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Man saved child from ‘ferocious’ dog attack

Colin Amatto died after being mauled by two dogs in Tregear in 2019. Picture: GoFundMe
Colin Amatto died after being mauled by two dogs in Tregear in 2019. Picture: GoFundMe

WARNING: This story contains the name and image of a deceased Indigenous person

A man saved the lives of a woman and child when he intervened in an attack by two dogs that then turned on him in a mauling of “extreme ferocity”, an inquest has been told.

Colin Amatto, 40, rushed to help the woman and child who had been bitten by the two dogs inside a home in the western Sydney suburb of Tregear on the afternoon of January 24, 2019.

Counsel assisting the coroner, David Kell SC, told the inquest the proud Yuin man had acted in a “brave fashion” when he intervened and caused the dogs to turn on him instead.

He said one of the dogs, a male called Boof, then “savagely” mauled” Mr Amatto before a female dog called Hope joined in on the “attack of extreme ferocity”.

Colin Amatto was fatally mauled by two dogs in his western Sydney home. Picture: Facebook
Colin Amatto was fatally mauled by two dogs in his western Sydney home. Picture: Facebook

Both dogs were described as having pit bull characteristics but an expert identified them as staffordshire bull terriers.

Mr Amatto sustained “very extensive injuries” which amounted to more than 80 wounds to his head, body and limbs.

The dogs’ owners returned home to find blood spattered on the walls, floor and on the kitchen door.

Mr Kell said the owners reported Boof and Hope were “covered in blood and their eyes were really big” after the attack. The two dogs were euthanased the next day.

The inquest heard Mr Amatto was lying on the kitchen floor, coated in his own blood and barely conscious.

“I can’t breathe,” he said before blacking out.

Mr Kell said the dog attack victim suffered a cardiac arrest but he was resuscitated by paramedics and flown to Westmead Hospital.

He underwent several surgeries but did not regain consciousness.

Mr Amatto’s family made the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support five weeks later.

Members of Mr Amatto’s family attended the inquest into his death. Picture: GoFundMe
Members of Mr Amatto’s family attended the inquest into his death. Picture: GoFundMe

Mr Kell acknowledged the “tragic circumstances” of the 40-year-old’s death after the “ferocious” attack.

“Colin was dearly loved by his family,” he said.

“His death has had a profound impact on them.”

Mr Amatto’s sister Kristy told reporters it had been a “really tough five years” since her brother succumbed to his injuries.

She said she hoped the inquest into his death and the deaths of six other dog attack victims would bring about necessary change to animal regulations.

“You see in the papers and the news all the time people being attacked by dogs,” Ms Amatto said.

“I don’t want to see any other victims and I don’t want to have to see any families have to live through the trauma that we have.”

She called for the implementation of “whatever laws we can have to keep people safe” from fatal animal attacks.

DOG ATTACKS INQUEST
Colin Amatto’s sister Kristy said she was very proud of her brother’s heroic actions. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Mr Kell told the inquest that Mr Amatto’s intervention had saved the woman and child from further serious injuries and allowed them to get out of the house.

“It is apparent (the woman and her daughter) are fortunate to be alive,” he said.

Outside court, Ms Amatto said she was “very proud” of her brother.

“Looking after other people was just in his nature,” she said.

The details of Mr Amatto’s death were revealed during an inquest into the circumstances surrounding seven fatal dog attacks that occurred between 2019 and 2023.

The inquest, which has been underway for weeks, is examining the response of local councils and police to fatal dog attacks in order to determine how to prevent further tragedies.

Mr Kell said Mr Amatto had lived with the two dogs that killed him for nearly a year before his death.

“He wrestled with Boof at times and it appears he slept with the dogs at night,” Mr Kell said.

DOG ATTACKS INQUEST
Mr Amatto’s sister Kristy and Aunty Rhonda Amatto both attended the inquest in person. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

While there were no issues that would have raised alarm bells for Mr Amatto during that time, Mr Kell noted Boof had viciously attacked Barry Grant two years earlier.

On July 24, 2017, Mr Kell said the staffie launched a “fearsome attack” on the real estate agent, latching onto his arm dragging him into the backyard.

Mr Grant said he “started screaming” and trying to shove the dog off him, but Boof continued to jump up at him.

“I thought he would go away … but he didn’t. He just kept attacking and attacking and attacking,” he said.

“It seemed he was trying to jump at my throat.”

The real estate agent estimated the dog jumped up at him 30 times, inflicting serious injuries to his hands, arms, legs and torso.

“He was very, very ferocious,” he said.

“Until it happens, you don’t realise how terrifying it is.”

Barry Grant was mauled by a dog on 24 July, 2017. Picture: Nine News
Barry Grant was mauled by a dog on 24 July, 2017. Picture: Nine News

Mr Grant was saved by a nearby teenager, who heard his screams and fended the dog off with a children’s chair.

He was “severely injured with wounds on his arms and legs”, according to the then-15-year-old.

“He had severe bite marks on his arms where flesh was ripped off, and his clothes were pretty much destroyed,” the good Samaritan told the inquest.

Boof was seized by authorities after the attack, but ultimately returned to its owner after it was determined he had been protecting the property.

“It appears no relevant action was taken by NSW Police or Penrith Council,” Mr Kell said.

The inquest will continue before deputy state coroner Carmel Forbes on Tuesday.