Tributes have been paid to a dad 'who wouldn't hurt a fly' mauled to death by XL Bully while out walking his new puppy.

The victim of a ferocious attack - now being treated as murder - has been named by a close friend as Ian Langley, 54, known to friends as Scouse.

The father of one, originally from Liverpool, had been walking Beau, his Patterdale terrier puppy close to his home in Shiney Row when he was attacked.

The Northern Echo: Ian 'Scouse' LangleyIan 'Scouse' Langley (Image: FACEBOOK)

Read more: Murder investigation launched as man dies after 'XL Bully' dog attack

Mr Langley, who lived alone, doted on Beau, who had become his faithful companion.

Friend Rachael Barron, 31, said: "It's absolutely devastating that this has happened to him, he is a lovely, kind man.

"He's very slight of build and could not hurt a fly, he would have stood no chance against a dog as big as that, it makes me feel sick to think about it.The Northern Echo: Police at scene of 'XL Bully' attack in Shiney Row

Read more: Residents saw awful 'XL Bully' attack that killed man, 54, as another man arrested

"Scouse would come to our house three or four times a day and would stay for meals or just to chat.

"He split up with his partner a little while ago and lived alone but he liked company so would come over just to chat and he was lovely with our children.

"He has a son of his own who lives abroad, it is such a tragedy for him as well.

Read more:  LIVE: Murder investigation launched after man dies following XL Bully attack in Sunderland

"Yesterday Scouse went to the local church where he had his lunch and came to ours later because he'd left Beau with us to look after.

"He was happy, he said he'd had a lovely meal and was happy to come back to Beau. He absolutely loved his dog, he was a reall dog lover.

"His dog Smudge, which he'd had for many years, died quite recently and he didn't know what to do with himself without him.The Northern Echo: Police at scene of 'XL Bully' attack in Shiney Row

"My partner and I encouraged him to get another dog and we found him Beau, who he got when he was eight weeks old. They were together all the time and he was always out walking him.

"I don't know exactly what has happened but if another dog was trying to get at Beau, Scouse would have done anything to protect him.

"We have been devastated, I haven't even been able to tell the kids yet, they will be so upset. Everyone knew and liked him, he was a lovely guy.

Read more: 'Absolute chaos': Shocked residents speak out on fatal North East 'XL Bully' attack

"He didn't work but spent all his time with Beau or helping out in people's allotments. He just liked to be around people."The Northern Echo: Police at scene of 'XL Bully' attack in Shiney Row

Neighbours in Maple Terrace where the attack occured said the XL Bully had previously been reported to the police for attacking other dogs.

One said: "The police knew about this dog, there had been a number of reports from dog owners about it attacking their dogs. Nothing was done about it and now this has happened."

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: " A murder investigation has been launched after a man was fatally injured by a dog in Sunderland.

Shortly before 6.55pm yesterday, we received a report that a dog had injured a man outside of an address on Maple Terrace in Shiney Row.

Emergency services attended the scene and the man, aged 54, was taken to hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries.

Despite the best efforts of medical staff, he sadly passed away last night.

The man’s next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specially-trained officers. We ask their privacy is respected at this difficult time.

A 44-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent to cause Grievous Bodily Harm.

Following the man’s death, he has since been re-arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody at this time.

The dog was destroyed at the scene to ensure the safety of the public.

While further assessment will be carried out, officers believe the dog to be an XL Bully breed.

A second dog, also believed to be an XL Bully breed, was also seized as a precaution.

Our thoughts go out to the man's family and loved ones at this tragic time.

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A full investigation has been launched to determine the circumstances of what has happened.

There is no risk to the wider community, and officers will remain in the area to offer reassurance and carry out enquiries.

While our investigation is at an early stage, we do believe those involved were known to each other."