Man dies after being attacked by his own bull terrier  

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The Independent Online

A man found dead at home was savaged to death by his Staffordshire bull terrier, police said yesterday.

George Dinham, 45, was found on the floor of the home he shared with his brother, his head and neck covered in blood. Police believe the four-year-old dog, called Ben, may have panicked and attacked its owner after he passed out. A post-mortem examination confirmed that Mr Dinham's injuries were caused by dog bites. There were suggestions that he may have suffered an epileptic seizure.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The unusual aspect of this incident is that the man died specifically from the bites. We often find that pet owners are mauled by their pets once they are already dead, but this was clearly not the case here."

The incident happened on Friday night last week in Wandsworth, south-west London. Mr Dinham's brother, Fred, had been out for the evening and returned shortly after midnight to find him dead. A police spokeswoman said the incident was initially treated as suspicious.

An inquest into Mr Dinham's death was formally opened on Thursday at Westminster coroner's court. The dog has been put in kennels while police decide whether he should be put down. Neighbours said they were frightened of the dog, which they claimed had attacked a nine-year-old girl three months earlier.

The RSPCA said it was highly unusual for a Staffordshire bull terrier to attack anyone. "It is remarkable," a spokeswoman said. "We have not heard incidents involving this sort of breed before. A lot of people like this breed because they are good with children." Chris Laurence, the society's chief vet, said: "It is possible for a dog to be spooked by its owner in some way. Any dog presented with an unusual change in its owner's behaviour may react equally unpredictably. It might run away or even attack."