Mum stabbed family dog dead to save daughter, 1, during brutal mauling

A US mum leapt to the defence of her one-year-old daughter and stabbed the family dog to death when it began attacking the child after she began to cry.

A pitbull latched onto the leg of little Ruby Cervantes, before a second pitbull came in and also attacked the child at around 10.20pm local time on Sunday in Pico Rivera, a city located in south-eastern Los Angeles County, California.

The mum initially tried to yank the dogs off the child, but when that didn't work she grabbed a blade.

Jamie, who suffered facial injuries during the attack, stabbed the dogs – killing one.

"I had to stab the dog … I had to," she told KTLA. "It was either him or my daughter and I chose my daughter."

Ruby's grandmother Margaret Morales told ABC 7: "I walked into the kitchen and that's when I (saw)…my two daughters and my son on the floor trying to get the dogs off. Finally, my daughter got up…and that's when I (saw) my granddaughter."

Margaret had owned the dogs, who came from the same litter, since they were puppies.

"I (saw) the dog was latched on her left leg. That's when I had to actually get my hand into his jaws and open them up and that's when he released her," she added.

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"He had her by the leg and I had to get his teeth off of her," Margaret also told KTLA, adding, "He bit my hand and my hand's pretty severely cut open."

"I thought my daughter was going to die," Jamie said.

"But she's strong," Margaret added.

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The dog that survived will be taken to animal control and will be euthanised, per NBC Los Angeles.

"Like many others this morning I was horrified and dismayed at the news of the unprovoked attack on a one year child by a family's pit bulls," Pico Rivera Mayor Monica Sanchez said in a statement, according to KTLA.

"I'd like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and best wishes for a swift recovery for the child and injured members of the family."

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