A Jack Russell terrier has died after saving five children from a mauling by two savage pitbulls.
The tiny dog, called George, leapt to the defence of the children when the two rogue pitbulls threatened them on the way to a dairy in the Taranaki township of Manaia.
The South Taranaki District Council said after Sunday's attack that it intends hunting down all dangerous and unregistered dogs and neutering them.
Richard Rosewarne, 11, said the pitbulls came up behind them and were going for his brother Darryl Wilson, 4.
"George tried to protect us by barking and rushing at them, but they started to bite him -- one on the head and the other on the back," he told the Taranaki Daily News.
"We ran off crying and some people saw what was happening and rescued George."
But nine-year-old George was so badly ripped apart he had to be put down.
Vet Steven Hopkinson, of South Taranaki Animal Health Services, said the injuries were the worst he had seen.
George's owner, Alan Gay, 69, said pitbulls should be banned.
"They're killers and it comes from them being bred for fighting."
Mr Gay lives alone and George had been his faithful companion for about seven years.
The dogs disappeared after the attack, but yesterday dog rangers removed two pitbulls from a Manaia property.
South Taranaki environment services manager Graham Young said he was fairly certain the dogs were involved in Sunday's attack.
They have been impounded awaiting destruction. The council would also be looking to prosecute the owners, Mr Young said.
The attacks have prompted the council to introduce desexing of aggressive dogs, which it is empowered to take by the Dog Control Act.