'He latched onto Raffa's throat'

A WODONGA retiree put his own life on the line to pull his 14-month-old German shepherd Raffa from the jaws of a stray dog on the weekend.

During the horrific 10-minute attack, Barry Stephens, 68, sustained a bite to his hand which required 10 stitches.

Now he and his wife Colleen are campaigning for more council patrols to target dogs off the leash.

“We walk every day and every day we pass three or four dogs off the lead,” Mrs Stephens said.

“We want the council to start patrolling and people to start taking responsibility for their dogs.”

The drama unfolded on Saturday morning when the couple were walking to the shops with Raffa.

“I just finished saying to my husband watch out there’s a dog off the lead and he came up and latched onto Raffa’s throat,” Mrs Stephens said.

“From there it was just terrible, we just couldn’t get him off.”

The fight spilled onto Felltimber Creek Road and two women drivers stopped to help, including one who tried hitting the dog with an umbrella.

Mr Stephens then threw himself on the attacking dog but it wasn’t until another man stopped and joined in the struggle that the dog, which the Stephens said looked like a pit bull cross, let go.

The pair sat on the dog until police arrived while Mrs Stephens and Raffa took refuge in one of the women’s cars.

“If these people hadn’t pulled over to help us we just don’t know where it would have ended up,” she said.

“They’re life savers.”

Mr Stephens, who suffers from a lung disease, said he didn’t think twice when going in to help his dog.

“I wanted to save my dog, we love him,” he said.

“He had him right on the throat and if he’d got the jugular it could have been fatal.

“I’ll heal better than him.”

Police handed the dog to rangers on Saturday and it was impounded.

“The dog is a large crossbreed that has no identification and is not microchipped,” Wodonga Council director business services Trevor Ierino said.

“At this stage, the owner has not come forward to collect the animal.”

An eight-day period is given for the owner to claim the dog but if not claimed it is likely it will be put down.

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