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Pit bull rescues owner from shark attack on Calif. beach

Darby, a 45-kilogram pit bull, saved its owner, James White, from a shark attack in California.
Darby, a 45-kilogram pit bull, saved its owner, James White, from a shark attack in California. Via NBC Bay Area

Man’s best friend became shark‘s worst nightmare on a fateful fishing trip to the beach in California last month.

Fisherman James White is crediting his one-year-old pit bull, Darby, with saving him from a shark that latched onto his leg in the shallow waters of Bodega Bay, on the coast of central California, NBC News reports.

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White accidentally hooked the sevengill shark, which measured 1.8 metres long, and was trying to set it free when it attacked him on July 21.

“As I’m trying to get the hook out it turns, it pivots, and grabs onto the inside of my left ankle,” White told NBC.

The sharked latched onto White’s ankle and refused to let go, he says.

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A sevengill shark is shown in this file photo.
A sevengill shark is shown in this file photo. Oregon Coast Visitors Association/Flickr

“There was blood everywhere,” White said. “The first bite punctured the artery, and that’s when I knew this wasn’t just going to be a couple scratches. This is bad.”

White called out to a few people who were fishing down the coastline, but they were too far away.

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That’s when Darby heard its master’s call and sprang into action. The dog was waiting in White’s Jeep at the side of the road at the time, but it somehow figured out how to open the door and came bounding across the beach to the rescue, according to White.

Darby “ran down the embankment, grabbed hold of the shark behind the gills and started thrashing his head,” White said.

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The shark responded by clamping down harder, so White had to talk Darby into backing off for a moment.

Darby let go of the shark’s gills, then lunged in again to grab it by the tail. White says his dog hauled the shark out of the water, causing the fish to let go of his bloodied ankle.

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Shark attacks nine-year-old girl in Florida
Shark attacks nine-year-old girl in Florida

White says he’s mostly healed from last month’s incident. He’s just glad he didn’t lose a foot — and that Darby was on hand to save him.

“If it wasn’t for him, it could’ve gotten a lot worse,” he said.