A Limavady father yesterday told of his family's horror after a stray dog mauled their beloved pet to death in their back garden — then moved into his kennel.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier bitch, which showed signs of having recently given birth to a litter of puppies, got into the garden of the Devenney family home and brutally savaged their dog Ben.
The attacker is due to be put down unless its owner collects it at the last minute.
The horrified couple and their children discovered their cross-breed dying in a pool of blood — and then watched as his attacker wandered into Ben's kennel.
A dog warden arrived to collect the animal half an hour later and it is thought that it is still being held at kennels in the borough.
The Devenneys have called for the dog to be destroyed, fearing a child may be its next victim.
The dog, which is known to the authorities, will be destroyed today if the owner does not collect it from Derry City Council's dog pound.
Brian Devenney said that his wife and children can hardly bear to look in their back garden since the ordeal and said that just an hour later the attack could have involved their children, Glenn (14) and 19-month-old Annie.
"I heard barking on Saturday morning and it didn't sound like Ben," he said.
"I got up to see what the fuss was. I looked out the bathroom window and I saw this strange dog, like a pit bull, and Ben was just lying there covered in blood. It was traumatising.
"We couldn't go out into the garden because it was still out there, running around and barking. We then watched it help itself to Ben's water and then go and lie down in his kennel, covered in his blood. We called the police and the dog warden arrived. But he has said because the dog didn't hurt a human being, there isn't a lot he can do.
"It is disgusting. Our children would have been playing out there in just an hour's time — imagine if it had turned on them?"
Limavady dog warden Thomas Keogh said: "We have had previous dealings with both the owner and the dog.
"If the dog is not claimed by Wednesday then it will be humanely destroyed."