An eight-year-old boy has been attacked by a dog as he played near his house.

The youngster needed hospital treatment for puncture wounds and cuts after being savaged by the animal, an American bully dog.

The boy's mother Imogen, who does not wish to be fully named, told The Argus about the horrific moment he was attacked in Badgers Walk, Burgess Hill, on Wednesday last week.

Etienne, eight, has autism, and Imogen said it “takes a lot” for him to be out with other children playing as he was that afternoon.

He was on a patch of grass near his home when suddenly the dog escaped from its front door, ran at Etienne and attacked him.

The Argus: Etienne, eight, was bitten five timesEtienne, eight, was bitten five times (Image: Imogen)

He was bitten five times before the owner managed to pull the dog off him.

Imogen immediately drove Etienne to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

His wounds were treated and he stayed in hospital until the early hours of the morning.

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Etienne has ten puncture wounds and lacerations from the attack and had to go back to hospital on Friday for further treatment.

The Argus: One of the five bite wounds on Etienne's armsOne of the five bite wounds on Etienne's arms (Image: Imogen)

“By the fourth bite my son was on the floor,” said Imogen. “Medical staff at the hospital said the pattern and number of bites shows that the dog could do serious harm and even kill a toddler.”

The dog is a puppy and Imogen said she is fearful about what it will be capable of once fully grown.

Imogen said she contacted police five times before they visited her and her son the following day.

She added: “The police response has shocked me to the core.

“It is like a ticking time bomb now, waiting for when the next attack will happen.”

The Argus: The grass where Etienne was playing with some friendsThe grass where Etienne was playing with some friends (Image: Imogen)

Sussex Police said an investigation has been launched.

The force said the child suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital following the incident.

Chief Inspector Ben Starns, District Commander for Crawley and Mid Sussex said: “We recognise that this was a distressing incident for those affected and the wider community.

“Officers launched an investigation immediately, which is ongoing, which has included a visit to the dog owner’s home and the victim’s home.

“Officers also carried out an initial safety assessment of the dog, which is understood to be a 17-week old American bully puppy.

“The supporting paperwork and Microchip for the dog have been checked and it is not thought to be a restricted breed.

“A risk-based decision has been made to not seize the dog at this time, but the owner has been given advice around the safety and security of their dog while we conduct our investigation.”

Police ask witnesses or anyone with relevant information about the incident to report it to Sussex Police online, quoting serial 38 of 02/02.