A 62-year-old delivery driver thanked a fearless stranger for saving his life after his arm was snapped in two during a savage dog attack in Bierley.

Dad-of-two Chris Hirst told how an American bulldog locked its teeth into his right arm and threw him around “like a ragdoll” during the horrific ten-minute mauling, saying: “I thought it was going to kill me”.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus from his bed at Leeds General Infirmary last night, Mr Hirst said he owed his life to 27-year-old Danny Gomersall, who hit the powerful dog over the head with a shovel at least ten times to stop the attack.

Mr Hirst said: “I owe him my life. If he hadn’t come along it probably would have gone for my head and ripped it off.

“I thought I’d never see my wife and kids again. If it had been a kid they would have died.”

Mr Hirst, who is due to become a grandfather for the first time later this year, described how he was delivering prescription medication to an address on Fairfax Crescent, where the dog lives, when he was savaged.

“I don’t think I’d even got both feet through the gate when it came running round, locked onto my arm and started dragging me round the garden, throwing me around like a ragdoll,” he said.

“I could see it coming towards me, but it was like it was in slow motion. I could see it leaping up at me, but I couldn’t move.

“It locked onto my arm, ragged me to the floor and started shaking its head, thrashing me about.

“I could see my hand was hanging off my arm on the floor and thought ‘that’s curtains for that’.

“It’s a really quiet cul-de-sac, so I don’t know what would have happened if Danny hadn’t come along.

“It was just horrendous.”

Dad-of-one Mr Gomersall, who visited Mr Hirst in hospital yesterday, said he saw the pharmacy worker’s forearm was “left hanging by the skin” and described how he covered the protruding bone with a pillow case while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

“His hand was facing the wrong way,” said Mr Gomersall.

“The bone was sticking through his jumper so I covered that up so he didn’t go into shock.”

The refrigeration engineer told how he was in the garden of his home on Fairfax Crescent with his two-year-old daughter when he heard screams.

With no concern for his own safety, he took on the dog and dragged Mr Hirst to safety, even returning to the garden to retrieve Mr Hirst’s belongings.

Mr Gomersall, who races greyhounds for a hobby, found Mr Hirst lying in the foetus position, desperately trying to protect himself from the dog’s jaws.

“I thought the dog would kill him if I didn’t get it off him. It probably would have eaten him.”

Mr Gomersall had raced back to his house, picked up a shovel and said he hit the muscular animal at least ten times on the head – with a final blow to the shoulder forcing the dog to back off.

“I didn’t want the dog to kill him – I am just glad he’s alive and hopefully on the mend.

“I wasn’t scared, I just knew I had to get in there and save that man – he was running out of energy.

“I love dogs and I didn’t want to hit it. I have been in that garden before and fed the dog – I have never known it to be like that before.”

Mr Hirst, of Tyersal, was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary after the attack, before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary where he remains. He has already undergone two operations, will have a third today and a fourth on Monday to take muscle from his back to place in his arm.

As well as the injuries to his right arm, he is believed to have suffered a fracture and bites to his left arm, as well as puncture wounds to his thighs.

Mr Hirst said he had lost three inches of bone from his right arm and, although doctors hoped it could be fixed, he was “not out of the woods yet”.

He said: “The staff here have been absolutely brilliant, from the surgeons to the nurses.”

A colleague at Bierley Pharmacy, where Mr Hirst has worked delivering prescriptions for five years, said: “He is such a lovely guy – all the customers love him.”

A police spokesman said American bulldogs were not on the national dangerous dogs list.

He added: “Officers are in close contact with the family of the complainant and supporting them where necessary. We are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident and enquiries remain ongoing.”

The front gate of the property where the attack happened is adorned with signs warning of a dog that “bites”. When the T&A visited, the gate was padlocked shut.

The Government announced in February that it would extend the dangerous dogs legislation to make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in any place, including all private property.