Baby rescued from rampaging pit bull

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The Independent Online

A bus driver helped save the life of a baby after a pit bull terrier – named locally as 'Asbo' - ran amok yesterday, biting eight people including the 10-month-old child, before being shot dead by police.

The dog was seen dragging the young boy around in its mouth as a group of men, including the driver, attacked it with sticks and a fire extinguisher. At one point, a man tried to run the dog over with a pick-up truck.

The child was last night in hospital in a stable condition and at least two other people were also injured during the incident in Mitcham, south London, yesterday morning.

Witnesses reported seeing helicopters, police cars, PCSOs and armed officers "running around with guns" in an attempt to catch the pit bull.

Police said a 29-year-old woman was arrested for having a dog "dangerously out of control" and was taken to a south London police station for questioning.

A neighbour reported a local rumour that the dog had earlier been thrown out of its house after lunging at one of the owner's children.

Jackie Haggis, a 38-year-old foster carer from Tavistock Crescent, Mitcham, saw the attack from her house a few yards from the scene.

"I Heard a load of noise outside. The noise became louder and turned into screaming and shouting, and I looked out of the window and saw a group of men on the grass outside my window. Then I saw the dog with a baby in its mouth.

"It dragged the baby about 60 yards across the green. I seriously panicked and called 999 straight away. The men were trying to hit the dog with a fire extinguisher from a bus and with sticks, but it wouldn't let go.

"Eventually a man came onto the green in a pickup truck and tried to run the dog over but it didn't succeed. Instead the dog turned on another man and to escape he jumped in the back of the pickup truck.

"The dog went berserk and started chasing the man in the truck down the road. It was going absolutely wild."

She added one bus driver, who works in the nearby National Express depot, in particular had saved the child's life.

"If the bus driver hadn't come to the baby's rescue, it would have certainly been killed. It was absolutely petrifying," she said.

Another eyewitness, Oliver Davis, a martial arts teacher from Yorkshire Road, Mitcham, said: "As I was coming across the road with my two children I saw the dog dragging the child across the grass on the common.

"There were four or five people trying to help but the dog was just turning on them. It was a crazy, mad dog. It wanted to attack everything and everyone.

"I am concerned about the children's safety and even our own safety as these kind of dogs are dangerous. I think people should have licences to own dogs like these."

A neighbour, who did not want to be named said: "Everyone's saying the same thing. The dog attacked one of its owner's kids, she threw it out of the house and it ran all over the place biting people."

The Metropolitan Police said officers were called to South Lodge Avenue, in Mitcham, at 11.21am after reports of a dog biting a child on the leg. The bus driver was attacked two minutes later and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

At 11.30am, a 50-year-old woman was bitten by the dog and shortly afterwards a fourth person was rushed to hospital with facial injuries after being attacked, the police said.

Officers from Merton and Croydon launched a hunt for the dog, helped by the Air Support Unit and dog handlers. At 1.23pm, the dog was shot dead by officers.

A police spokeswoman praised the bravery of the driver and a National Express London supervisor who was also injured trying to help the child.

She said: "We understand the incident happened near the depot. They were both walking to the bus when it happened. They saw the child being attacked and ran over and tried their best to help.

"Both of them were injured and taken to hospital. To be so brave and step in to help a child and risk injury is fantastic. We hope the child is okay."

A spokeswoman for National Express said two of their staff were injured, one in the shoulder and the other in the hand, but they were otherwise "fine".