It was just before 7 p.m. on Friday, when Jeremiah Rivera’s frantic father ran into the street outside of the family’s New York home, screaming for help.
5-year-old Jeremiah was critically injured after being mauled by a pit bull inside his home.
"His dad was really emotional," said Sincere Lawton, a neighbor. "We heard a yell, 'Oh, my God, oh my God, oh my God!' He was like, scared, he was panicking. He called the cops and said, 'The dog got my son's face.' His son came out with blood all over his face. So young, 5 years old."
Jeremiah was reportedly rushed to the nearest hospital in cardiac arrest before being transferred to Long Island Jewish Hospital.
Two pit bull terriers believed to be involved in the vicious attack were seized from the apartment.
Jeremiah’s father later told authorities that he had fallen asleep that night after taking a prescribed pain pill.
He awoke to the sound of a child screaming his name.
When Jeremiah’s father rushed into the other room, he found his little boy face down on the floor.
While it’s unclear exactly what happened Friday night, Jeremiah’s uncle, Mohammad Bostic, told authorities that his nephew took the brunt of the attack to protect his younger siblings.
"When the dog got loose, he jumped in front of them," Bostic said.
Jeremiah is currently in critical condition after losing a lot of blood and suffering tragic injuries to his face, but his family says he is a hero.
"He's sedated with medication, he's sleeping a lot, he's going to have to start the process of trying to figure out how they will reshape his face," adds Bostic.
Bostic told local news outlets that the dogs had never been violent before, but they were often kept in cages around the other children.
"They were always in the cage - they were always in the cage. The only time they came out of the cage is when we would walk them," he adds.
Sadly, Rivera’s two younger children were taken by authorities after the attack, and he is now fighting for custody of them.
After ABC 7 New York shared the story online, several commenters shamed the father for leaving his children alone while he slept.
“Imagine sedating yourself with a controlled substance and leaving your 3 children under the age of 5 alone in an apartment with animals so savage they need to be caged. And all these idiots are sticking up for the animals when there is a human baby here who's face was eaten. This world is in rough shape,” Kelly Mccormack Vassallo commented.
“If he had to keep them in a cage its obvious they shouldn't have been in the same house as these kids to begin with!! Prayers for this little boys speedy recovery,” Jessica Maillet added.