A three-year-old girl was last night recovering in hospital after being seriously injured by a Japanense Akita fighting dog in Co Tyrone.
The toddler and her mother were walking their dog in the Keery Road area of Magheramason when she was set upon.
The young child sustained injuries to her neck, head and face during the frightening attack which happened around 11.30am yesterday.
She required surgery, but her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the family minister Rev Hillen said the family are too distressed to talk about the incident.
“I was at the hospital this afternoon with the child’s parents when was in theatre,” he said.
“We are hoping that she will be alright, but this has been a very traumatic experience for the whole family.”
The dog was put down by a vet a short time later.
USPCA spokesman David Wilson said the incident proved there was a need to change the law pertaining to animals’ owners.
“There have been a number of incidents when Akitas have been involved in attacking children,” he said.
“Akitas are dogs that are best kept under control. They require special handling.”
Mr Wilson said Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew had promised to bring in a new comprehensive Animal Welfare Bill to bring Northern Ireland into line with England and Wales.
“It means that soon dog owners will be responsible for the behaviour of their animals and not just their welfare,” he said.