The son of a wheelchair-bound man who was mauled to death by an American Staffordshire terrier is struggling to understand how things went so wrong.
Leo Biancofiore was mauled to death at his home in Melbourne‘s Mill Park on Wednesday night.
His wife, Donata, was also injured trying to save her husband, and underwent emergency surgery last night in Royal Melbourne Hospital where she is now in a stable condition.
The dog – named Junior – was owned by the couple’s 29-year-old son Mark and was well loved by the entire family.
Mark is believed to be ‘struggling to comprehend what has happened,’ The Herald Sun reported.
Leo Biancofiore (pictured left) was mauled to death by a dog owned by his son Mark (right). His wife, Donata (centre) was also attacked
The couple’s nephew said the family are ‘giving my little nephew a bit of space because he’s pretty distraught.
‘My uncle loved the dog, and the dog loved my uncle. The dog was never aggressive,’ he said.
He went on to describe the situation as unfortunate, but said the family are supporting one another through the challenging times.
Junior was put down on Wednesday night after the out of character attack, in which he turned on Mr Biancofiore for no apparent reason.
Horrified neighbours heard blood-curdling screams and rushed to the house to help – but they were too late to save Mr Biancofiore, who was wheelchair bound and had been in his mobility scooter at the time of the attack.
‘There was nothing we could do,’ some of the residents said.
They described Mrs Biancofiore as a hero after she was savagely attacked trying to protect her husband.
Neighbours Radenko and Danielle Subotic have told how they desperately tried to help after seeing Junior pin the man to the ground.
‘I heard the screaming from my backyard. I saw him on the ground,’ Mrs Subotic told the publication.
Junior (pictured) was well loved by Mr Biancofiore and showed no signs of aggression in the past
‘The dog was on top of the body of the man’.
She said Mr Biancofiore’s wife was screaming and trying to get the dog off – but it was too strong.
The neighbour said her adult children sprayed the dog with a garden hose but it refused to snap out of its frenzy.
When police arrived on scene they fired shots to try and prevent the mauling.
Senior Sergeant Glenn Parker said Mr Biancofiore’s daughter-in-law gave consent to destroy the animal.
‘It’s an older dog, it’s quite familiar with all of the members of the family and my understanding is it’s out of character for the dog,’ the officer said.
Junior was not registered with the local City of Whittlesea council and there had been no prior reports to the council about the dog.
Junior was led away from the house after the fatal attack and euthanised late on Wednesday night
‘The dog was euthanised last night and council will continue to assist Victoria Police with their investigation,’ said council spokeswoman Liana Thompson.
Mr Biancofiore is believed to be the fourth Australian this year to be killed by the dog breed.
Victims of previous American Staffordshire attacks include a 51-year-old man who suffered a medical condition before being attacked in Nowra, south of Sydney in June.
A 72-year-old woman also died from an attack in south-west of Sydney in May, while a 40-year-old man died weeks after he was attacked by an American Staffordshire in January.
A spokesperson for Premier Daniel Andrews told The Age there were no plans to restrict the Staffordshire breed in Victoria.
‘Based on the findings of the Parliamentary Inquiry Into Restricted Breed Legislation, there are currently no plans to add to the restricted breed list,’ she said.
RSPCA Victoria’s Tegan McPherson said there were several causes of dog attacks, but breed wasn’t necessarily one of them.
‘Breed alone is not a reliable predictor of aggressive behaviour,’ she told ABC Radio.
‘From what we’re hearing, this dog didn’t necessarily have a background of aggressive behaviour until this incident.’