A toddler has been left scarred for life after a dog mauled his face as he played outside his house.
Twenty-month-old Rod-Jo Aikin had been playing with a ball outside his Tweed Street home in Ashington on Friday when the Staffordshire Bull Terrier-cross bit him on the face.
Mum Natalie Steel said: “He was playing with his football and the dog came out of nowhere.
“I think he was going for the ball but he latched onto his face.
“His grandad was trying to get the dog off him, and he had blood everywhere, you couldn’t see his face for blood.
“The dog had taken a chunk out of his lip and we just rushed to the hospital.”
Rod-Jo was taken to Wansbeck General Hospital before being referred to the plastic surgery department at Newcastle’s RVI, where he underwent an operation on his lip.
Natalie, who has four other children, said: “Part of his lip was gone so they had to stitch it tight, and he may have to have skin grafts in the future depending on how it heals.
“The dog had gone right though his nose, which the doctors say is much worse than his lip.
“He’s going to be scarred for life and I am devastated as he is such a pretty boy.
“RJ has been so brave, he has never really cried or anything, I’m proud of the way he has reacted.
“We are happy that he is happy, and we are just so lucky that that’s all it was.
“He has bandages on his hands to stop him pulling out his stitches, but he is so much better in just a few days, so we will have to wait and see how he heals.
“I won’t let him near a dog again.”
Now Natalie is warning other parents to be on their guard so it doesn’t happen again.
“I just want to warn parents around here as there’s a lot of children that play out there, that there are dangerous dogs around,” she said.
“It was off the lead and it just came out of nowhere. “It happened in the blink of a second, I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t have been there.
“The dog should be put down and so should the owner.
“We are so lucky it wasn’t his throat or his eyes, it could have been so much worse. “I want people to be aware what can happen and how quickly it can happen.”
She added: “I just don’t want this to happen to another kid.”
Northumbria Police are now looking to trace the owner of the dog.
“House to house enquiries have been carried out in the area,” a police spokesman said.
“The owner has not been traced and no-one in the area has knowledge of the dog which is described as a brown and white Staffordshire-type dog.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 ext 69191, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.