AN Exeter pensioner has been left heartbroken after her beloved pet dog was savaged to death in a city park.
Diana Walton was taking her daily walk with Folly, her nine-year-old Yorkshire terrier, in Belmont Pleasure Ground, when a "Staffie-type dog" came out of nowhere and grabbed it by the neck.
Ms Walton required medical assistance at the scene from an ambulance crews after watching helplessly while her dog was mauled to death.
An urgent meeting has now been called by police and city council officials which will discuss whether dogs should be allowed off leads in the park.
Ms Walton said: "It was horrendous. This dog came like a bolt out of the blue – Folly didn't even know it was there as she was playing with another dog she knows. The dog grabbed Folly and just shook her and ripped her throat out. She was covered in blood."
City police officers were quickly on the scene after a friend who was with Ms Walton called for help on her mobile phone.
There were children playing in the park at the time and they also witnessed the attack.
Ms Walton said: "We were just walking as we always walk and this enormous great Staffie-type dog shook and shook Folly until she was dead.
"This dog should never have been off the lead. I think it should be put down as it could just as easily have been a child it went for."
The pensioner said a man with the dog tried to pull it off without success. When he did eventually get it on the lead he walked away without saying a word. Ms Walton, who has had Folly since she was a pup, said: "She never went far from me as she was obsessed with keeping me in her sight.
"I had just bought Folly a nice new bed. She was a happy little dog and was never still. I didn't need an alarm clock with her.
"I don't think I can live without her, she was all I had."
Richard Westlake, county councillor for Newtown and Polsloe, said: "I was walking through the park the other day and saw a little dog chasing around after a ball, perfectly happily and no trouble, so are we saying that all dogs should be kept on the lead because of problems caused by just one or two?
"That would seem to be a shame.
"Perhaps the answer is that certain dogs should only be in the park if they are wearing a muzzle."
Environment bosses at the city council have said they are keen to hear the views of dog owners before considering tighter controls over pets in Belmont Pleasure Ground.
Robert Norley, assistant director of environment in Exeter, told the Echo: "The current dog control order covering Belmont Park allows an authorised officer, such as an environmental protection officer, to require a dog owner to leash their dog if it is causing a problem.
"So if there was a particular issue with a certain dog owner, then the council can be called to deal with that owner and resolve any problem with their dog.
"We would want to hear the views of park users about any long-standing problem with dogs before considering any tighter controls on the way dog-owners and their pets use the park."