A 4-year-old boy’s right hand was completely severed after he was attacked and bit by a neighbor’s dog, according to a local news report.

According to police, the young child was reportedly playing in the backyard of his Utah home. The boy’s yard was separated from the neighbors home by a 6 foot tall solid vinyl fence. Two dogs, both of the husky breed, lived in the adjacent home and were contained inside the fence. The boy’s father was in the house at the time of the incident.

The catastrophic bite by the husky occured when the boy apparently put a sock over his hand and put his hand under the fence to catch the dogs’ attention. The dogs could not see the boy, as the fence was solid, but only the sock covered hand that went through the small opening between the fence and the ground. This caused one of the dogs to bite at the sock, which ripped off the boy’s hand from his arm.

The boy’s father was already comforting the boy and had started initial care to stop the bleeding by wrapping the child’s arm in a towel, when emergency crews arrived at the scene. The boy was taken by helicopter to Primary Children’s Hospital, located about 30 miles away. Emergency responders tried in earnest to find the boy’s severed hand, with the hope that doctors could reattach it, they were unsuccessful. Police believe that the dog ingested it.

At the hospital, doctors were forced to amputate the boy’s hand along with several inches of his lower forearm. The boy is expected to remain in the hospital for at least several days. Although authorities were aware of which dog was the biter, Davis County Animal Control nevertheless took both the animals in custody, whereupon they were put into quarantine. What will ultimately happen to them is not clear.

Battalion Chief, Paramedic and Layton City PIO Jason Cook, a 15 year veteran on the force, said this was the most severe dog bite he had seen. He added that the situation was particularly sad and tragic since the “child was playing in his backyard as many children do, and the next door neighbor had their dogs contained.” The situation, while indeed catastrophic, is not exactly legally clear cut because an argument perhaps may be made that the dogs were provoked. While the law may vary by state, according to Ankin Law Office, many laws are similar to the Illinois Animal Control Act which clearly states that, “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.” The circumstances of this particular case have not yet been determined and remain to be seen as the case unfolds.