LOWELL, Mass. (AP) – A 7-year-old girl was hospitalized in critical condition on Saturday after she was mauled by a pit bull at a house of a neighbor who breeds bulldogs.

The dog attacked the girl just after 9 a.m. while the girl was at the Iowa Street home of Lisa and Todd Fratus. Police Capt. William Taylor said the victim and a friend were playing with the dogs in the cellar when they tried to put one of the dogs back into its pen.

“That’s when the dog turned on them,” he said.

The girl, identified by Lowell Police as Naomi Libareas, was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital with “massive, life-threatening” injuries to her neck, abdomen and arm. A hospital spokeswoman said Libareas remained in critical condition Saturday night.

Lowell’s animal control officer euthanized the pit bull. Police found four more adult bulldogs, 14 bulldog puppies, 12 cats and birds and fish at the house, which city health inspectors ordered vacated because of the conditions.

Denise Montiero, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services, said due to the conditions in the home the agency took custody of four children living in the home and placed them with relatives.

A call to the Lisa Fratus for comment was not immediately returned Saturday.

The Fratus’ run a bulldog breeding business called Fratus’ American Bulldogs, according to their Web site.

The site advertises their dogs as “The Best Bullies in New England.” It includes pictures of the dogs with children, a memorial to dead bulldogs and advice on how to find a good breeder.

A neighbor of the victim and dog owner told WHDH-TV that the girl’s mother is good friends with the dog’s owner.

“She sleeps over their house all the time and nothing has ever happened,” said Kimberly Renaud.

AP-ES-09-04-04 2159EDT

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