The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office has completed their investigation into the death of Ryan Hazel and has ruled the incident as an accident.
Their report is as follows:
-At approximately 7:59 pm on May 9, 2019, Dighton Police received a 911 call that the body of 14 year old Ryan Hazel was found at the rear of 2477 Maple Swamp Road in Dighton, MA.
-2477 Maple Swamp Road is a sprawling property with a home and other buildings. Numerous dogs and several different types of animals lived on the property.
-At approximately 6:25 pm, Ryan Hazel arrived at the home to care for animals on the property while the homeowner was away. By agreement with the homeowner, Ryan had been doing this work for approximately one year. He was driven to the property by his grandmother.
-Ryan’s job typically took 30-45 minutes. Ryan’s grandmother remained in the car while Ryan tended to his duties. After an unusually long period of time, Ryan’s grandmother called Ryan’s mother, who was out of state. Ryan’s mother then got in touch with a neighbor, who made his way to the rear of the property where he discovered Ryan’s body.
-The neighbor found Ryan suffering from traumatic injuries to several areas of his body and called 911. Both the neighbor and first responders utilized CPR and other life saving measures. Despite these efforts, Ryan was declared deceased.
-The owner of the property was in Boston while this occurred. He returned home when he was contacted by police.
-The neighbor, who was familiar with the dogs on the property, told law enforcement that he saw four dogs loose on the property when he arrived on scene. The dogs were later secured by the neighbor in the basement – three Belgian Malinois and one Dutch Shepard.
-These four dogs and numerous other dogs on the property were all removed from the home and held by law enforcement as the investigation proceeded.
-Through a follow-up investigation, it has been determined that a total of five dogs participated in the Ryan Hazel’s death – the four original dogs and an additional Belgian Mallinois.
-The fifth dog was quarantined at Dighton Animal Rescue. All five dogs were quarantined once law enforcement became involved, and public safety was not at risk.
-Although there were no eye witnesses to the incident, investigators spoke with numerous witnesses familiar with the property and the dogs in question.
-There is no surveillance video on the property.
-The owner of the dogs, Scott Dunmore, was cooperative during the investigation. Mr. Dunmore did not follow the appropriate licensing requirements for these dogs. However, he did obtain the appropriate vaccinations for these dogs.
-The scene was documented through photographs and was forensically processed by the MA State Police Crime Laboratory.
-Ryan’s phone was also examined. His last activity was at approximately 6:22 pm. There was no suspicious activity on his phone.
-All evidence shows that Ryan had experience caring for dogs and these five dogs in particular.
-Medical Examiner Katherine Lindstrom determined the cause of death to be multiple canine bite wounds and the manner of death to be accident.
-Through the work of the Dighton Police, the MA State Police, and the MA State Police Laboratory investigators are confident that only these five dogs were involved in Ryan’s passing.
-Forensic testing revealed four dogs were involved in the attack and subsequent investigation determined that a fifth dog was also outside and involved in the attack.
-The investigation further revealed that all remaining dogs on the property were locked inside at the time of the attack and had no involvement
-There is no evidence of foul play.
Excluding other Causes
-No evidence supports that any of the other dogs on the property were involved in Ryan’s death.
-Investigators spoke to officials at the Division of Fish & Wildlife and other experts in the field to discuss the possibility of wild animals being the culprit.
-No evidence supports the involvement of wild animals in Ryan Hazel’s death.
-On May 17, 2019 Scott Dunmore, through a written waiver, waived his right to a hearing on the euthanization of the five dogs.
-On May 22, 2019, the Dighton Board of Selectmen voted to euthanize the five dogs.
-On May 23, 2019, the five dogs were humanely euthanized by a veterinarian.
-There were numerous other dogs on the property that were not involved in Ryan’s death.
-Some of these dogs were boarding on the property. These dogs have been reunited with their owners.
-Some dogs have been placed in foster homes. Other dogs have been returned to the homeowner, per the municipality.
-Ryan Hazel passed away after being attacked by five dogs – one Dutch Shephard (two years old) and four Belgian Malinois (three of whom were eight months old, and one of whom was four years old).
-After a thorough review of Ryan’s cell phone data activity, it has been determined that the attack likely occurred sometime between 6:35 and 6:45 pm. The sequence of events and the cause of the attack is not known and will likely never be known.
-Other potential causes of Ryan’s death have been excluded.
-There is no evidence of foul play in this case. The owner of the dogs was cooperative throughout the investigation. There is no basis for criminal charges to issue in this case. This was sadly a terrible tragedy.
-Ryan was experienced in caring for dogs; these five dogs in particular. He was devoted to caring for the dogs in a kind and humane manner. No evidence points to Ryan’s actions or conduct contributing at all to cause his death.