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A best friend?
Sensational headline, right? Maybe not. Below are some reports of dog attacks from around the word in just the last few days. This selection is in no way comprehensive, just a sample of some of the canine attacks that have come by my desk of late. Some are doubly notable because they are assaults on owners or other family members. In other words, they're not your typical stories of freak attacks on strangers. Something else seems to be going on.

A particularly vicious mauling by two pitbull terriers of a young child and of a man trying to intervene took place on the November 3rd in Indianapolis:
An Indianapolis man is being called a hero after rescuing a 12-year-old boy from two attacking pit bulls Sunday afternoon.

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officer responded to a report of aggressive animals actively attacking a young mentally challenged child in the 3000 block of N. Gladstone Ave Sunday afternoon. While in route to the scene, the officer was told that the dogs were attacking an adult male that was trying to protect the child.

The officer arrived and saw a man in the middle of the intersection of 31st and Gladstone being attacked by two pit bulls. The man, later identified as Russell Hill, was on the ground with both dogs biting him.

Hill's clothing had been ripped off and he was bleeding profusely from numerous wounds. The officer exited his vehicle, and immediately shot a black and white pit bull twice. The wounded dog started limping away, but eventually turned around and came back towards Hill and the officer.

The officer then shot the dog two more times. The dog stumbled a few feet away and laid down on the ground.

The second pit bull, brown in color, stopped attacking Hill when the officer fired his weapon at the animal. It fled back to its residence in the 3100 block Forest Manor.

Animal Control Officers arrived at the home and were able to capture the brown dog.
A few days later in New Zealand a toddler was savaged by two large dogs:
The mother of a toddler mauled by two dogs in an estate near Queenstown says the attack was ghastly.

Her son, 3, was playing with other children in Herries Ln, Lake Hayes Estate, at 5pm yesterday when the youngsters were startled by barking dogs.

The children started to run but the toddler fell over and two dogs, a rottweiler and a labrador cross, bit his legs.

His mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said the family hoped no-one else had to go through anything similar.

''It's been a ghastly experience. I would hate to see something like this repeated in our lovely community and hope this sends a message to dog owners.

''I would also like to acknowledge the owners of the dogs that were involved. They have been very kind and co-operative. They are distraught about what has happened."

The toddler was taken to Lakes District Hospital with lacerations, where he needed stitches for two of three deep cuts on his legs, and the attack was referred to Queenstown Lakes District Council animal control by police.

In a statement, a council spokesman said the dogs were immediately impounded pending an investigation.

The outcome potentially included an infringement notice, a menacing or dangerous dog classification, prosecution and the destruction of the dogs, he said.
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Two dogs attacked a three-year-old boy in Lake Hayes Estate, mauling his leg
Again from New Zealand came this report of another attack by pitbulls on a youngster, on this occasion by a pack of four:
The owner of four dogs which viciously attacked a 7-year-old Japanese girl in Murupara has admitted a criminal charge against him.

Gareth Clive Boyt, 35, pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court today to a charge under Section 58 of the Dog Control Act for owning four dogs that caused serious injury.

He was originally jointly charged with his wife, Charlotte Boyt, 31, but police withdrew the charge against her today.

After standing in the dock next to her husband she returned to the public gallery in tears where she was supported by family and friends.

Defence lawyer Bill Lawson entered a guilty plea on behalf of Gareth Boyt.

"He was the owner of the dogs at the time even though he did not have formal control of them, however the responsibility is attached to the owner," Mr Lawson said.
At the end of October in the UK, a pitbull sunk its teeth into a woman attempting to deliver a parcel in Eastbourne:
A 42-year-old woman whose leg was savaged in a dog attack on Friday afternoon has spoken of her horrific ordeal.

Kerry Stevens, who works with businesses in the Rye and Battle area in newspaper sales, was delivering a parcel to a flat last Friday when the dog rushed out and sank it's teeth into her thigh.

She is now recovering after two operations at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and faces the prospect of having plastic surgery.

Kerry said the moment the dog, a cross between a pit bull and an America bull dog, bit her on the thigh and refused to let go was one of the "most terrifying" of her life.

The attack happened at a property in Eastbourne.

Kerry said: "It was communal flats so I pushed the buzzer and got let in. The woman I was dropping the package off to and her toddler came to the door.

"We were talking then her husband came to the door and started talking too when the dog pushed out of the doorway and launched at me and bit me several times before locking onto my thigh.

