The three surviving children of the woman whose three-year-old son was mauled to death by dogs in her own home, have been taken away by authorities in British Columbia.
- INDEPTH: Dangerous dogs
Sherri Fontaine says the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development has decided her children cannot live with her because they are in danger.
Fontaine was sleeping in her home in Maple Ridge, at the time the dogs attacked her son Cody, on Monday morning.
She says she believes the little boy got up early and let the dogs - three Rottweilers and a collie - out of the locked basement.
In a highly emotional scene outside a Port Coquitlam courthouse on Thursday, Fontaine family members said they didn't want the children returned to their home.
Clutching a framed portrait of the smiling toddler, Cody's 18-year-old stepsister expressed her grief at the loss of the child. The teen and other members of the family have had their names protected by court order.
She said she's concerned about Cody's three young siblings.
The other children have been in the care of an older relative, since the tragedy. Another extended family member said the surviving children are trying to heal after being the ones who found their little brother dead after the attack.
Sherri Fontaine has refused to talk to media. She has a history of criminal convictions involving drug possession and drug trafficking. She's served jail time and has been barred from owning firearms.
Outside court the dead boy's grandmother said even though Sherri Fontaine loves her children dearly, she should not get them back for now.
"Until this is all over the kids are better off where they're being put now. I'm not putting blame, but to try and deal with three little ones, along with her own grief, this way the little ones are going to get the counselling that they need."
A judge has ruled the surviving children will remain where they are at least until their mother is able to hire a lawyer and make a second court appearance in January.
The RCMP says it is still investigating the mauling and has not yet made a decision on whether to lay charges.
Two of the four dogs have been put down.