HE weighed just 15kg - no match for the powerful 57kg bull mastiff cross that, over 15 horrifying minutes, ended the life of a beautiful toddler.
Deeon Higgins never had a chance when the dog, named Kingston, attacked the two-year-old in his grandmother's Deniliquin home, in the Riverina, on Sunday.
Kingston had never attacked anyone before, according to the family, so why he pounced was a mystery.
Police who saw the aftermath said dogs such as Kingston were bred differently and "you really can never relax with these dogs as family pets".
But horse racing legend Roy Higgins, Deeon's great-uncle, last night said these breeds should not be allowed in the country: "Unfortunately, this lovely young boy has been a victim of that."
"It's just so sad to see a young beautiful life like that taken. The country has got to start looking at these animals that have been allowed in," Mr Higgins, a famous jockey, said.
Deeon's cousin, two-year-old Kingston's owner, is unlikely to be charged because the dog was not a prohibited breed and registered with the council.
DOG MAULS TODDLER TO DEATH
The cousin also offered a heartfelt apology on Facebook: "I'll never know what happen(ed) but it's left me with a big hole in my heart. I'm sorry! I love you!"
Family members said they did not blame him, putting the death down to a tragic accident.
Deeon had been getting an ice-cream from the outdoor freezer at his grandmother Joyce Higgins' home about 2.30pm on Sunday.
The 71-year-old was looking after Deeon while his mother Vicki Higgins shopped. She rushed outside when she heard his screams and managed to pry him from the dog's jaws and take him inside the house. But the powerful pet followed and took hold of him again. This time, the grandmother was too frail to save him - at one point collapsing from exhaustion. Deeon's mother returned 15 minutes into the attack and fought Kingston off, but the toddler died a short time after arriving at hospital. His grandmother was treated for exhaustion, bruising and abrasions but later discharged. The dog has been put down.
Deeon's uncle Greg Hill said yesterday that Deeon's mother and grandmother were "traumatised". "They're not real good," he said.
Close family friend and deputy mayor Ashley Hall said it had been a "horrific couple of days" for the family. "They're in shock and really trying to take it all in now," he said.
"The dog was familiar with quite a lot of the grandkids who go there and frequent the grandmother's house.
"She's devastated because she's so exhausted and can't believe it happened. Joyce's life is her grandkids."
How pollies dogged a dangerous-canine law
THE state government failed to commit to tougher dangerous dog laws, despite receiving in February a suite of recommendations from a taskforce chaired by Local Government Minister Don Page.
A spokesman for Mr Page said the government would consider introducing a new category of "menacing dog" and would write to the Prime Minister in support of a national dangerous dog register, but is still consulting the public on other ways to keep people safe from dangerous pets.
Mr Page also refused to commit to tougher penalties for owners of dangerous dogs who do not comply with the law.
Owners of dangerous dogs have to keep them in secure enclosures, muzzle them, and make them wear distinctive collars when out in public.
It is also illegal to leave a dangerous dog in the care of a person under the age of 18. The dangerous dog report delivered to the state government suggested giving councils the power to immediately seize dangerous dogs if they are not registered, abolishing the seven-day compliance period currently given to owners.
It said the seven-day notice period allowed irresponsible owners to move the dog on the day council arrives to inspect the property, allowing the animal to remain unregistered.
The government has also been asked to introduce mandatory annual registration for dogs, to educate the community about restricted breeds and to push for hospitals and GPs to report all dog attacks. It recommended councils should also be able to declare a dangerous dog automatically, if there was evidence that dog was declared dangerous in another state.
Mr Page's spokesman said the government was considering 5000 public submissions on the recommendations. "The NSW government is committed to promoting responsible dog ownership and will continue to provide councils with the necessary powers to help prevent dog attacks from occurring in this state," he said.
Premier Barry O'Farrell said dangerous dogs were the responsibility of pet owners.
"The solution is more responsible ownership," he said.
Opposition local government spokeswoman Sophie Cotsis said the government was wasting time and needed to urgently review penalties for dangerous dog owners who do not comply with the law. Owners can be fined $1320 for failing to register their dog, or not keeping it properly enclosed, and there is a maximum penalty of $55,000 or two years jail for the owner of a dangerous dog who attacks or bites a person. "The government has to properly resource councils so they can ensure enforcement and compliance," Ms Cotsis said. "Dog owners have a huge responsibility to make sure they comply with the law, and the government should review the penalties for not doing so."
Ms Cotsis wants a dangerous dogs hotline, a measure introduced by the Victorian government following a coroners report on a fatal attack.
Read more: No Cookies | thetelegraph.com.au