updated 12/20/2008 1:03:20 AM ET 2008-12-20T06:03:20

A 60-year-old man was mauled to death by a pair of pit bulls Friday in the backyard of his rural Southern California home.

The man was taking a cigarette break when the male and female pit bulls attacked him, said Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The man, who was the grandfather of the dogs' owner, died at the scene. His name was not released.

County Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said the dogs were euthanized later in the afternoon. The male dog weighed 107 pounds and was about 3 years old, while the female weighed 52 pounds and was about 6 years old.

Welsh said it was unclear why the dogs suddenly attacked the man, who was familiar with them and had played with them before. But he noted that neither dog had been spayed.

"Unaltered dogs are always more aggressive," Welsh said. "We always recommend that for family pets, people spay or neuter their dogs."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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