Residents in the Baffin Island hamlet of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, are rallying around the family of a four-year-old boy who was mauled to death by three loose dogs this week.
Residents in the community of about 1,325 have raised more than $7,000 to help Sabock Akpalialuk's family fly their relatives to Pangnirtung for the boy's funeral, which has yet to be scheduled.
RCMP say Sabock was playing alone outside around 11 a.m. ET Monday when he was attacked by three sled dogs that had broken free of their chains nearby.
Pangnirtung coroner David Kooneeliusee told CBC News he arrived at the scene while the attack was underway.
"What I did was kind of looked at it clearly to make sure if he was alive or not, but I could tell that it was a lifeless body," he said Friday.
"So instead of going directly to the body, I kind of scared off the dogs."
Kooneeliusee said he then ran to the local fish plant and asked workers to call the RCMP.
Afterward, he said he grabbed a rifle and went back to the scene to destroy the dogs, which were part of a local sled-dog team.
Police found the boy unresponsive at the scene. He was declared dead at the Pangnirtung health centre a short time later. RCMP and hamlet officials continue to investigate.
A blizzard on Thursday postponed flights to Pangnirtung, so the funeral will not take place until after the boy's relatives arrive in the community.
'He was helpless'
The dogs' owner has been identified as Manasa Evic, a respected Pangnirtung resident who was once mayor.
CBC News has learned that at the time of the attack, Evic was travelling to Ottawa for open-heart surgery. Sources say he was devastated by what happened.
"The dogs were fed well, they were being looked after well. It's the pack and the team, they'll protect each other," Kooneeliusee said.
"I just really feel very sorry for the family and of the poor child. He was helpless — he was playing at the wrong time and he was playing in the wrong place."
While sled dogs have long been an essential part of Inuit life, attacks by loose dogs have been a concern in northern communities.
"It does bother me for what happened to the kid in Pang. I guess the owners of those dogs should be responsible for their dogs," said Iqaluit resident Moses Aronsen, 17, who was attacked by a dog when he was a three-year-old in the High Arctic community of Resolute Bay.
Aronsen said he was playing outside the local church when he was attacked, and was unresponsive when his parents found him.
While he said he doesn't remember much about the attack, he still has a scar on his face where the dog bit him.