(HOUMA, LA.) - A four-year-old girl died Tuesday night after she was attacked by a pit bull named Niko, according to the Houma Police Department.
The attack happened around 7 p.m. at a residence in the Highland Apartment Complex.
Animal control officers removed a second pit bull, a female, from the residence. A police spokesperson said there are no indications that Niko was being abused or used for fighting. The female is currently being held at the Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter and officers suspect she may be in heat.
Officers counselors will be available for the officers who responded to the scene, describing it as "horrific."
The Houma Police Department said Mia Derouen, 4, died from the facial and head injuries she suffered in the mauling at the Houma Highlands Apartments in Houma around 7 p.m. She would have celebrated her birthday next week. Her mother was identified as Megan Touchet, 27.
Police said the large, 2-year-old pit bull named Niko attacked Derouen inside the apartment and when Touchet fought the dog off the child it attacked her. They added Touchet was able to barricade herself and her daughter inside a bedroom.
Investigators said Touchet was able to hand her injured daughter through a window to medical personnel outside and Derouen was rushed to Terrebonne General Medical Center, where she later died. Touchet was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries.
According to authorities, the pit bull was running around the apartment "acting in a very vicious manner," so officers killed the dog to prevent any further injuries. Officials say Niko was 130 lbs. and had to be shot a total of 12 times, twice inside the apartment and 10 more times outside. Officers say the dog would just not give up.
Another pit bull found in the apartment, 6-month-old Khloe, was taken away by animal control workers. They said she may be in heat. Khloe is being held at an animal shelter for further observation.
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