Kiyana McNeal. (Courtesy Sara Arousell)

The dog attack that took place Sunday afternoon on a leafy street in southwestern Michigan happened so quickly — and was so tragic — that neighbors say they can’t get out of their minds what they witnessed.

Rebecca Davis told WWMT News that she heard frantic screaming around 4 p.m. outside her home in Sturgis, about 125 miles west of Detroit.

Rushing outside, Davis told the news station she found her next-door neighbor, Jacey McNeal Wolkins, sobbing hysterically over the body of her 4-year-old daughter, Kiyana McNeal.

Their new dog, which had just been delivered to their home that day, had reportedly attacked the little girl out of nowhere, Davis told the station.

“She said she had just bought the dog and the [seller] probably hadn’t been gone five minutes — and just that fast the dog attacked,” Davis said.

The girl had apparently been trying to give a treat to the dog when it suddenly lunged for her neck, WWMT reported.

McNeal Wolkins tried in vain to stop the attack, getting bitten in the process; she was later taken to a hospital with injuries to her head and hands, according to the Associated Press.

Davis’s husband, Kenneth, told WWMT that the man who sold them the dog rushed back to the home and tried to perform CPR on Kiyana.

“He was really distraught,” Kenneth Davis told the station. “You can imagine it, seemed that he was crying and he was really bad. You can imagine how he would feel.”

Kiyana died from the attack, and the dog, identified as a Doberman Pinscher or Doberman mix, was taken away by animal control, according to the AP.

“It’s something nobody should see. Nobody,” Rebecca Davis added. “You just don’t expect nothing like that to happen to a child.”

The new dog was supposed to be a replacement for “Willow,” another Doberman that Kiyana and her mother used to have before that dog died from cancer about two months ago, other family members told Mlive.com.

Lorie May, Kiyana’s stepmother, told the news site they had found a 3-year-old Doberman for sale in Illinois, and that the man had driven to Michigan to deliver the dog on Sunday.

The man stayed for about 30 to 45 minutes, as Kiyana and her mother became acquainted with the dog, before leaving, May told the site.


Kiyana McNeal. (Courtesy Sara Arousell)

On her Facebook page, May said it was “the worst week of our lives” and posted photos and videos of Kiyana dancing with her father, striking silly poses, reading a book and singing a spirited karaoke rendition of Alicia Keys’s “This Girl Is On Fire.”

“Sing [your] beautiful heart out in Heaven,” May wrote in a video caption. “Share the same joy you gave us.”

Sara Arousell, who told The Washington Post she is a close friend of Kiyana’s mother, described Kiyana as “vibrant, smart, funny and the sweetest little girl you’d ever know” on a GoFundMe page she set up to help cover the girl’s funeral expenses.

The 4-year-old girl was “very passionate about animals and helping them” and her mother had hoped she might become a veterinarian someday, Arousell wrote.

“I have known little Kiyana from birth, and I can personally tell you that she was definitely one of a kind,” Arousell wrote. “I have never seen a mother-daughter relationship with such a bond as these two shared. Kiyana was the light of her mothers life, her reason for being. She is beyond grief stricken right now…”

Arousell said the mother was declining all media interviews but granted permission for photos of Kiyana to be used.

A person who answered the phone for the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday said authorities could not provide details because the case is still an open investigation.

Authorities have not confirmed what will happen to the dog that attacked Kiyana.

Under St. Joseph County animal ordinances, any dog, “licensed or unlicensed, [that] has bitten or attacked a person or another animal,” may be ordered euthanized or otherwise restricted by a judge after a hearing.


Kiyana McNeal (Courtesy Sara Arousell)

A couple dozen towns and cities in Michigan restrict certain dog breeds, but neither Sturgis nor Sherman Township are among them, according to dogsbite.org, a site that keeps track of such restrictions.

Only one city in Michigan, Harper Woods, lists the Doberman Pinscher among its “breeds suspected as potentially dangerous.”

Those breeds constitute an unusually large group, according to a Harper Woods city ordinance:

While not breed specific, the following breeds of dogs shall be considered suspect as vicious and potentially dangerous: Akita, Alaskan Malamute, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Bull Mastiff, Chow Chow, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher, English Bull Terrier, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Presa Canario, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Wolf Hybrid and/or any mixed breed of the above.

Categorizing certain breeds as “dangerous” itself is a controversial move. Those who oppose such classifications, which often are applied to pit bulls, argue that any type of dog can be dangerous, depending on the circumstances.

This post has been updated.

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