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Life of 6-year-old Jacksonville girl killed in dog attack celebrated

Hundreds of family, friends of Jaelah Smith attended her funeral Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of people attended a funeral service for 6-year-old Jaelah Smith at the Wayman Temple AME Church in Jacksonville Saturday morning. She died last week after being attacked by a family friend's pit bull at her Arlington home. The girl's family said the day was about celebrating Jaelah's life and not about the tragedy and the circumstances surrounding her death.

"This young lady never met a stranger and that she always looks for the good in everyone, and what a powerful message for a 6-year-old to leave to those of us, who oftentimes go around looking for the worst in people. That we should look for the best in people," said Pastor Mark Griffin, of the Wayman Temple AME Church.

Griffin said they won't forget Jaelah and that this is something that touches the family, the church and the entire community.

"We need to live every day as if it might be our last day with our child, because we never know what might happen," Griffin said. 

Many of those attending the ceremony wore yellow, which was Jaelah's favorite color. 

"She was really a sweetheart. Words cannot express how much of a sweetheart she was," said Jaelah's father, Devin Holcomb.

After the service, three doves were released into the sky. Her mother said it served as a symbol of Jaelah spreading her wings and going to a better place and described her feeling at the time.

"I was at peace with it honestly. It just made me feel like, 'Okay, she is good,' said Jaelah's mother, Sheree Smith. 

The family was pet-sitting the dog that attacked Jaelah. It was euthanized earlier this week.

No charges have been filed in the case, but the investigation into the child's death continues.   


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