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Man dies after attack by dog that was seized because of danger fears

By Dave Higgens

A man has died after being attacked by a dog that was returned to its owner despite concerns it was dangerous.

West Yorkshire Police said David Ellam (52) 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 because the animal involved 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 that the dog - believed to be called Alex - was kept chained up for much of the time by its owner.

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

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

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