DIGHTON — It was part of the teenager’s routine for the past year: caring for several dogs when their owner was unavailable in a quiet family-oriented neighborhood in this town southwest of Boston.
But on Thursday evening, “something went very wrong,’’ authorities said, and the 14-year-old was mauled to death by the dogs.
Ryan Hazel of Rehoboth, a student at the Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School in Taunton, was killed in a “terrible tragedy,” Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said Friday.
Authorities found 11 dogs on the property, including four running free . The others were in kennels inside several buildings, Quinn said.
It was unclear what prompted the apparent attack, he said.
The teen and his grandmother had arrived in the 2400 block of Maple Swamp Road about 6 p.m. Thursday so he could take care of the animals.
She remained in her vehicle, waiting for Hazel to complete a task that usually took him no longer than 45 minutes. When he failed to show up around that time, the grandmother called his parents, who were out of town, for help. The parents called a neighbor, Quinn said.
The neighbor found the boy suffering from injuries that Quinn described as “very traumatic.”
“He tended to the boy and tried to help him as best he could,’’ Quinn said. “But his injuries were too severe. And he was pronounced deceased at the scene by first responders.”
The property owner was identified as Scott Dunmore, Quinn said. Dunmore, 49, owns the four dogs found running free: three Belgian Malinois and one Dutch shepherd, Quinn said.
Quinn described the dogs as average-sized. “They are not small animals,” he said, adding that not all were licensed. “They were not malnourished.”
All 11 dogs were taken off the property and are under quarantine and in the custody of Rehoboth animal control, said Gregg Miliote, spokesman for the Bristol district attorney. Their fate will be up to town officials.
Dunmore could not be reached for comment. A website for a dog trainer named Scott Dunmore states that he has been training dogs professionally for 15 years.
“Scott Dunmore has the knowledge, hands-on experience and teaching ability to help dog owners in a multitude of scenarios,” according to the site.
Quinn said Dunmore was in Boston Thursday night, but returned to Dighton at the request of police, and has cooperated with the investigation.
Dighton officials said there was a fire in the home on the property in February, and the fire had been the only request for public safety agencies at the house. Dunmore was living in a trailer while the fire damage was repaired, Quinn said.
“There does not appear to be any foul play,’’ Quinn said Friday. “This clearly was a terrible tragedy for the victim, his family, his friends, and the town. My heart goes out to them.”
Quinn said investigators are not sure at what point during an approximately two-hour window the boy was attacked, nor was there an answer to the question of why the animals mauled the teenager, or which of the four dogs found running free participated.
Neighbors on Maple Swamp Road remained shaken Friday.
One resident, who did not want her name published, said she first found out about the attack when she went on Facebook around 10:30 p.m. Thursday. When she looked outside and saw police lights, she was shocked.
“I didn’t hear anything,” she said by phone. “It’s a very quiet neighborhood.”
She described her street as a “family neighborhood” where children play outside all the time. There are ballfields right down the street.
“It’s just bizarre,” she said.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.5 million people in the United States were bitten by dogs last year. About 800,000 needed medical attention.
Hazel was studying for a career in providing direct care to patients as a certified nursing assistant. He was in the community health program at the 1,250-student high school located in Taunton.
The school activated its crisis response team for students, staff, and parents, according to a statement from Superintendent Alexandre Magalhaes.
“Our leadership team will make every effort to provide assistance to our students, families and fellow employees as needed,’’ he said in the statement.
“Any student who may need or want help or who is scared, confused or struggling to process this tragedy should know that help is available,” he added.
Danny McDonald of the Globe staff contributed to this story. Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@
globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.