A six-year-old girl suffered horrific injuries after being attacked by two bulldogs as she played with a friend.
Ellie Hall, from Ashington, Northumberland, had part of her ear ripped off and lost a chunk of her arm after being set upon by two American bulldogs as she and her friend rode their scooters in a back lane behind her home.
Ellie was also left with bite marks on her head and body in the attack which was only stopped when neighbours carrying a crow bar and sticks intervened - having to chase the dogs away three times.
The animals have since been destroyed.
Ellie’s parents last night spoke of their gratitude to their neighbours for saving their daughter’s life and of their outrage that the dogs had been seemingly running free where children play.
The Central Primary School pupil was playing with pal Kaitlyn Groves, six, in the lane behind their Portia Street homes at around 3pm on Sunday when she was set upon by the dogs, whose owner is said to live on the same road.
Kaitlyn ran home to her parents, telling dad David, 30, who is his wife’s carer, how Ellie had put her arm out to one of the dogs to push it away only for it to “latch on to her elbow and pin her down.”
Jason Charlton, whose Katherine Street home is on the opposite side of the lane to the Hall family’s home, was in his back yard and had gone to his shed for a crow bar to change a tyre on his motorbike.
The 44-year-old production supervisor at a cake decoration company heard what he thought was dogs fighting and then “horrific screams,” and rushed out into the lane.
There he saw Ellie crouched down, up against the back gate of her home with one dog attacking her on either side.
Mr Charlton believes Ellie would have died had the attack gone on another thirty seconds.
He said: “It was horrific. I seen a documentary about pit bull fighting and it looked like two dogs in a pit with a bairn in the middle.”
Mr Charlton, and two men armed with sticks - Josh Cardno and Clint Baird, chased the dogs down the lane - only for them to try and return on two occasions - allowing Ellie to get away.
Her parents had been in the house when the attack happened and mum Tina Hall, 30, a cleaner at Hirst Park Middle School, told Ellie had come into the house in a state of shock and bleeding.
Mrs Hall and Ellie’s dad Richie, a 32-year-old joiner, discovered a chunk of flesh had been removed from her arm, and puncture wounds to her head and body.
It was not until they were travelling in an ambulance to the town’s Wansbeck General Hospital that they realised Ellie also had part of one of her ears ripped off.
Ellie was later transferred from that hospital to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where she underwent plastic surgery for two hours on Sunday night.
She is expected to remain in the hospital for several days.
The two dogs were taken to a local vet and destroyed.
The owners voluntarily attended a Northumbria Police station where they were helping officers with their inquiries.
Ellie’s parents, who have a second daughter Chloe, nine, who goes to the same school, last night spoke of their gratitude to neighbours for their help, in particular Mr Charlton, and said their daughter is lucky to be alive.
Mrs Hall said: “She can remember there was a white dog on one side and a black dog on the other pulling my bairn.
“All she remembers is the teeth sinking in and them shaking her. They were ragging her around like a rag doll.
“If Ellie did not put her hand to her throat, she would have been killed.”
Mrs Hall called for measures to protect the public, saying: “What else is it going to take? They are killing babies, they are killing toddlers, what has it got to take?”
A police spokeswoman said: “Police received a report of a child being bitten by two dogs in Ashington.
“At around 3.15pm on Sunday, May 4, officers attended the scene where a six year-old girl had been bitten by two dogs.
“The child was taken to hospital with serious injuries not believed to be life threatening.
“The dogs have been destroyed and the owners are currently helping police with inquiries.”