A devastated dog owner believes he was just inches from death after a vicious dog attack killed his pet and left him needing surgery.
Michael Burton, from Richmond Hill, was walking his eight-year-old Lakeland terrier cross Tilly in a grassed area near Kitson Street, Richmond Hill, when a dog he describes as a “pitbull” launched itself at them on Thursday at around 1.50pm.
The 56-year-old grabbed Tilly from the dog’s jaws and held her above his head, before the rampant dog lunged at him – clamping on to his hand, which was raised to protect his throat.
After wrestling with the dog, Mr Burton ripped his hand from its mouth and Tilly dropped to the ground. She was bitten in the stomach and shaken “like a tea towel”, before a bystander took hold of the out-of-control dog.
He told the YEP: “It could have killed me, I’ve got off very lightly. If it had jumped another six inches higher it would have got my throat, I thought it was going to get me in the face.
“I’ve had dogs all my life but that just felt like a tank had run over my hand.”
Mr Burton, who lived alone with his pet, was taken to St James’s Hospital before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment, while Tilly was taken to a local vets by a friend and put down.
He required three hours of surgery to repair his wounds, which included damaged tendons in his right hand.
Describing Tilly as being like a daughter to him, Mr Burton said: “I’m devastated. I’ve got kids, I’ve got grand kids and it feels like losing one of them.”
He added that while he blames the dog’s upbringing for the attack, the incident highlights the need for a crackdown on dangerous dogs.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said a 31-year-old local man had been arrested in connection with the incident, and since released on bail.
The dog has been seized and is being tested to identify whether it is a pitbull, a banned breed.