Father of 9-year-old Detroit dog mauling victim argued with owner about dogs last week, family says

Emma Hernandez killed in vicious dog attack

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DETROIT – The father of a 9-year-old girl who was mauled to death by three pit bulls in Detroit got into an argument with the owner of the dogs about them roaming in the area, according to family members.

NEW: The owner of the dogs is charged with murder

Emma Hernandez, 9, was riding her bicycle Monday in the area of Central Avenue and Smart Street in Southwest Detroit when three pit bulls escaped from a neighbor's yard, police said.

Family members, police officers and medical personnel have been affected by Hernandez's death.

Emma Hernandez, 9, was killed Aug. 19, 2019 by a pack of dogs in Southwest Detroit. (WDIV)

"She was a very happy child and she is going to be very, very missed," said Claudia Stapleton, Hernandez's aunt. "This was her neighborhood. She should be able to play and do what every kid does -- walk around, ride their bikes. They shouldn't be afraid to be in their own neighborhood."

Stapleton said Hernandez's father, Armando, battled with the owner of the dogs the week before the attack.

"He actually had an argument with them (being) properly fenced and not roaming about," Stapleton said. "They didn't do anything."

The attack happened in an alley behind the Hernandez family home, police said.

Emma Hernandez

"It just can't be real," Stapleton said. "Things like this are easily avoided. Why can't people take measures to take care of their pets?"

Detroit police sent a warrant package to prosecutors late in the day, so if there are charges against the dogs' owner, they likely won't come until Wednesday.

The owner was taken into custody Monday night by Detroit police.

Animal Control officials said they intend to euthanize the dogs.

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About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.