Police search for boy, five, in Murray river as woman arrested

NSW police have set up Strike Force Bulletin after a nine-year-old child was mauled by a dog last night and his five-year-old-brother vanished at Perricoota Road, Moama.

It's understood the mother, who doesn't have custody of her sons, was released from prison recently after being arrested late previous year on two outstanding warrants.

Some time after 8pm on Thursday, the mother wandered onto a property near Moama where she had a conversation with a man who then drove her to the Echuca police station, the Riverine Herald reported.

On Wednesday, the 27-year-old mother - whose name can not be published for legal reasons - allegedly took the children from the home of their grandparents in Deniliquin, in southern NSW.

The owner of the dog, who did not wish to be named, told the Riverine Herald her dog "might actually have been trying to pull the nine-year-old to safety, not attack him".

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A hero pit bull came to the rescue of a young boy who almost drowned at the hands of his crystal meth-addicted mother, police say. "He requires some surgery for the dog bites and of course he's distressed; he's a nine-year-old boy".

He said the dog belonged to a local family.

Thirty searchers are combing the river, with Victorian Police divers and spotter planes also taking part in the search.

The older brother was taken to Echuca Hospital and later moved to Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne for treatment.

Superintendent Condon said there had been "a couple of incidents" with the family since the mother was released from jail.

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"Things like this happen and it's devastating, not only this town, the community, the whole local area command, New South Wales and Australia".

He told reporters that the case was "just bad", before going on to say that "it will rock the community of Australia".

A lawyer for the grandparents of the children said they were "devastated" and held a bedside vigil at the hospital for the boy and his brother.

The woman allegedly turned to the younger son, while the older son managed to struggle free before he was attacked by a dog.

Supt Condon said police were investigating reports the boys' grandmother had unsuccessfully tried to get help over the past month from police, corrective services and government welfare agencies.

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