The attack involving two pit bull mixes happened Monday night in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood in the 7300-block of South Kingston.
A 3-year-old boy was home alone with his three sisters when the attack happened.
A frantic little girl banged on a neighbor's door to get help. That neighbor responded, armed only with a wooden plank.
"I was in my house. A little girl jumped over the fence and told me that some dog was biting her little cousin or something like that. So, I jumped the fence, went in, fought the dogs off and got the little boy," neighbor Willie Riley said. "When I walked in, one dog was pulling his ear and the other had his pants leg trying to pull him apart."
Firefighters and paramedics were out on a call when the attack happened and returned as Riley carried the boy inside the fire station across the street.
"There was a neighbor that walked by, jumped over the fence, wrestled the dogs, basically ripped the dog away from the child, and then got back through the fence and probably saved the baby's life," said Capt. Bob Martin of the Chicago Fire Dept.
The toddler suffered bite marks and puncture wounds all over his body, authorities said.
It was unclear Tuesday if adults were in the house where the child was attacked. Riley says the boy was home with his three sisters, and the boy wandered in on one of the dogs who was agitated from recently giving birth. Authorities said an adult who was supposed to be supervising stepped outside to get something when the attack happened.
Police issued tickets to the dog owners.
The 3-year-old was expected to be OK. None of his injuries was life-threatening. He was being treated at Comer Children's Hospital.
Meanwhile, 48-year-old Riley would not accept the title of hero. He said he did what anybody else would have done.
On Tuesday morning, two dogs in the home stood watch at the door.
"They were nice dogs, I come by, they wouldn't bark at you. They wouldn't jump at the gates or anything," said Dolly Parker, friend of the owner.
Neighbors say the children had only been visiting their aunt for a week and that she went out to get some gas when the attack happened. Neighbor Anthony Taylor has several grandchildren and would like to see the animals removed.
"I was always concerned about the front yard with them, but what can I say?" he said.
An Animal Control officer was accompanied by Chicago police Tuesday. He came to seize the dogs but was only able to leave a notice because no one was home.
"It's a tragic thing that she left them. Hope the little guy will be OK. We had great plans for the summer. I was looking forward to hanging out with them," one neighbor said.