A 12-year-old Banning boy was mauled by a pit bull at his residence, in an attack that authorities said Wednesday could have turned fatal but for the actions of two men who intervened.

The child was in the front yard of his family property in the 1500 block of North Alessandro Street, near Ensign Street, about 6 p.m. Tuesday when the 10-year-old female pit bull latched onto him, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

Officer Carra Mathewson said two men replacing a battery in a pickup truck parked next door heard the child’s frantic screams and ran over to see what was happening.

According to Mathewson, the canine clamped down on the boy’s right leg, then bit his right arm, before the good Samaritans were able to reach him. She said a woman, possibly one of the child’s family members, was striking the dog with a broom, trying to make the animal release its grip, but to no avail.

One man grabbed the dog around the neck, and his friend yanked its hind legs out from under it, at which point the canine broke off the attack, according to Mathewson.

“One of the men told me the dog was attacking the boy in a manner that appeared the dog was trying to eat the kid,” she said. “The other man said the dog looked like it was not going to stop attacking. I sincerely believe their actions were heroic. These men likely saved the boy’s life.”

They were seconds away from departing the location to buy parts at an auto shop, and it was a turn of luck for them to still be there when the dog went after the boy, she said.

The youngster was taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he was treated for bites to his arm and leg, after which he was sent home to recover.

Mathewson seized the dog and transported it to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms. It was unclear whether the animal belonged at the property where the mauling happened.

Officials said the pit bull’s owner, whose identity was not released, has indicated he wishes to keep the canine, so the Department of Animal Services will convene a hearing to determine whether the dog is a public danger and should be euthanized, or if it’s safe to return the dog to the owner under certain conditions and after fines are paid.

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