A pack of stray dogs mauled an eight-year-old boy to death in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Thursday.

Police said the victim, identified as Santhosh, returned home from school Thursday evening and went out to play in a nearby ground. When he did not return home until late evening, his parents and neighbors launched a search for him. The villagers heard some dogs howl and headed toward a field only to find the canines “tearing into an unconscious boy.”

Speaking to local website the News Minute, a police officer said, “It is the mating season [for dogs] and at first the villagers thought the howling was normal. Only after a few minutes did they realized that the howling was strange and decided to check the source of the noise.”

“They came upon into a pack of dogs tearing into an unconscious boy in the middle of a field nearby. They chased the dogs and called a doctor from the village to check on him. But the doctor told them that the boy had already died and that he had bite marks all over his body including in his neck,” the officer said.

An autopsy was conducted which confirmed that the boy had died of dog bite. Following the autopsy, the body was handed over to his family. Meanwhile, a case of unnatural death was registered and investigation was ongoing.  

dogs In this image, a pack of dogs crosses a road in Kosovo's capital Pristina, April.20, 2007. Photo: Ermal Meta/AFP/Getty Images