KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A teenager is being called a hero after he saved his cousin from a vicious dog attack on Sunday.
The attacked happened on Beaver Ridge Road in the Karns community.
13-year-old Mat Maxwell says he knew something was wrong when he saw their Great Dane, Max, dragging his six-year-old cousin across their backyard. He says immediately he knew he had to help.
"I jumped on top of him, grabbed him at his neck and started choking him out," said Maxwell, "Put my legs on top of his and spread his back legs out."
Mat's dad is a wrestling coach and the moves he has learned helped him save his cousin's life.
His cousin received several bites all over his body and Mat had several deep bruises from the attack. Mat says he does not mind being called a hero.
"It felt pretty good," he said.
Max was put down after the attack. The family says they have no idea why he snapped.
"We were floored," said Mat's mother Lisa Maxwell. "It was heartbreaking. We didn't expect it. It really tore us all up."
The Maxwells had two great Danes. Their other one is Max's sister, Star. They have had this type of dog for more than a decade.
"They are lap dogs - very docile, very loving, great with children," said Lisa Maxwell. "This was very unexpected. This is not their normal personality."
The Maxwells want people to realize that Great Danes still make wonderful pets and that this was just a freak incident.
Mat's cousin was sent to children's hospital after the attack, but is now recovering at home. Mat's parents say their son did everything right in helping his cousin.
"We are extremely proud," said Lisa Maxwell. "It took a lot of guts. I was really shocked. Most kids would have run away and gotten help, and he didn't. He acted, and everything he did was absolutely perfect."
The Maxwells say they are keeping a close eye on their other Great Dane, but so far they have not seen any problems with her. They are still trying to figure out what caused their other dog to attack.