Pit bull
People march with their pit bull terrier dogs in support of their animals, in Medellin, Colombia, on Jan. 29, 2017. Raul Arboleda/GETTY

A Massachusetts man stabbed his family's pit bull mix to death in order to save his 1-year-old daughter Sunday, according to the Boston Herald.

The dog began attacking the girl’s face Sunday morning in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Police said the attack began shortly before 9 a.m.

“[The girl] was playing in the kitchen with the father nearby,” police said in a statement. “The family pit bull terrier attacked the child and bit her in the face causing major trauma. The father immediately attempted to separate the dog from the child, but was unable. He retrieved a pistol from an adjacent room, but when he realized that it was not loaded he grabbed a knife and began stabbing the animal in order to protect the child. The dog was fatally wounded.”

The girl was treated at home after the attack by the Falmouth Fire Department before being brought to Falmouth Hospital and then airlifted to Boston for further medical treatment.

The girl was in surgery for around four to six hours Sunday night at Boston Children’s Hospital according to WFXT. The girl underwent several blood transfusions and doctors expect her to be in the hospital for weeks with treatment including plastic surgery.

The father was commended by local politicians.

“We recognize the heroic efforts by the dad to do the best he could to minimize the injuries to his child,” Susan Moran, chairwoman of Falmouth’s Board of Selectmen, told the Herald.

Police said the dog did not have a history of violence.

“The preliminary investigation has revealed no known history of violence or aggression. At this time, the attack appears to have been unprovoked,” said the police in a statement.

Pit bulls have long been associated with violence, but organizations like the American Pit Bull Foundation maintain it is a myth that they are more aggressive than other breeds.

A Massachusetts law forbids towns and cities from banning specific dog breeds, but dog attacks often make local politicians uneasy.

“I have observed that pit bulls, in general, appear to be involved in attacks on human beings more than other breeds,” Falmouth Town Manager Julian Suso told the Herald.

A pit bull attack last year in Lowell, Massachusetts that killed a 7-year-old boy had a politician there calling for a ban on the dogs.

“What I would say is we just lost a little boy. I think we have to take a measure to do what it takes to prevent that from happening again,” Lowell City Councilor Rodney Elliott said at the time.