FIRST ON FOX: The family dogs who mauled two Tennessee toddlers to death Wednesday and left their mother with severe injuries had never been aggressive, a friend told Fox News Digital.
Kirstie Jane Bennard, 30, was seriously injured when she tried to pull the family’s two pit bulls off 5-month-old Hollace Dean and 2-year-old Lilly Jane at their home in rural Shelby County outside Memphis.
“That attack lasted longer than any one of us could have ever imagined,” the devastated mom’s best friend, Kelsey Canfield, told Fox News Digital
“I can promise you those children were her world, and if there was any inkling of danger, she would have never had those dogs near her kids,” the shattered mom’s best friend, Kelsey Canfield, told Fox News Digital. “Those children were everything to them, and they just have a really long journey ahead.”
The family had the pets, Cheech and Mia, for more than eight years without a violent incident, Canfield said.
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“That attack lasted longer than any one of us could have ever imagined,” she added.
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Canfield was with Kirstie Jane Bennard’s sister Friday, and they were headed to Regional One Health in Memphis to visit her. Each condition was upgraded from critical to stable.
“She was initially confused. She’s awake now, and she’s aware [of what happened],” said Canfield.
The children’s father, Colby Bennard, who works as a parts manager at Bumpus Harley-Davidson, wasn’t home at the time of the attack. The father had shared photos of Cheech and Mia on Facebook, calling them “house lions.”
Authorities did not say why the family pets viciously turned on the children, who are the couple’s only kids.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the tragic killings, said the pit bulls were euthanized.
Police and the fire department responded Wednesday at 3:30 pm to the two-story home near Shelby Forrest State Park, and the children were pronounced dead at the scene.
“They were perfect, they were beautiful,” Canfield said of the children, adding that they “worshiped each other.”
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Kirstie Jane Bennard’s sister, who did not provide her name, asked for privacy while the family grieves. “It was not just a loss to my sister but to me as well,” she said, weeping. That was my niece and nephew.”
The community is reeling from the horrific attack.
“To say that I am at a loss for words and my heart is and has been breaking since I found out is an understatement,” wrote friend Stephanie Chipman on Facebook above a series of photos of Kirstie Jane Bennard and her family.
“Just in absolute shock. Praying so so so hard for the good Lord to hold you and your family tight and help you make your way through this. Here for you always and love you so much!” the post continued.
The children’s autopsies are still pending.
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At least 33 people in the US were mauled to death in 2020 by pit bulls – more than any other dog breed, according to non-profit dogsbite.org.
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