5-year-old killed by pit bull

Picture of dog that killed the 5-year-old girl, courtesy Florence County Environmental Services

A 5-year-old was killed by a pit bull at a relative's home on Fork Road off Highway 301 in Effingham about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, according to Florence County Coroner Keith Von Lutcken.

Arianna Jolee Merrbach was killed on the scene, Coroner Von Lutcken said.

The dog was taken from the scene and sent to the Florence County Environmental Services.

A firefighter who responded says the child walked up to the dog, which was on a chain.

Lula Waddell lives next door to where the girl was attacked.

She said animal control officers seized three dogs, including the one that attacked the girl.

The girl grew up with the dogs, Waddell said, and the dogs were usually tied up in the backyard.

Waddell told us the little girl was sweet and friendly.

Merrbach's body will be sent to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for an autopsy.

Investigators are questioning relatives on scene.

Florence County Environmental Services euthanized the pit bull. The dog's body is being sent to the state epidemiology lab to be tested for rabies.

In an earlier version of this story we reported that the child was a boy, based on information received at the time.