WILMINGTON, Del. -- It was a great day to play outside, and that's what Tara Haith Coates says her 4-year-old grandson – Kasii Haith – was doing Wednesday afternoon at the home of a family friend.
One minute, Kasii was chasing three dogs. The next, they were chasing him. They went back and forth like that for a while.
The game went terribly wrong, though, when Kasii's mother, Kyiesha, left the yard to make a quick trip to the bathroom. She told her boy she would be right back.
When she looked out the window, she saw Kasii in the jaws of the dogs. She fought them, along with two men who were working at the house who beat the dogs with PVC pipe. But Kasii could not be saved.
Thursday, friends and family mourned the boy at the Camden home where he lived with his mother and great grandmother. They embraced, wept, prayed.
Coates wept as she shared her daughter's account of the attack, which occurred around 4 p.m.
"She fought for him," Coates said. "Just know that my daughter fought for her son. She loved him and he was so excited about having a baby brother and sister."
Kyiesha Haith, 24, is expecting twins in July. She remained in Kent General Hospital on Thursday, recovering from bite wounds her mother said required 20 stitches.
The dogs – identified as pit bulls by authorities – were euthanized Thursday. Their remains will be tested for rabies at the state Division of Public Health's laboratory.
Capt. Sherri Warburton, director of animal control for Delaware Animal Control and Care at the First State Animal Center and SPCA, said the dogs were not restrained, had not been vaccinated, spayed or neutered.
In Kent County, dogs must be on a leash or responsive to voice commands, Warburton said.
But these dogs had been on the prowl Tuesday, according to Gary Bodine, who lives nearby.
Bodine said he was at a relative's house across the street when the dogs ran onto the front porch of that home. They then crossed the road and entered the property of another Bodine relative. Bodine said he jumped into his golf cart to warn the residents there.
He tried to shoo the dogs away, but they stared at him, undaunted, then trotted around the property "like they were hunting," he said, into the woods and back toward their home.
"I know it's against the law, but I'd like to have shot 'em," he said. "If I did, that boy would still be alive. They were just so evil-looking."
Bodine said the dogs belonged to a new neighbor.
Animal control officers went to the home Wednesday morning, responding to a complaint, Warburton said, but no one was home and there was no sign of the dogs.
Later that day, Staff Sgt. David Hulse was the first animal control officer on the scene. Hulse said the dogs' owner had them in the garage by then, and they showed no aggression toward him or others. The owner surrendered the dogs to be euthanized, he said.
"She said she would never be able to trust the dogs again," he said.
Warburton said no charges have been filed, but the investigation by her officers and Delaware State Police continues.
Wednesday, a "dangerous dogs" bill, which clarifies when an animal control constable or dog warden can impound a dog that is suspect of being dangerous or potentially dangerous, was reported out of the House of Representatives' Housing and Community Affairs Committee. The bill now awaits action on the House floor.
Contributing: Robin Brown and Jon Offredo of The Journal News