A mother-of-two has described how she battled to prevent a giant bird of prey carrying off the family's puppy. Sophie Patterson, 37, of Ely, Cambs, was walking Alfie, a 20-week-old Border Terrier cross, when a Harris Hawk swooped down from a tree.

The bird locked its talons around the dog's body and lifted him from the ground.

Mrs Patterson grabbed hold of the dog and a tug-of-war ensued before Alfie was pulled from the bird's clutches.

"The bird swooped down and picked Alfie up from the ground. I was holding on to his body and so the bird was only a couple of inches away from my face.

"The bird was pecking at the dog's head. It definitely could have killed him," she said.

Mrs Patterson said Alfie escaped with only a couple of minor cuts and a small hole in the top of his head.

The attack happened last Thursday evening on a field, close to Davison Road.