A 3-year-old was badly injured by a pit bull that bystanders ultimately had to shoot dead in West Alabama Thursday morning, police told the Thread.

Tonnie Jones, the chief of police in Aliceville, Alabama, said officers were made aware of a dog attack at a home in the area just before 7 a.m. Thursday.

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Jones said a 3-year-old had been attacked by a pit bull in the yard of a home on 5th Street Northwest. The dog reportedly held on to the toddler's head and severely injured the child before family and neighbors could intervene.

Jones said several attempts were made to separate the animal from the 3-year-old, but ultimately a bystander fatally shot the dog to save the child.

The victim was rushed first to the Pickens County Medical Center, then to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, and finally on to Children's of Alabama hospital in Birmingham.

The emergency vehicle carrying the young child into Tuscaloosa requested and received a police escort because it was passing through Northport and Tuscaloosa at the height of morning traffic.

Jones said the 3-year-old is expected to survive but suffered extreme injuries to their head in the attack.

Jones said the animal was not wild, and had gotten off its chain or out of a fence.

"I would just say if anyone in our area has a vicious dog, you need to make sure they're put up or chained up or on their appropriate leash," Chief Jones said. "If you live near someone who has a vicious dog and they aren't being kept like they need to be, you should contact law enforcement so we can go out and talk to the owners or even file charges."

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