(CNN) — At the tender age of five, surviving a tornado a mile wide is, at the least, traumatizing. Being separated from mom and dad after that, and living in a strange house, is enough to make a little boy break down and cry.
Through the eyes of a dog, possessive of its owner, a stranger in the house screaming at a family member can look like a threat that must be dealt with.
The two scenarios cruelly collided over the weekend when a 150-lb bull mastiff fatally mauled a 5-year-old boy, puncturing his head and neck.
Lynn Geiling had taken the little boy into her Jessieville, Arkansas, home after he and his family survived a monster tornado that in May waylaid Moore, Oklahoma. His parents had returned home, 200 miles away, to gather up the pieces of their lives.
Sunday, something upset the child and he threw a temper tantrum, the country sheriff's office said.
Geiling went over to calm him, but the screaming upset another family member -- Geiling's dog.
The dog probably thought the boy was attacking its owner, said Garland County Deputy Scott Hinojosa.
It lunged for him.
Geiling fought to unlock the dog's jaws from around the boy while calling to her husband for help, the sheriff's office said.
She pried the dog loose, but the damage was done.
The couple rushed the bleeding boy to meet an ambulance, which took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Authorities did not release his name.
The dog ran away but was later captured. No charges have been filed against Geiling, Hinojosa said.
"I am just really sorry that this happened in Garland County to people who have undergone such tragedy. It makes your heart bleed for them," Garland County Justice of the Peace Mary Bournival told CNN affiliate KATV.
She was close to tears. As justice of the peace, she has seen too many maulings by dogs.
She keeps a collection of gruesome photos of people with flesh torn away from their arms, legs and faces by "bully" breeds, as she calls them.
"I would say just in the last two months we've had at least seven attacks involving these dogs," she said.
Her county has some of the most relaxed laws in the state, she said. "We don't even have a simple leash law."
She wants that to change.
But that would be too little too late for the little boy and his family.