TWO young boys were viciously attacked by dogs in Enfield last week, leaving one needing a dozen stitches in his arm.

Joe Elston, ten, was taken to Chase Farm Hospital, in The Ridgeway, after being attacked by a Rottweiler in Swan and Pike Road on September 5.

Three-year-old Tommy Bennett was walking home from Forty Hall with his mother Sarah, 28, last Wednesday, when he was knocked over by a large black Staffordshire bull terrier, which scratched him below his eye.

Speaking about the first incident, Jayne Elston, 38, of Brunswick Road, said: "Joe was playing with his brother and friends when they started talking to this man, who had two Rottweilers on leashes.

"He asked the man if they bit people, and he said no. But as soon as he said that, one of them just went for Joe.

"I ran over immediately and found him sitting on the kerb really quietly, holding his arm. It looked terrible, though luckily it hadn't hit a vein.

"He was really upset and in a lot of pain, and one of the other little boys was so upset he was sick.

"All I can do is warn people that these dogs do bite, and to be aware that you should never approach them, even if they are on a lead."

Meanwhile Mrs Bennett, of Tynemouth Drive, said her three-year-old son Tommy was left shaken after last Wednesday's attack.

She said: "The dog just came speeding up to us and knocked him over. I'm not very tall, but I tried holding Tommy as high up as I could. The dog kept barking, though, and trying to get to my little boy.

"The owner came strolling along and it took him 15 minutes to control the dog. In the end he had to sit on it.

"It wasn't until I was bathing Tommy later that I realised he had a scratch on his cheek and another by his eye."

Mrs Bennett expressed concern that, with two primary schools in the area, other children might be at risk. However, she said the police were unable to take any action because she did not have the man's name or address.

She added: "I think he knew I was going to call the police. While I was looking for my phone, I saw him running off towards Forty Hall.

"Tommy kept asking me: 'Mummy, have I been naughty?' If he'd been any nearer to the river, he could've been knocked in."

Pit bulls are covered by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which forces owners to keep their dogs muzzled and on leashes at all times in public, but there are no rules governing Rottweilers and Staffordshire bull terriers.

However, Klare Kennett, RSPCA spokeswoman for the south-east, advised owners of all potentially aggressive dogs to abide by the legal guidelines.

She said: "It is not an issue of animal welfare, but of public safety. I would advise everyone with a dog that is at risk of biting people to keep it muzzled and on a lead when out in public. Then they can be reassured it will be safe.

"Also, they could take it to a dog behaviourist to train it to behave in a more socially acceptable way."

Ms Kennett stressed that it was the owners, not the dogs, who should be termed "dangerous".

"Ideally we would prefer to see dogs with responsible owners who look after them properly," she said. "With owners who treat them correctly, these dogs can be very good, very gentle, very docile."