THE owner of a dog named Big Daddy which went on the rampage leaving five people in hospital today said his pet deserved to be put down and he was “lucky to be alive” after being attacked himself.
Jean Francois Vittemer needed 20 stitches to puncture wounds in his left arm after his dog of two years suddenly turned on him outside his Leith home.
The 43-year-old said only the actions of his best friend, James Jenkinson, saved him from being savaged to death by the Johnson pitbull.
Mr Jenkinson, 23, hit the dog with a pool cue in a bid to make it release Mr Vittemer’s arm during the attack in Cables Wynd House, off Great Junction Street, at around 3am on Thursday.
The pair said they spent around 40 minutes wrestling with the dog as it repeatedly bit them, leaving both needing treatment at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Police have already confirmed that the dog would be put down following the incident.
Mr Vittemer, who was born in the village of Toul in northern France but has stayed in his Leith flat for the last 14 years, said: “I think that Big Daddy has to be put down. I don’t want a dog like that. After attacking all those people it has to go. I loved that dog but not that much to want to keep him. I’m lucky to be alive now.
“I got him from a friend two years ago and he has never been a problem. He was always very friendly. The only difficulty I had was him chasing his tail but I gave him more exercise and that stopped.
“I had been sick with a stomach illness for five days so James had been looking after him at his flat on the floor above me. I phoned him to get Big Daddy back and give him a break, and James brought him to my door. I said, ‘Hello Big Daddy, how are you?’ and went down to pet him and that’s when he bit my arm.
“His teeth were locked on to my arm and I could not get him off. I went down the corridor, punching him, trying to fight him off. I was trying to control him with his harness but then the harness snapped.
“James tried to wrestle him off, punching and kicking, but he couldn’t. I told James to go and get a weapon. At that moment I would have stabbed Big Daddy with a kitchen knife myself. That’s when James came back and saved my life.”
Mr Jenkinson, who suffered tendon damage to his arm in the attack, said: “I came back with a pool cue. I thought, if it works on humans it’ll work on a dog. I hit him once but it just dazed him for a few seconds. It finally let Jean go but then it started biting me on the arm and then on the back. I thought I was going to die.”
Finally, Mr Vittemer and Mr Jenkinson managed to escape into a flat. Neighbour Ian Nolan, 41, a Tesco worker, and two women aged 38 and 42 were also injured by the dog.
Police officers who turned up to help were said to have taken refuge in a bin chute cupboard to escape from the dog. A specialist police dog handling unit eventually managed to contain the animal.
Mr Jenkinson said: “I loved that dog and never had any problems with it, except when it bit me on the hand on the previous Friday. You could play fight with it and have a laugh. But attacking five people is not right. He needs put down.”