POLICE have praised residents’ bravery after they tried to fight off two savage bulldogs which went berserk and tried to rip off their owner’s arm on a quiet housing estate.
They used golf clubs, umbrellas and spades to stop the American Bulldogs’ relentless attack on their 47-year-old owner as he took them for a walk in Priors Grange, High Pittington at around 9.10pm on Sunday.
Two drivers even tried to ram the powerfully-built dogs to stop them mauling the victim, who was undergoing surgery in hospital.
At times they gripped the man’s head in their mouths, dragging him along the ground, and one witness said that his arm was severed, while another said it was “almost ripped off”.
Alison Metcalf saw the attack happen outside her home on the neat, modern housing estate where she lives, and came face to face with one of the huge dogs.
She said: “About 9 o’clock I heard a lot of shouting which I just thought was kids so I ignored it, and it turned to screaming.
“I thought I heard somebody shout ‘help me’ but I couldn’t be certain, then I heard my husband come flying in, he threw our own dog through the front door, and said ‘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.
“My husband shouted ‘it’s one of those big dogs, get back in the house’.
“I ran upstairs to see what was happening and immediately called 999.
“I shouted to the man concerned that I’d called for an ambulance and everything would be OK.
“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.
She said the public’s response was “fantastic”, saying: “People were going out with spades, umbrellas and golf clubs trying to get the dogs off him but nothing was working.
“There were two guys trying to ram the dogs but it didn’t even touch them.
“There was absolute chaos but people were very courageous.”
Two nurses and a doctor who live locally came to help.
The owner was in excruciating pain, she said: “They’d ripped his clothes off, they’d almost ripped his arm off, he had dreadful injuries to one of his arms, puncture marks, he was just a mess.”
“He was very frightened as well, very shocked.”
People who saw the horrific attack will be offered counselling.
Another witness said: “I’ve never seen something so vicious and brutal in my life.
“I 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.
“People were behind the dogs in a car beeping the horn constantly to try and scare the dogs away, while some other people were also hitting the dogs with garden tools and golf clubs, but no matter what, the dogs would not stop.”
One dog was shot dead by police firearms officers, while another was caught and was in kennels where its fate will be decided.
Inspector Dave Coxon praised the public’s 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.”
It was understood the victim was a bulldog breeder who lives locally.
A man at his house declined to comment.
The victim was being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, where police said his injuries were serious but not life-threatening.