A 2-year-old boy was fatally mauled by several pit bulls late Wednesday afternoon inside a rowhouse in the city's Port Richmond section, police said.
Around 5:15 p.m., police responded to reports that a child was being attacked by dogs inside a two-story rowhouse in the 3000 block of Agate Street, said Chief Inspector Scott Small.
When the officers arrived, "they could see through the front door … a child being attacked" by pit bulls, Small said.
"The child was bleeding heavily. The child was unresponsive," he added.
"Some of the dogs charged the officers. The officers fired shots at these dogs that were attacking them," Small said. Two dogs were killed and one wounded, police said.
The officers then took the boy outside to a medic unit, which transported him to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, where he was pronounced dead at 6:05 p.m.
"The child had serious injuries, severe injuries, to his head, face, torso, both arms and both legs," Small said.
There were five dogs in the house at the time, but it was unclear if they were all involved in the attack, Small said.
There also was an aunt of the boy, a male teenager, and another person in the house at the time, Small said. They were not injured, police said.
The officer-involved shooting was being investigated, as were the circumstances that led to the boy's death, "to see if possible charges will be filed against the adult or caretaker that possibly allowed this to take place," Small said.
Cell phone video showed officers standing outside the metal gate style door and firing into the house before entering. Officers fired seven shots, police said.
An officer from the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia removed the dead dog, which was lying just inside the front door. The officer also carried out what appeared to be an injured dog from inside the rowhouse, which stood out on the block with its yellow front.
Some neighbors tried to intervene but couldn't stop the attack.
Jason Rash, 42, rushed to the front door and briefly stepped inside, he said.
"I was trying to get the dogs off the baby, yelling to get them to come to me, to ease it up, but they weren't getting off the baby," Rash said.
He said he saw the toddler once before, when the boy was brought to his house by a sister for a free lunch which Rash distributes as part of a city summer program.
Jennifer Tart, 39, and some other neighbors complained that responding officers stood at the front door for several minutes before taking action.
"Just shoot the dog. There's a baby in there," Tart said.
Small said he had no knowledge of a delay in the police response.