FIRST ON FOX: The family dogs that killed two young children in Tennessee on Wednesday and left their mother with serious 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, 5-month-old Hollace Dean and 2-year-old Lilly Jane, from their home in rural Shelby County outside Memphis.
“That attack lasted longer than any of us could have ever imagined,” the devastated mother’s best friend, Kelsey Canfield, told Fox News Digital
“I can promise you those kids were her world, and if there was any sense of danger, she would never have had those dogs near her kids,” the heartbroken mom’s best friend, Kelsey Canfield, told Fox News Digital. “Those kids were everything to them and they just have a really long journey ahead of them.”
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 of us could have ever imagined,” she added.
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Canfield was with Kirstie Jane Bennard’s sister on Friday and they were on their way to Regional One Health in Memphis to visit her. Her condition was upgraded from critical to stable.
“She was confused at first. She’s awake now and she’s ready [of what happened]Canfield said.
The children’s father, Colby Bennard, who works as a parts manager at Bumpus Harley-Davidson, was not home at the time of the attack. The father had shared pictures of Cheech and Mia on Facebook, calling them “house lions”.
Authorities did not say why the family pet viciously turned on the children, who are the couple’s only children.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the tragic killings, said the pit bulls were euthanized.
The police and fire department responded on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. 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 “adored each other.”
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Kirstie Jane Bennard’s sister, who did not give her name, asked for privacy while the family grieves. “It was not only a loss for my sister, but also for me,” she said, crying. “It was my niece and nephew.”
The community is reeling from the horrific attack.
“To say I’m at a loss for words and my heart is and has been since finding out is an understatement,” friend Stephanie Chipman wrote on Facebook over a series of photos of Kirstie Jane Bennard and her family.
“Just in absolute shock. Praying so hard to the good Lord to hold you and your family and help you get 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 United States were mauled by pit bulls in 2020 — more than any other breed of dog, according to non-profit dogsbite.org.