Metro Detroit mom wants law changed after dog she was caring for killed 4-year-old son

'Seeing that was my worst nightmare.'
Posted at 5:51 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 06:10:02-05

HAZEL PARK, Mich. (WXYZ)  — A heartbroken mom is asking for change in honor of her son. He died after a dog she took in to help someone out mauled him in their home. She wonders if it could have been prevented if the laws were different.

RELATED: 4-year-old boy mauled to death by dog in Hazel Park

“He was a super happy little boy. He loved firetrucks and school so much,” said Brandi Halterman of her son.

The boy's sister, Brianna Coleman adding, that he was “always up and happy."

Benjamin Cobb, 4, died on Oct. 29, 2019. His mom and sister sat with a helmet that firefighters who tried to save his life gave them in his memory, as they shared their own memories. His violent death still haunts them.

“Seeing that was my worst nightmare," Brandi said. "I see it all the time in my dreams. I see it all the time.

It happened after Brandi says she saw a Facebook post about a homeless woman who was an old friend. She was looking for someone to care for her pit bull while she got back on her feet. Brandi messaged asking about the dog’s temperament and whether it liked children. About 24 hours after she took the dog in, he mauled her 4-year-old. She was in the room when it happened.

While Brianna called 911, Brandi tried to pry the dog’s mouth open. She suffered cuts so severe she needed more than 20 stitches. She grabbed a knife.

“The knife didn’t help," she said. "The scissors didn’t help. Nothing helped."

Police arrived in minutes. They used a stun gun on the dog twice before it finally let go of Ben. Ben later died.

In the year since, Brandi says people have come forward with stories of the dog being aggressive with humans and animals. She wants a law to require disclosure when a dog is vicious or aggressive before it is put in someone else’s care.

“There are no laws about having to disclose that," Brandi said. "It doesn’t even exist. Just like that I took an animal and it is the end of the world and they get nothing. It is OK, apparently in Michigan."

7 Action News reached out to the dog’s owner. She says she was honest about what she knew about the dog. She says the dog quote,”never bit anyone human prior to this incident.”

The people making the allegations did not file police reports. Police say the allegations that the dog was aggressive cannot be proven.

Police say they submitted their investigation to the prosecutor’s office and it was determined there was not evidence of a crime. We are not identifying the owner because she is not criminally charged and the allegations at this point are unsubstantiated.

Police say it is important that people who witness a dog acting viciously report it when it happens, as a documented pattern of aggressive behavior can lead to action from authorities.

“I want people to be safe because of what happened to Ben,” Brandi said.