TEENAGE Good Samaritans came to the aid of a family whose dog was brutally mauled during a vicious attack in Littlehampton.
Marie Pattenden, of North Beaumont Park, was walking with her young sons, Callum, five, and Adam, nine, and their new dog Lucas, when the attack happened.
The family had just left an alleyway at the southern end of the Littlehampton Cemetery, in Horsham Road, when a dog – believed to be a Staffordshire bull terrier – charged their eight-year-old pet.
“We had only had Lucas for about three weeks,” said Marie.
“He’s a lovely dog and he really enjoys being taken around the cemetery.”
Marie said she had spotted the other dog and its owners at the far end of the grounds but at the time had thought nothing of it.
Then, without warning, it charged towards the family, barking.
She said the attacking dog launched itself at Lucas and sank its teeth deep into his neck.
“It was completely terrifying,” she said.
“I grabbed the two boys and pulled them away from it.
“I thought that it was going to attack my children. It was so brutal.
“I didn’t know what to do. The kids were both screaming and Lucas was yelping and was in real trouble.”
Marie said that she began screaming for help, pleading for the bull terrier’s owners to help – but they refused.
It was then that two teenage boys stepped in to help the horrified family.
The pair – aged about 14 – tried to pull away the attacking dog with “no real concern for their safety” in a bid to free the injured Lucas.
They then tried to scare off the bull terrier, while forming a barrier between it and the frightened family.
“I couldn’t thank the two boys enough,” Marie added.
“What they did was incredible. My boys were both really shaken up by the ordeal – I was shaken up.
“But these two helped to keep us all calm.
“One was reassuring Callum and Adam that everything was going to be alright and that they would be fine, while the other one was helping to stop the Lucas’ neck from bleeding.”
Marie said she tried to stop the owners – who had another dog with them that wasn’t involved in the attack – but that when she called out and searched the area, they had disappeared.
She added the mauling had a lasting effect on her two children.
“Both boys have already had nightmares about it all.
“Callum, already had a fear of dogs after he was attacked on the beach when he was two.
“He was just getting over this but now it’s like he has taken two steps forward and 10 steps back.
“We went out for a walk over the weekend and he heard a dog bark from across the street and said to me, ‘Mummy, that’s enough. Can we go home now?’
“But this could have so easily become so much worse – I can’t imagine what would have happened if it had been a child who was attacked – they could have been killed.”
Officers from Sussex Police are investigating the incident and are urging anyone with information about the attack to call them on 101.
Marie described the male owner of the terrier as white, in his late 30s, and of medium build. He had fair and very short hair.
The woman is said to also be in her late 30s, slim, with shoulder-length, brown hair. The dog is believed to be white, possibly with black markings on its chest.
Marie said the teenagers who had helped her also took a photo of the owners and was appealing for them to hand that to police.
She added that she wished to thank them for their courage.
“I couldn’t believe what they did to help. I just wanted to thank them for everything. They were heroes, ” she said.