A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy was killed yesterday when he was savaged by a dog

as he built a snowman on a school playing field near his home.

Dean Parker suffered severe head and neck injuries in the attack by a

mastiff crossbreed and was pronounced dead on arrival in hospital.

The incident happened as he played with his friend Edward Davies,

eight, on the playing fields of their school, Overfields Primary, not

far from his home in Starbeck Way, Middlesbrough, at about 9.30am.

Two other boys were walking the powerful dog nearby as Dean and Edward

gathered snow to make their snowman.

The dog appeared friendly at first, playing with the boys and leaping

at a giant snowball they had rolled, smashing it into pieces.

Edward, who had gone off to find more snow, turned round after hearing

Dean cry out and saw his friend being savaged.

He was not strong enough to pull the dog away, so he ran for help to

nearby houses. Dean's father Stephen rushed to his son's aid -- but it

was too late.

''It appears the dog went out of control and attacked Dean, who died

from the injuries sustained,'' said Inspector Michael Sedlatschek of

Cleveland Police.

''We have got the dog at the police station.''

Last night the keeper of the dog, a two-year-old named Tutu, said he

was devastated. Mr Paul Sanderland, of Ryhill Walk, Middlesbrough, who

is understood to have been looking after it while its owner was abroad,

said: ''I can express my sorrow but that is no good to the lad's family.

I would rather it had been me.

''I never thought Tutu would behave like that. He is a family pet who

gets knocked about by all the kids and has never so much as growled at


He said his two eldest sons Gareth, 10, and Craig, seven, had taken

Tutu for a walk on a lead but the dog managed to pull free while jumping

about in the snow.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Graham Allen said: ''This tragic incident

underlines the gaping holes that we have long identified in the

dangerous dogs legislation.

''It would appear from early reports that this particular breed may

not even be listed as a dangerous dog.''

Mrs Elaine Davies, mother of Dean's friend Edward, said last night:

''It is horrific, we're all in a state of shock. We just can't believe


''Edward said the dog attacked the snowman they were building first.

He ran off to get some more snow to repair it, and he heard Dean

shouting for him.

''He turned around and saw the dog savaging Dean. He ran back and

tried to pull the dog off, but he just wasn't strong enough.''

Dean has a brother, Carl, 10, and a four-year-old sister Leigh.

A mastiff is a large and powerful working dog which during Roman times

was pitted against bears, lions, tigers, bulls, other dogs, and human


The RSPCA's chief veterinary officer Terence Bate said: ''The mastiff

is one of our biggest dogs, probably 3ft at the shoulder. It is not

necessarily more vicious than other breeds but if it does attack, it has

the sheer power in its jaws and head to kill.''

The primary school is just a few hundred yards away from Dean's home.

headmistress Mrs Anne Leonard came into the school as soon as she heard

what had happened and contacted staff.

Other victims of dog attacks have included:

* David Parry, nine, who was savaged by three dogs in the garden of

his family's pub in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, in November 1991.

His death was due to bites from the dogs, a Great Dane, an Alsatian, and

a Lakeland Terrier.

* Frank Tempest, a Lincoln bakery worker, who had his nose ripped off

and his face disfigured by two pit bull terriers.

* Four boys were badly savaged in February 1990 after three

Rottweilers went on a rampage in a school playground.

* In August this year a dog breeder lay bleeding for five hours after

an Alsatian attacked her.

* Schoolgirl Beverley Hirst was attacked by a pack of at least 12 dogs

when she tried to stroke one of the animals. She needed more than 200

stitches after the attack in August 1992, with at least 100 to her face.

* In 1989 Kellie Lynch of Dundee died after she was attacked by two

Rottweilers while walking on the seafront at Dunoon.