Police officers have praised residents of a village in County Durham, after they attempted to fight off two American bulldogs as they mauled their owner and reportedly almost tore off his arm on Sunday night.
The 47-year-old man was walking his dogs in High Pittington, County Durham, at around 9.10pm when the powerful animals attacked.
Alison Metcalf, who saw the man mauled outside her home, said she had heard fireworks and suspected that the animals may have been “spooked”.
Witnesses to the terrifying incident used golf clubs, umbrellas and garden tools in an attempt to fend off the pets.
Two drivers even tried to ram the muscular dogs to stop them mauling the victim.
Bystanders described how the dogs gripped the man's head in their mouths, and dragged him across the ground. One said they believed the man’s arm was severed, while another claimed it was “almost ripped off”. Eventually, the pets ran off into the night.
An ambulance crew rushed the victim to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, where he was undergoing surgery for serious, but non-life threatening injuries. Police would not confirm the nature of the man’s injuries.
Durham City Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Coxon confirmed that officers later shot one of the dogs dead and caught the other, following a search operation involving a force helicopter and armed officers.
He added that that the dog was “humanely destroyed…for reasons of public safety," adding the second dog is being kept in kennels while a decision is made about its future.
Mr Coxon went on to praise the public response.
"It was 9.10pm on a Sunday evening, what are most people doing? Watching TV and not thinking of having to deal with an incident of a man being savagely attacked outside their own home.
"So to look out of the window, to make that split-second, conscious decision they were prepared to do something is really heart-warming.
"It's in the best traditions of the people of County Durham."
Mrs Metcalf described how she had heard "a lot of shouting" but ignored the noises until she heard someone yell “help me”.
Her husband then rushed in and told her “there's a man on the ground”.
"I flew out to see what was going on to be faced by one of the big dogs on my drive," she said.
Watching from an upstairs window, she then called 999.
"The dogs were just ripping him to bits and dragging him around.
"Luckily he's a big guy but if it had been child or someone of a smaller build, it's likely they would not have survived the attack."
Mrs Metcalf, who knows the victim and walks her own dog Katie in the area, heard fireworks and suspected that might have "spooked" the bulldogs.
Another witness claimed they saw blood and "his arm was literally torn off, his clothes were torn or pulled off and he was just squirming about screaming for help and eventually it looked as if he just gave up."
The witness added: "I've never seen something so vicious and brutal in my life."Reuse content