Lyssa Rose Upshaw's death has resparked a conversation about the dangers of free-roaming dogs on tribal lands

Lyssa Rose Upshaw
Credit: Facebook

Authorities are investigating the death of a 13-year-old Navajo Nation girl who was mauled by a neighbor's dogs earlier this year.

Lyssa Rose Upshaw died in May while on a walk near her home in Fort Defiance, on the Navajo Nation. She was found curled up in a ball with her clothes in shreds and her legs "all chewed up," her mother, Marissa Jones, told the Navajo Times.

From the beginning, Jones believed her daughter had been mauled to death by her neighbor's two dozen dogs, describing the animals as "mean."

"Those dogs killed my baby girl," Jones said, according to the Times. "This wasn't supposed to happen."

Now, an autopsy has confirmed the 13-year-old died from wounds sustained in an attack by multiple dogs, according to the Associated Press.

While Lyssa's death was ruled accidental, the investigation into her death remains open.

"The case is pretty far from being closed, far from being just put aside as an accident or a civil matter or anything like that," Navajo Police Department's Criminal Investigations Director Michael Henderson told the AP. "We're still very aggressively pursuing to understand the case to the extent to where if there are any criminal elements attached to what happened."

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Lyssa's death reignited a discussion about free-roaming dogs on tribal lands. She is not the first person to be attacked by the animals, which are known as "rez dogs."

According to the AP, tribal lawmakers have recently passed a resolution to establish criminal penalties for violent dog attacks. The U.S. Attorney's Office of Arizona declined to comment to the AP on whether Lyssa's case has been referred to federal prosecutors.