Dog Shot Dead by Police in Downtown L.A. After Biting Man, Sending Him and Other Dog to Hospital: Police

A large dog was fatally shot by police after it attacked and bit a man and one of the two dogs he was walking in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon, Los Angles police officials said.

Officers got a call about the attack around 3:30 p.m. and responded to the scene near East Fifth and Crocker streets, according to Lt. Chris Ramirez.

Witnesses told KTLA the large dog, which appeared to be a pit bull or pit bull mix, was running around loose when it suddenly targeted the victim and his two small dogs, which looked like miniature Pinschers.

Patrolling LAPD officers on horseback had initially tried assisting and called other police for backup. Ramirez described the attack as "vicious."

The victim was on the ground, and other men in the area tried to pull the large dog off him but it wouldn't let up, witnesses said.

A man who identified himself as "Uncle John" said he tried helping the man who was attacked, describing the incident as "terrifying."  The victim was holding one of his pets when the other dog approached, bit him and locked his mouth around the other animal's head, he said.

Officers shot the aggressor dog, and it died at the scene, Ramirez said.

The victim and the dog that was bitten were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and were expected to be OK, the lieutenant said.

Authorities were investigating the use of lethal force against the dog, which Ramirez described as a "rare" occurrence. He said investigators were still trying to determine if the large dog belonged to anyone and whether a possible owner could be subject to charges.

But Ramirez said forced dog fighting does not appear to be a factor in the attack.

"It doesn't look like that type of arena," he said of the scene.

No other details have been released by police.