A pit bull who faced being put down even though he was thought to have saved a nine-year-old boy from drowning, has been spared after a petition went viral.
The dog, named Buddy, is believed to have dragged the child from the Murray River in Australia, where his mother was allegedly attempting to drown him. His five-year-old brother was found dead over the weekend.
During the melee, the pet is thought to have bitten the eldest boy who was treated for dog bites at a children's hospital. As a result, he was seized by rangers.
But after an online petition launched by his owners received more than 50,000 signatures, police have ordered the dog to be returned home.
"I just want to tell everyone that our boy buddy is coming home he has a few things to get into place before he comes home but the main thing is he is coming home," said the dog's owner Jess Smith, in a statement on the online petition.
Murray River Council interim general manager Margot Stork said it was "likely that the dog was acting in reasonable defence of the nine-year-old boy that was subsequently hospitalised.”
She added: “The New South Wales Police have advised council that they will not be seeking an order to destroy this animal. Our Rangers are passionate about animal welfare and we will always work with residents to ensure their pets are registered, micro-chipped, and provide any advice or assistance.”
Ms Stork added that the dog has since been micro chipped and that his owner will work on correctly registering it.
The dog intervened as a 27-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, allegedly drowned the five-year-old and trying to also kill the nine-year-old in the Murray River in Moama, on the New South Wales-Victoria border, late last week.
The youngest boy’s body was found dead over the weekend.
The woman has since been charged with counts of attempted murder and murder.
The grandparents, who had custody of the children for nearly 18 months, have since accused authorities of failing to act since the mother was allegedly released from prison.
The maternal grandfather of the two young boys came out in support of the petition, telling The Courier Mail: "I own a similar dog and I know he was trying to save the boys, it's their nature when they are raised with kids.
“I have one grandson left, because this brave dog took action.”