A witness is hailing the bravery of an Auckland teenager and police officer who were savaged by a dog.
The 17-year-old boy was attacked while walking his father's pitbull in a west Auckland cemetery on Saturday.
Constable Ben Klinkenberg was called to Waikumete Cemetery on Saturday after witnesses heard the boy's screams.
Neighbour Clementine Ludlow said the teenager, called Caleb, tried to hold off the dog but had bleeding hands.
Ms Ludlow, at home with her young son, phoned 111 called out to the boy she was getting help. "It was awful, it was just a horrible, horrible thing to witness."
She said Constable Klinkenberg then arrived and used pepper spray to try to overcome the pitbull.
"The dog was just going for him and he would boot the dog out of the way and the dog would just leap back towards him.
"I mean I've never seen anything like it and it still shakes me up now thinking about it."
The dog latched on to and tore Mr Klinkenberg's protective vest and the 28-year-old needed stitches in his punctured arm.
The officer and teenager were taken to hospital and police said the young man would need plastic surgery.
Ms Ludlow told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday she believed the teenager's family had decided to put the dog down.
The constable's commanding officer, Superintendent Bill Searle, told Checkpoint on Monday the use of pepper spray allowed the young man to escape.
Mr Searle said once the dog was sprayed, it turned on the officer and attacked him. He said the pitbull had been attacking the boy for up to 15 minutes.