canine attack
© Angela Antunes / CC by 2.0
A nine-year-old girl was mauled to death by two shepherd dogs on her way to school in northern China last week, according to Chinese news reports.

The girl, identified only as Ling Ling, was attacked while walking alone on a small rural path between a cornfield and woodland in Quyang county, Hebei province, last Thursday, Shanghai-based news site reported on Tuesday.

She cried out as the dogs lunged for her neck and passing pupils ran to the school for help, the Yanzhou Metropolis Daily reported.

Ling Ling's older sister came running and tried to drive the dogs off with rocks but failed and went home to get their parents, the newspaper report said.

The parents drove the animals away but the girl later died of her wounds in hospital.

"Both dogs were big. They jumped on and bit the girl's neck. Her neck was almost severed and her head had wounds, too," the newspaper quoted a villager as saying. "It's so horrific."

Another villager said one of the dogs dragged Ling Ling about 50 metres (54 yards) during the attack.

The dogs belonged to a villager who said he was not aware his two pets had escaped the home, the newspaper report said.

County police captured the dogs and have launched a criminal investigation.

There has been a string of media reports about attacks by unleashed or unmuzzled dogs in China in recent years.

In July, an unmuzzled dog attacked a Japanese woman on the arm in a Shanghai street, inflicting a 10cm (4 inch) wound on her arm.

The dog was leashed at that time, but the owner said the animal was too strong to restrain.

In November last year, a man was detained in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, for beating up a woman who chased his unleashed dog away from her frightened children.

And in Zunyi, Guizhou province, a man was sentenced to two years in jail for "loose management" of his two Dogo Argentino dogs in 2014 after they escaped and attacked another man exercising nearby. The victim later died from blood loss.