Update: Pit bull that attacked girl caught running free twice

The pit bull that attacked a 3-year-old girl this morning was no stranger to Beaufort County Animal Control, according to Toni Lytton, the agency’s director.

Lytton said county animal control officers have picked up and impounded the 2-year-old dog twice within the last two months for running at large.

“We’ve had the dog before and it never showed any signs of aggression,” Lytton said. “I’m not sure what happened.”

Both times, the pitbull’s owner paid extra to reclaim the dog, which was not neutered and likely used for breeding, Lytton said.

The Port Royal toddler was taken to the hospital this morning with severe injuries after being attacked by a pit bull in Port Royal, according to authorities.

A 3-year-old girl and her baby-sitter were walking down Wayside Lane at about 7:50 a.m. when the dog emerged from a nearby dirt road and attacked the child, said Staff Sgt. Andre Massey, Port Royal Police Department spokesman.

When an officer arrived moments later, the dog had the girl by the head, and the baby-sitter was trying frantically to pull the dog off her, Massey said.

The officer kicked the dog several times until it released the child from its jaws, Massey said.

The dog again attempted to attack the child, leaving the officer no choice but to shoot and kill it, Massey said.

“It wasn’t going to stop attacking that girl,” Massey said. “Had the officer not gotten there when he did, I don’t think the child would have survived. It was pretty horrific.”

The girl, whose name was not released, was transported to Beaufort Memorial Hospital with “very severe injuries,” Massey said.

Port Royal police plan to charge the dog’s owner, whom officers have yet to identify, Massey said.

Officials from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control planned to pick up the dog’s body today and test itl for rabies,Lytton said.