BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police and prosecutors are investigating after a dog viciously attacked a little girl in Bayonne Friday morning.

Despina Shnouda, 5, was walking with her father on her way to school when the dog charged the fence and attacked, CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported.

“The gate was open,” Despina’s father, Safwat Shnouda, said. But other neighbors said the gate was locked and the dog jumped over the fence from the steps, Sloan reported.

Neighbors and someone driving by on a bus full of special needs students then rushed in to try to help the girl.

“The dog finally got a hold of the girl and started biting her head. So the dog was mauling and the bus assistant got off the bus and started punching the dog,” said witness Avery Jefferson. “The bus assistant sprained his hand from punching the dog so hard.”

Jefferson said the owner of the dog told a police officer to do something, so the officer told everyone to back up and then fatally shot the dog.

Despina suffered several injuries, including a two-inch gash to her head that needed stitches, Sloan reported. She also received four shots for rabies.

Despina’s father was also injured as he tried to protect his little girl.

“He bit me on my hand. I tried to protect my daughter the best I can,” he said.

One of the dog’s owners was also injured while he tried to pull the dog off Despina.

Neighbors said his roommate, the primary owner, had died just three days ago.

“I am more than sorry. I am more than sorry,” the man said.

Despina’s 8-year-old friend who was with her at the time was still so shocked she couldn’t find words to describe what happened.

One neighbor said the pit bull had turned on its owners before.

“This dog and the mother attacked the two partners and police came here,” the woman said.

“I know that they weren’t vicious people, and would never want this to happen,” said neighbor Janeene Troy.

Investigators will be testing the dog to see if it had rabies.

No charges have been filed. But Bayonne’s health department said it may issue a fine because the dog was unlicensed.

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