A 14-year-old girl has suffered savage injuries from an AMERICAN PIT BULL that police were forced to shoot dead at the scene.
Jessica Arkle was rushed into hospital after her arm was 'ripped to pieces' by the banned breed in Felling, Gateshead at around 5pm yesterday.
She was in her friend's garden when the dog attacked breaking her palm bone and fingers.
Northumbria Police officers at the scene attempted to control the dog, however the animal was in a highly agitated state.
Despite the force's best efforts to control the hound, it was necessary for police to shoot and destroy the animal to ensure public safety.
Jessica was rushed into the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Gateshead, where she was initially treated for serious arm injuries - however she was later transferred to the RVI in Newcastle where she was operated on last night.
Jessica's mother Catherine, 46, said: 'It is really really serious, it looks like she will be in hospital for a whole week.
'She has already had an operation on her arm but she might need to have a skin graft as well.
'She was at her friend's house which is where the dog was - it was being looked after by someone else because the owner was away.
'Jess went into the garden and the dog followed her outside.
'It just went for her and sank its teeth in - she tried to get it off but it would not let go.
'Jess' friend jumped over the fence and pulled her over to help her escape - I think this is how she broke her fingers.
'If her friend didn't help to pull her over the fence then it could have been a lot worse - it could have been her legs or even her face.
'The owner of the dog wasn't around - I think he was on holiday or something.
'Someone else was looking after the dog but they obviously didn't have very good control over it.
'Jess can't remember some details because it all happened so fast and she was so terrified.
'She has broken fingers, her palm bone has been smashed and her arm has been ripped to pieces.
'She has been really brave. I am just so thankful because it could have been a lot worse.'
Chief Inspector Dave Gould said: 'Our thoughts are with this young girl who has endured a horrific attack by a dog that was highly agitated and a danger to other people.
'At the moment we don't know the full extent of her injuries, however we do believe they are incredibly serious and we hope she is ok.
'Officers at the scene spent more than an hour attempting to bring the dog safely under control but unfortunately despite best efforts it continued to remain highly agitated and posed a real danger.
'We did not want to have to destroy the animal but our main concern has to be public safety, we already had one young girl who had been seriously injured and we had to do what we could to prevent anyone else from coming to harm.
'I cannot stress enough how much of a last resort this was for us and a number of options were considered including the use of specialist officers.
'We know local residents will be concerned and will have extra officers in the area to speak with residents and offer them reassurance.'