Three dogs believed to have mauled a young boy to death on a northern Saskatchewan reserve were destroyed by the RCMP, the reserve's chief said Monday.

Canoe Lake First Nation Chief Guy Lariviere said RCMP on the scene had to destroy the dogs because they returned to the scene before officials could remove the child's body.

The boy, who family members identified as 10-year-old Keith Iron, was attacked around 11:30 a.m. Saturday as he walked to his cousin's house on the reserve, which is about 300 kilometres north of North Battleford.

Earlier reports suggested that a pack of wild dogs had attacked Iron. But Lariviere said the dogs were owned by residents in the community, who are badly shaken by the incident.

"What happened on Saturday affected everybody in the community, including the leadership, (and) especially the owners of those dogs, they're really feeling pained at what happened," Lariviere told reporters Monday afternoon.

"It was an awful thing to see, but we're trying to deal with it in the community and see how we can make sure something like that doesn't happen again."

According to Lariviere, the reserve has a bylaw that calls for dangerous dogs to be tied up and stray dogs to be "gotten rid of as humanely as possible."

He could not say what breed the dogs involved in the attack were, but he said members of the community had previously complained about the dogs' aggressive behaviour.

The boy's uncle, Lawrence Iron, told CTV News his nephew was attacked by the dogs as he walked to his cousin's house -- a trek he made nearly every morning.

"That's where he was going, and on the way there, close to the house, a bunch of dogs attacked him," Iron said. "It's really hard, especially on the father and me as a brother. It's hard on me too."

The incident is the second dog attack in the province in less than a year.

Last fall, six-year-old Shiloh Berscheid was badly bitten by a pack of dogs as he played outside the village of Ile a la Crosse, Sask.

Berscheid had to be flown to a hospital in Saskatoon so plastic surgeons could close large gashes across his face. He received 60 stitches.

In 2006, five-year-old Alberta boy Lance Loonskin was mauled to death by a pack of dogs on the North Tallcree reserve.

And that same year, two boys were mauled to death in Manitoba. A two-year-old lost his life to a pack of dogs on the Hollow Water reserve, while a three-year-old boy was killed on the Sayisi reserve.

Dr. Richard Herbert, who works on improving infrastructure on First Nations communities in northern Ontario, said the problem is ubiquitous across Canada's First Nations communities.

"It's right across the board," Herbert, of Christian Aboriginal infrastructure Developments (CAID), told in a telephone interview. "All First Nations have the problem, and the more remote the First Nation, the worse the problem."

According to Herbert, a major cause of the problem is a lack of infrastructure on reserves for dog management.

The federal government does not have an agency that can set up veterinary services on reserves, and reserves are not municipalities, so they cannot operate spay and neuter clinics, Herbert said.

And because dogs breed twice a year, the population explodes and becomes a nuisance to the community.

Domesticated dogs can get together with wild dogs and hunt in a pack, and the pack mentality can lead them to maim or kill a human.

"When dogs get together they change their behaviour and they start hunting as a pack. If the lead dog decides to choose a child to chase, the whole pack will hunt that child," Herbert said.

"How do you protect yourself? I wouldn't even know because if a dog pack came at you and just went into that frenzy, you're going to die."

With files from The Canadian Press