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Toddler mauled by pitbull in Primrose Hill playground

PUBLISHED: 16:59 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:29 07 September 2010

Maurice Lambert

Maurice Lambert

A TODDLER has been left scarred for life after he was mauled by a pitbull in Primrose Hill. Two-year-old Maurice Lambert, from Belsize Park, was tossed about like a rag doll when an American Staffordshire bull terrier attacked him on Saturday afternoon

A TODDLER has been left scarred for life after he was mauled by a pitbull in Primrose Hill.

Two-year-old Maurice Lambert, from Belsize Park, was tossed about like a "rag doll" when an American Staffordshire bull terrier attacked him on Saturday afternoon.

He was left with deep gashes around his ankle after the attack in the children's playground in the Royal Park off Prince Albert Road at 3pm.

The dog's owner tried to flee the scene but was chased and held by three parents, including the boy's dad, Danny Maguire, until the police arrived.

Mr Maguire told the Ham&High of the shocking moment when the dog turned on his son. "It just got hold of his ankle and shook him like a rag doll," he said.

"It was like Jaws or those programmes you see with killer whales and seals.

"This is a place where people think their toddlers will be safe. I think any parent who had been in that park and saw it happen would not go back."

Maurice has had to undergo two operations to his leg at the Royal Free hospital to repair damage to his tendons.

Doctors have told Mr Maguire and Maurice's mother, Claire Lambert, from Parkhill Road, that their son will need plastic surgery in the future to lessen the scarring.

Ms Lambert said: "I am just a wreck, to be honest. Seeing Maurice go through this and thinking it could have been prevented, it's like living in a nightmare and thinking when is it going to end."

Police took the dog owner, a 35-year-old man, to Kentish Town police station to be questioned, but he was not arrested.

"He never even stopped to see what Maurice's injuries were," said Ms Lambert. "He just ran away. That is appalling."

The dog is being held in police kennels while officers make further enquiries.

Maurice's parents are now demanding a review of safety at the playground after the attack which they say could have been avoided.

Mr Maguire said: "A gate on the park would have stopped this and a muzzle on the dog would definitely have prevented it. Letting dogs in playgrounds is like putting sharks in swimming pools.

"They have put in this new thing at the playground which plays music when kids jump on it. It looks like it costs an absolute fortune.

"Only in Primrose Hill would you get something like that. It was definitely that toy which attracted the dog."

Other dog owners were keen to avoid a knee-jerk reaction against dogs such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers and other pitbulls. Richard Webb, 26 of Leybourne Road, said: "It's easy for people to see pitbulls as devil dogs.

"I own three dogs, a cocker spaniel, a bulldog and a pitbull, and the pitbull is by far the friendliest.

"The sad thing is that that child will probably grow up fearing those types of dogs."

A spokeswoman for The Royal Parks said: "The children's playground area in Primrose Hill is staffed by a playground attendant, and is surrounded by a fence with a gate. All playground equipment conforms to European safety standards and safety audits of playground areas are undertaken regularly.

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