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Published on Mar 23, 2012

Five policemen were in hospital last night after being savaged by a dog as they hunted a suspected violent kidnapper.

The officers were said to have 'life-changing' wounds as serious as those seen after a shootout.

One officer had his arm broken between the animal's jaws, while others had chunks of flesh torn from their legs and arms. Some will require plastic surgery, and one could lose several fingers.

A police marksman brought the carnage to an end when he blasted the dog four times with a shotgun after it was cornered in the street.

Neighbours revealed they had reported the animal, described as a brown dobermann/pitbull cross called Poison, to the council several times.

They said it was responsible for other attacks, including one in which a builder was pulled from his bicycle and mauled so badly 'it looked like he was being eaten alive'.

Police chiefs suspect criminals and gang members are deliberately breeding vicious animals as weapons.

The attack took place on a residential street in Stratford, east London, where patches of dried blood remain visible along a 30ft stretch of the road.

Witnesses said the dog ran free after a team searching a man wanted for grievous bodily harm and kidnap broke down the door of a terraced house.

Mobile phone footage taken by a passer-by shows the animal pouncing on one policeman and biting his arm.

The officer tries to fight the dog off by grabbing at its neck -- but the animal is too strong.

At one point, it clamps its jaws so tightly around the man's limb that it is lifted off the ground when he tries to shake it off.

A colleague is seen climbing on to a wall to escape the animal.

The dog was finally cornered by a dozen officers who arrived from a nearby station armed with riot shields.

Colleagues from the Metropolitan Police's CO19

armed unit then arrived and shot it.

Dennis Clarke, 71, said he called Newham Council three years ago to register his fears but was told officials could not do anything until the dog bit someone.

Describing the latest attack, he said: 'The first I knew was when I heard someone yelling: "Help! Help!"

'I came out my front door, and I could see the dog had the police officer's leg and it wouldn't let go. It was hanging off him.'

Student Gemma Smith, 27, added: 'I woke up to screaming and I thought someone had been stabbed.'

She said officers told residents to go inside once they cornered the animal.

'I heard gun shots. When I looked out of the window, the dog was shaking on the ground.'

A police source said four of the five officers suffered 'life-changing injuries', and that one may need to have one or more fingers amputated.

'They have suffered some really nasty injuries; broken bones, gashes that will need dozens of stitches and even plastic surgery,' he said.

'The injuries are as bad as being shot. It has taken out huge chunks of flesh.'

All five were said to be in a stable condition at the Royal London Hospital last night.

The Met confirmed last night a 25-year-old man arrested at the scene was being questioned over the attack, who has now been named.

Newham Council confirmed it had investigated a complaint that the dog had attacked a cyclist last April, and said the case was discussed with police in June.

An inquiry is under way to establish why officers did not know the dog was in the property.

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