A MODEST hero has spoken of the moment he stepped in to rescue a three-year-old girl from a vicious dog attack in Fishbourne.
Andrew Stemp, a premises officer at Fishbourne Primary School, was cycling past the underpass when he heard screaming.
“I thought it was kids messing around, but as I cycled through the underpass I realised a woman and a child were on the ground with the dog attached to the woman’s arm,” he said.
“I jumped off my bike and tried to get the dog off of her. I then managed to get the little girl away, but then the dog jumped up on me and tried to get to the her.
“I just tried to fight it off. I just sort of got into autopilot – my concern was keeping the little girl safe.”
He said the whole thing happened ‘quickly’, and at some point a woman with a lead – not the owner of the dog – managed to capture and restrain it, and take it from the scene.
He stayed with the pair until the emergency services arrived.
PC Carrie Jasper, said: “If it wasn’t for the passer-by this could have been a lot worse. He really saved the day.”
Mr Stemp said two boys from Bishop Luffa were also on the scene trying to help.
“They were trying to deal with it,” he said. “They were hitting the dog with the girls scooter.”
After the attack on Monday afternoon, the three-year-old girl and her mother were rushed to hospital.
A Chichester Police spokeswoman said: “She suffered bites and cuts to the right side of her face before her mother could lift her into the air out of the reach of the dog.
“The animal then bit the mother repeatedly on the right arm and dragged her to the ground.
“At that stage a passer-by picked up the child and lifted her out of the reach of the dog. The dog was distracted by schoolchildren who shouted until a woman took it away.”
The dog was later handed to a Chichester District Council after its owner agreed for it to be destroyed.
Eye-witness Becky Copeland was driving past the scene when the girl was attacked.
“I was driving along to go and get my son from school, and I saw a girl in the air,” she said.
“I thought a child was being abducted it looked like they were fighting.”
She said she could see a man holding the child up in the air, her trousers were ripped, and there was blood, as well as some sort of altercation. Then she slowed down to see what was going on.
“I saw the dog jumping in the air,” she said.
She turned around and went back to the scene, and by that time the dog had gone.
“I saw the blood all over the girls face and her mum’s wrist. They said the dog had attacked the girl.
“It was the Fishbourne school caretaker that helped the little girl.
“The kids from Bishop Luffa were brilliant too, they were helping them.”