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Man dies after attack by dog previously seized by police and returned to owner

Published 16/08/2016

West Yorkshire Police said the man was walking his own dog in Huddersfield when the attack happened
West Yorkshire Police said the man was walking his own dog in Huddersfield when the attack happened

A 52-year-old man has died after being attacked by a dog which had been returned to its owner despite concerns that it was dangerous.

West Yorkshire Police said David Ellam was out walking with his Yorkshire terrier in Huddersfield on Monday when he was attacked by another dog . He died later in hospital.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) because the dog involved in the attack was seized by officers earlier this month but returned to its owner a week ago after it was determined it was not a banned breed.

A woman who said she was Mr Ellam's cousin wrote on Facebook: "There was nothing accidental about this, it was a tragic incident that should never have happened and correct measures were not taken to ensure this situation wouldn't arise.

"We hope that in the coming days, a true representation of what happened yesterday will come to light and end all speculation. At this point, there is nothing to gain from finger pointing or blaming of dangerous dogs or their owners - a man has died in one of the most horrific ways possible, and we should focus on making sure this never happens again rather than playing the blame game."

A 29-year-old man, the owner of the dog, was arrested in connection with the incident and later released on police bail.

Jamie Hanson, 24, a neighbour of the victim who lives in Sheepridge, told the Huddersfield Daily Examiner that a kitchen knife was thrown to the victim as he was attacked but he did not use it.

Mr Hanson said: "The guy just ended up passing out. He was unconscious, the poor guy. They threw him the knife but he wouldn't use it. When the police came an officer used a fire extinguisher from the car to get the dog off."

Police living in the quadrangle of homes around where the attack happened on Riddings Road said the dog, believed to be called Alex, was kept chained up for much of the time by its owner who lives in the first floor of one of the maisonettes.

Residents said the street was swamped by police on Monday but on Tuesday afternoon there was no sign of any investigation activity all all.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Swift said: "Clearly our thoughts go out to the family at this tragic time. They are understandably devastated by what has happened and are being supported by specially trained officers.

"Our investigation is continuing. We believe that the victim was out with his own dog at the time of the attack near to his home address on Riddings Road. His dog, a Yorkshire terrier, was also injured during the incident and received emergency veterinary care."

He said the suspect dog was captured and taken to kennels.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police were called at 9.48am on Monday and found Mr Ellam with serious injuries. He was taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary but pronounced dead at 9pm.

A force spokesman said that i n June a dog warden visited the address where the suspect animal was being kept following concerns from members of the public.

A referral was made to police amid fears the animal may be a dangerous breed, he said.

The spokesman said: " As a result, the same dog was seized by police and, following a screening, it was determined the animal was not a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The dog was returned to its owner on August 8."

Carol Hanson, a friend of Mr Ellam's partner, told the BBC: "It had been locked up already for biting somebody. It's only been out for five days. Why did they let that dog go? Why did they let that dog back out when it was vicious?

"What needs to be looked at is these dangerous dogs shouldn't be let back out, should they, once they have bitten somebody that should be it. They shouldn't get a second chance."

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