Family dogs maul two Tennessee children and wound a mother who tried to intervene, according to the family.

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Two family dogs attacked a baby and toddler outside their West Tennessee house, two small children were killed and their mother was severely injured.

According to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the mauling occurred outside the family’s Memphis-area house on Thursday.

Kirstie Bennard, 30, was critically injured as she attempted to intervene in the attack on her 5-month-old son, Hollace Dean, and 2-year-old daughter, Lilly Jane, according to relatives and police.
“After the attack started, she laid her body on top of Lilly’s to try and protect her,” Bennard’s uncle via marriage, Jeff Gibson, told USA TODAY on Saturday. “Both dogs began attacking her when she was lying on Lilly.”

The sheriff’s office reported that the two children were pronounced dead when officials arrived at the home.

Officials said their mother was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.

Gibson said his nephew, Colby Bennard, was not home when the attack occurred.

It was not immediately known what provoked the mauling.

The sheriff’s office’s public relations officer, John Morris, told USA TODAY on Saturday that the case was still under investigation. He did not specify whether or not charges were filed in the case.

Gibson estimated that the mauling lasted roughly ten minutes.

On Facebook, Gibson stated that Bennard had “an inconceivable number of stitches and bite scars all over her entire body, including her face.” On Friday, he also shared a link to fundraising set up by family friends to assist the family.

The family’s canines, two pit bulls, were euthanized at Memphis Animal Services on Thursday.

The family owned the pets, Cheech and Mia, for over eight years without a violent incident, Kelsey Canfield, the mother’s best friend, told Fox News.

“I can promise you those children were her world, and if there were any inkling of danger, she would have never had those dogs near her kids,” Canfield told the outlet. “Those children were everything to them; they just have a long journey ahead.”

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