"The woman's husband was punching the dog to release the jaws. She ran inside the flat with her toddler and locked the door leaving us out in the hallway. Eventually the dog let go, the man sat on it and called an ambulance.

"I crawled to the front door and he slid his phone across the floor so I could talk to the ambulance people outside in safety.

"It was the most terrifying experience of my entire life. I was in such a state of shock, trauma and pain. It was horrible."

Police and ambulance crews arrived at the scene and Kerry was rushed to hospital. A vet was called out and the animal was destroyed.
Meanwhile in California a pitbull viciously ripped the ear off an 18-month-old boy (and this was the family pet, mind you):
An 18-month-old Jurupa Valley boy was attacked Wednesday by the family pit bull, which ripped off one of the toddler's ears before neighbors scared away the dog.

The child, whose identity was not released, was apparently playing with the canine in the back yard of his home on Pontiac Avenue around 7:40 a.m. when 2-year-old ''Poncho'' bit the boy several times and tore away his left ear, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

''It just broke my heart -- he's just a baby,'' said animal control Officer Tiffany Fuller. ''He'll be scarred for life.''

Fuller was one of two Animal Services officers called to the house to seize the dog. She said when she and her partner rolled up, neighbors werestanding on the property, holding baseball bats for protection.

''They ... heard the attack and went out to help the boy,'' Fuller said.According to county officials, the boy's mother was out of the houseshopping at the time, and his grandmother was supposed to be watching him, but evidently didn't notice when he got up from a nap and wandered into the backyard.

The tot's screams alerted the household.

He was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center for treatment, according to Animal Services spokesman John Welsh, who said the child's mother surrendered Poncho to the county to be euthanized.
To complete this short series of reports, another from November 5th, involving yet another pitbull terrier terror attack on a child:
Police in Newport say a 5-year-old boy has about 100 puncture wounds after a pit bull attacked him on Tuesday.

Newport Police Lt. William Fitzgerald tells WPRI-TV that the boy was playing outside the Park Holm Housing Complex when the dog ran out of an apartment at about 3 p.m. and attacked him. One of the boy's parents fought off the dog with a pipe.

The boy is being treated at Hasbro Children's Hospital for non-life-threatening wounds on his faces, hands and legs.

A visiting Fall River, Massachusetts, woman who owns the dog has been cited for not restraining it.

Police were still looking for the animal Wednesday.
It's amazing (or maybe not) how this same breed keeps popping up in these and similar reports. This dog is bred for its loyal, protective, bloody vicious characteristics, so perhaps it's no big surprise really? Take a look at the pie chart below, which vividly illustrates which breed of dog has caused, by far, the most fatalities in the US over an 8-year period, between 2005-2012:

pit bull attacks
But it's not just pit bull attacks. To bolster my bold headline claim, consider this recent report from the Yarra Ranges in Australia:
Yarra Ranges Council is desperately trying to get dogs under control as the number of attacks continue to skyrocket.

But despite the surge in attacks, the council has only declared six dogs as dangerous in the municipality.

Early this year, Yarra Ranges Mayor Fiona McAllister said the council was "at a loss" to explain why so many dog attacks had occurred within the first few months of the year, with 51 attacks by the end of February.

But numbers have continued to climb,
with 179 dog attacks reported by September.

This is up from 157 dog attacks at this time last year.
According to Wikipedia the population of Yarra Ranges is just 144,541. To experience 179 dog attacks in only 8 months for an area containing 144,500 people does seems rather excessive, to put it mildly.

In addition, there is this September story about Rumbek in Sudan:
At least nine people have died in Lakes state's Rumbek Central county after being bitten by stray dogs.

The public health department in Rumbek has confirmed the deaths, saying the presence of dogs in town is on the rise.

There has been more than 500 separate dog attacks on residents in Rumbek, while 40 people are also undergoing treatment.
The population of the Rumbek district is 82,500 (again going by Wikipedia data), so the 500 attacks here are even more striking, with a ratio of 165 to 1.

These reports should additionally be viewed in the much wider context of all the recent wild animal attacks by numerous diverse species across the globe. Whatever is going on, it is certainly out of the ordinary and not just more of the same. Deadly elephant attacks, bears, bobcats, muskox, hyenas, foxes; the animal world - whether wild or domestic - in general has been 'going nuts' recently.

Running in parallel are increasing accounts of stories of bizarre human behaviour. Just as the craziness in the human population increases, perhaps this is being reflected in the animal kingdom, including, not least of all, our domesticated canine friends?