DELHI -- A 17-month-old boy was fatally attacked by his baby sitter's pit bull Friday morning, the Merced County Sheriff's Department said.
Authorities also have not released the identities of the child or his baby sitter. It remains unclear whether the baby sitter was related to the child, whose parents were notified of his death.
The boy was mauled by the 65-pound pit bull in the 9000 block of Donovan's Way about 9:30 a.m., Deputy Tom MacKenzie said. The baby sitter called 911, screaming hysterically, and then the line went dead.
Deputies were sent to the home to check on the welfare of the caller. When they arrived, there was blood on the doorstep but no one in the house, MacKenzie said.
Other deputies in the area pulled over the baby sitter's car for driving erratically near Swanson and Merced avenues in Delhi. She stopped the car, jumped out and handed the bloodied baby to Deputy Joey Cardenas, Sheriff Mark Pazin said.
The woman told Cardenas she was baby-sitting the boy when her pit bull and Akita mixed-breed dog attacked the child, biting its throat and dragging him around the yard.
She was able to get the child away from the dog after stabbing it with a fork several times. The woman called 911, but hung up and headed to the hospital with the child.
After the traffic stop, paramedics took the child from the side of the road to Turlock Emanuel Hospital. He was later airlifted to Valley Children's Hospital in Madera, where he died soon after landing, MacKenzie said.
There were no other children at the house during the attack.
Animal control arrived at the home before noon and took the pit bull into custody.
The dog is at the Merced County Animal Shelter and is being held separately from other animals and people there, Merced County spokeswoman Katie Albertson said.
County and sheriff's officials couldn't confirm whether the animal had a history of violent attacks.
No charges have yet been filed. The sheriff's major case unit continued investigations in and around the home late Friday afternoon.
"A 17-month-old toddler is dead -- that's the bottom line. Any death, we're going to investigate to bring closure to that family," Pazin said. "We're going to collect all the facts and submit them to the district attorney. It's a tragedy, but we do have to investigate it."
Cardenas and Deputy Micah Brawley, who also tried to help the child on the side of the road, finished a critical incident debriefing for Merced County officials late Friday afternoon.
The deputies were shook up, Pazin said, but did a great job "trying to save that toddler's life."
The incident marked the second vicious pit bull attack in Delhi this month.
On Oct. 1, a 28-year-old Delhi woman was attacked by a 60-pound pit bull at Shanks Road and Letteau Avenue, less than a mile away from Friday's attack.
The woman was treated for several lacerations at Turlock Emanuel Hospital, and her own dog recovered from a bite to its neck.
The pit bull in that case has since been euthanized.
Albertson said "the health and safety of the general public are foremost in our minds and that will weigh heavily" on any decision on whether to euthanize the animal that attacked on Friday.