house … and the dog had her son's neck in his mouth, and she said, 'Oh, my God, can someone please help me?'" neighbor Bianca White said.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's office identified the boy as James Nevils III.
Witnesses said the attack started inside a home, and the boy's mother was able to drag the dog and her son outside, and began asking neighbors to help her get the dog off her son.
"I saw that it was a dog had mauled a baby at the neck, and like by his shoulder, and was just attacking him, and the mom was trying to get the dog off the baby, and I was just like, 'Oh my gosh, please, somebody help,'" White said.
Brothers Le Mar and Marquis Lewis were among the half dozen neighbors who grabbed chairs, knives, sticks, and anything else they could get their hands on in a frenzied attempt to beat the dog away from James.
"We grabbed a brick from over there by the tracks, and started hitting the dog with the brick. Then my brother grabbed a pole and started to hit the dog with the pole until the dog died," Marquis Lewis said.
Le Mar Lewis said the dog kept wouldn't let go of the boy even though at least one neighbor was stabbing it with a knife.
"As the dog was getting stabbed, it was still alive, so it was very vicious," he said.
Witnesses said James appeared lifeless even before they tried to get the dog to let him go. The boy was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead.
Neighbors described the dog as a pit bull, and said the dog typically was kept locked up, but its owner apparently was not home at the time of the attack. They said the owner arrived just after the attack, wondering how the dog got loose.
The child's grandfather, James Nevils I, says the little boy and his mother were visiting the home. Police say the dog belonged to the homeowner.
"I was just told that they were in the room with the dog and the dog, attacked," he said.
Nevils says his grandson was a "Very loving and kind little baby. Just that this happened to him, in this terrible way, it's just tearing me up inside," and he thanked the two young boys who tried to save his grandson.
Police said the dog was found dead at the scene when officers arrived.
An autopsy ruled that Nevils died from multiple sharp and blunt force injuries of the head and neck.
Police say the dog owner will not be charged but was cited for a misdemeanor.
Nevils believes the dog's owner should be prosecuted.
"They did not secure their dog properly. If the dog was that vicious, then the dog should not have been allowed to be around children or anyone," he said.
CBS 2 asked Animal Care and Control about any history with the dog and haven't gotten a response.
Newsradio's Steve Miller spoke with Kathy Voight
the president of the Palatine-based Prevent the Bite organization, to weigh in on the general question of dog attacks - and what you should do if you see one in progress.
"Normally they say that you should not put yourself in between your dog, but if it's your child, you have to do something."
And in a frantic situation, it's hard to know what to do to stop an attacking dog.
"A lot of times they say take out the back legs so you can wipe them out that way. Get them off balance and on the ground."
Voigt says using bricks and poles to hit a dog might make the dog bite down harder.
But she says, "at that point you have to do something."
Later she adds, "Once an attack begins, it's too late."
"Not leaving a child alone with a dog, keeping him away from a dog who is sleeping or eating, not allowing him to climb on him or hug and kiss him, try to take anything away from him or tease him - all of these things can keep a tragedy from happening," says Voigt.
For more information, visit preventthebite.org.
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