NATIONAL PIT BULL VICTIM AWARENESS DAY - OCTOBER 24, 2015 - TANNER SMITH - KILLED BY FRIEND'S 2 PIT BULLS ON OCTOBER 18, 2015
The first sign that something was wrong was the bloody dog. The animal ran inside its home on Aloha Drive in Vidor, Texas, where Ashley Phillips was visiting a friend.
Phillips’ five-year-old son, Tanner Smith, had been jumping on a trampoline in the fenced-in yard, where the dog had come from and another dog had been.
“When one of the dogs came running in the house and was covered in blood,” Tanner’s aunt, Melinda Greathouse, 28, told INSIDE EDITION. “That’s when my sister ran outside and they found Tanner’s body next to the porch.” The homeowner’s 2 pit bulls had mauled the vivacious kindergartener, who was thought to be playing outside under the supervision of the homeowner. But the man was not there during the attack and no one heard the child scream as he was severely bitten more than one dozen times, including once in an artery in his neck, Greathouse said.
Emergency responders rushed Tanner to a nearby hospital, but he could not be saved.
“His whole left side of his head had a hole in it. His ear was gone. There was a lot of what looked like road rash on his face. Did they drag him?” Greathouse tearfully wondered aloud. “He didn’t cry out. Neighbors were out there around that time and they didn’t hear anything. They just heard my sister cry out.”
Tanner was only two days away from turning six when he was attacked. He wanted a 'Scooby-Doo' themed birthday party to celebrate and his family was happy to oblige the boy who had been through so much.
"Tanner was born with half a heart,” Greathouse said. “He went through several heart surgeries, from the time he was born up until two years ago. He overcame all that. He never let his heart problem stop him. We thought he outlived all of that.”
Tanner was remembered on what would have been his sixth birthday by his classmates at Vidor Elementary School, where students and faculty had a cake in his honor, and at Lollipop Stop Daycare where balloons were released into the air.
“Tanner told them he was turning 21,” his aunt said with a laugh.
Decorations for the Scooby-Doo party were still in his mother’s car days after the mauling.
“Now we’re making funeral arrangements, ordering flowers, picking a cemetery plot. Nobody is supposed to do that for their child,” Greathouse said. “It’s just so hard. We don't know what happened. Was he jumping on the trampoline? Was he running from the dogs? Did he fall? Was that how they got him? If his heart slowed down; we don't know."