A murder investigation has begun after a man was savaged by what police believe was an XL bully.

Residents in Shiney Row, Sunderland, said they saw paramedics working on the man’s badly injured throat after the attack in Maple Terrace at around 6.55pm on Tuesday.

Northumbria Police said the dead man was 54 and he died despite the efforts of hospital medics to save his life.

A 44-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and following the man’s death, he was re-arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody.

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The dog was shot by police at the scene “to ensure the safety of the public”, the force said.

“While further assessment will be carried out, officers believe the dog to be an XL bully breed,” the force added.

Read more: Dad mauled to death in horrific 'XL Bully' attack as tributes pour in

Linda Blyth, who lives in Maple Terrace, said she saw paramedics working on the injured man’s neck. The attack happened on grassy area behind her home, she said.

Police responded in large numbers and officers told residents to go inside.

She told the PA news agency: “We were told ‘go in, shut your doors’ and then I heard the gun shot.”

The dog was shot in the owner’s yard.

“I don’t know what set the dog off, everyone is speculating,” she said.

Speaking of the paramedics, she said: “It was awful to see, you don’t expect it on your doorstep.”

She said she could hear their heart monitor beeping as the man was stretchered past.

A friend of hers had just visited the XL bully that lunchtime and told her: “It’s soft as clarts.”

A local dog owner, who asked not to be named, frequently saw two XL bullies being walked in the area.

He saw the man’s throat had been injured.

He said: “I heard a girl screaming for the police, saying the man was dying.

“The man got put in the ambulance and they were working on him here for about 10 minutes before they set off.

“I have seen the two dogs before, they are well known in the area, an older one and a younger one.

“They shot the older one in the yard.”

The Northern Echo:

A large police cordon remained in place on Maple Terrace and neighbouring Lowerson Avenue.

Northumbria Police have assured the public there is no wider risk to the community and said officers will remain at the scene.

They urged people not to speculate online about the dogs or the attack while enquiries are ongoing, including on social media.

The latest attack comes as the Government looks to ban American XL bully dogs in response to a series of attacks.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to ban the breed in September under the Dangerous Dogs Act by the end of the year.

An official spokesman for Mr Rishi said a “transition period” would be introduced, with details likely to follow a consultation on the plan.

Owners could face a requirement to neuter their dogs and muzzle them in public, the Government’s chief vet has suggested.