Neighbours tell of their shock after a man was killed by dog

A dog that two months ago was seized by police over concerns it might be a dangerous breed has attacked and killed a man on the street in Huddersfield.

Wednesday, 17th August 2016, 10:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th August 2016, 11:34 am
David Ellam, 52, was killed when his neighbour's dog attacked him in his doorway. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

52-year-old David Ellam was attacked by the animal, described by eyewitnesses as a Staffordshire-Labrador crossbreed, in the Sheepridge area.

He was found with potentially life threatening injuries injuries and taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, where he was pronounced dead at 9pm that day.

The victim’s dog, a Yorkshire Terrier, was also injured in the incident and received emergency veterinary care.

Riddings Road in Huddersfield, close to the scene of the attack. (Google Maps)

The dog that carried out the attack was detained in kennels. A 29-year-old man, who is the owner of the dog, has been arrested in connection with the incident and has been released on police bail pending further enquiries. 

Police have now revealed that in June the same dog was seized by police and screened following concerns that it was a dangerous breed.

We believe that the victim was out with his own dog at the time of the attack near to his home address on Riddings Road.

Mark Swift, West Yorkshire Police A warden visited its address after concerns raised by members of the public.

Riddings Road in Huddersfield, close to the scene of the attack. (Google Maps)

Following a screening, it was determined the animal was not a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The dog was returned to its owner on August 8.  Police also said that in October 2012 a dog control order had been issued to Kirklees Council against the dog and its owner, putting conditions in place for the management of the animal.

The order remains in place to this day.

Mr Ellam was trying to shield his terrier as the attack dog clamped its jaws around his head, according to witnesses.

The park outside the victim’s home in Sheepridge, Huddersfield.

They said the animnal ripped at his kneecap before shaking his head “like a rag” as it attempted to drag him into its kennel.

One witness, who asked not to be named, said: “As soon as I saw the dog attacking him I ran inside and called the owner, who told me he would be there in a minute.

“I went back outside and the victim was shouting. By that time his kneecap was completely gone and blood was everywhere.

“While someone else was ringing for the police, the dog latched onto the guy’s head and had him in a vice. The dog then started ragging his head from side to side.

“The victim was shouting and wailing, ‘help me’, in a blood-curdling type of splattering noise - it was awful.

“Someone else got out a hosepipe and used that at the dog - but it still wouldn’t let go and kept on dragging the man closer to its kennel.

“There was literally blood everywhere - but it wasn’t until the dog owner got back from work and shouted ‘Ross’ that the dog let go and it freed him.”

The witness added: “There were tensions between the victim and dog owner anyway -because of the victim’s small dog being aggressive towards it before.”

The dog, which is usually chained up in a pen outside the owner’s flat in Riddings Road, was said to have been running loose at the time of the attack.

Neighbour Jamie Hanson, 24, said a kitchen knife had been thrown to Mr Ellam 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.”

Another neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, said:

“I went over to the gate and that was enough for me, I had to turn away. It was horrific. “He was on the ground and the dog had his arm.” Keeley Berry, who is believed to be related to the victim, wrote on Facebook: “Thank you to all the kind comments at such a traumatic time.

“As much as everyone is entitled to their opinion, my family would politely ask that people refrain from being too judgemental on these public pages by making ill-informed comments about the situation that is still very raw and unravelling day by day.

“We all understand people are shocked as many will agree that the situation was entirely preventable, but please do not make sweeping generalisations about dog breeds or handling/treatment of dogs, or the fact it would be ‘much worse’ if it was a child killed rather than a grown man.

“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.”

West Yorkshire Police has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission as a result of its previous contact with the dog. Detective Chief Inspector Mark Swift of the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team who is leading the investigation, 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 that the victim was out with his own dog at the time of the attack near to his home address on Riddings Road.”