A MAN traumatised after being savaged by a Japanese Akita while protecting a child hit out at the sentence given to the dog’s owner.

Dave Benson, 31, was hailed a hero after he threw himself in front of the Akita after it pounced on a child in a playground, off Luncines Road, Pitsea, last October.

But he said he was lucky to be alive after the canine turned on him, mauling his arms as tried to restrain the animal. Mr Benson had to undergo reconstructive surgery.

The dog’s owner, Nick Hart, 24, of The Greenstead, Basildon, received an 18-month conditional discharge, was ordered to pay £2,500 compensation and allowed to keep the animal.

Mr Benson, of Pitsea, said: “I know it is not necessarily the dog’s fault. It is the owner. But how can the courts rule this savage machine be kept alive?

“It’s worrying for the public, as I’m sure the dog would have killed the child easily and could have killed me.”

Mr Benson said he stepped in as he owns a five-year-old Akita, so thought he knew how to deal with the situation.

He said the dog immediately set upon him, biting his arms. He managed to restrain it for about five minutes until passers-by helped hold down the animal before police were called.

He added: “It set on me like it was going to rip my throat out. I grabbed it by the neck and restrained it, but if I hadn’t known how to deal with these dogs then I would have been killed.

“The sentence handed down is outrageous.

It’s like if you shot me, and the courts told you you were able to keep the gun afterwards.”

He spent two nights in hospital needing reconstructive surgery to piece together his arms. He suffered severe muscle damage.

Mr Benson said he has been left mentally scarred by the episode, and regularly has nightmares.

Hart was sentenced by Basildon magistrates last week after admitting owning a dog which was out of control and dangerous in public, and causing injury.

He was allowed to keep the dog, as long as the house it is kept in is locked, and as long as he ensured the animal was muzzled and leashed at all times in public.

The Crown Prosecution Service declined to comment on the sentence.