Fri, Aug 19, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Four-year-old Australian killed by pitbull-mastiff


A family friend holds a family photo showing four-year-old Ayen Chol in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

A four-year-old girl was mauled to death by a neighbor’s pitbull-mastiff cross in a ferocious attack in Melbourne, sparking renewed calls yesterday for dangerous dog breeds to be banned.

Ayen Chol, whose family is from Sudan, died at the scene after the dog chased another family member into the home where she was watching TV with her young cousins on Wednesday evening, police said.

One cousin fought to fend off the vicious animal, suffering bites to her arms and hands during the struggle, during which she tried to beat the dog away with a table, local reports said. Another, aged five, was bitten on the face.

Both were rushed to hospital in stable condition.

Daniel Atem, a cousin of the victim, said a family member was outside the house when the dog came at her and chased her inside.

Atem said the dog initially attacked the five-year-old and as Ayen’s mother intervened, the dog then attacked Ayen.

“It pulled the child from the mum ... the daughter died,” Atem said. “The dog left the child and then the owner of the dog came after that and took the dog out,” he added.

The dead girl’s father is working in southern Sudan, but had been contacted and was returning home, he added.

“He’s very, very, very sad. The elders community in southern -Sudan will counsel him,” Atem said.

The family migrated to Australia in 2004 for a better life.

The dog is expected to be put down.

The attack reignited calls for a crackdown on the breed, with the Victoria State Government saying it would launch a “Dob in [report] a Dog” hotline and allocate funds so cases can be investigated.

“There cannot be a more tragic situation than to see a young child like this, in these circumstances, killed in this horrible, horrible way,” the Herald-Sun quoted Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu as saying. “We don’t want to see this ever happen again and we will do whatever we possibly can to be rid of these dangerous dogs.”

He vowed to toughen laws to impose possible jail terms on the owners of dogs that kill.

American Pit Bull Terrier Club of Australia president Colin Muir said the issue was not about a particular breed, but the wider problem of responsible ownership of dogs.

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