While pit bulls have been classified as a 'dangerous breed', there is no denying their instinct to protect their owners from danger.

Proving how pitbills can save people's lives when trained correctly, one owner has told how she credits her 11-year-old dog, Silvio, for saving her from a knife attack.

Sharing her close encounter on Reddit, the woman said how she was taking her dog for a walk on their usual route at dusk.

She was making her way back home when somebody stopped to ask her about her pooch - before pulling out a knife.

"I like to take Silvio on walks around our neighbourhood with me," she wrote. "We were out on one of our walks and it started getting darker, I didn't really think much about it and started heading towards home.

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"Up ahead I can see a man on the other side of the street walking in the other direction getting closer to us. He gets closer and notices us, but passes us.

"He circled back around and walked up to us and started telling me what a pretty dog I have and petting him. I didn't think any danger was happening. People have often stopped to pet him or comment. "

"Then he stepped back and just stood there weirdly. I started to get uncomfortable and turned to walk away."

As soon as the woman tried to remove herself from the situation, she said the man pulled out a pocket knife as if he was able to attack her.

She added: "I didn't have time to think about what was happening before Silvio immediately sensed the danger and got in front of me as close as he could get.

"He planted himself in what I recognised as the stance he takes when he sees another dog. He was ready to attack.

"He growled for the first time I've ever heard in his life. He barked, which is another thing he rarely does, and started to lunge at this dude."

'My pitbull saved my life - he jumped out to protect me from a knife attack'

After seeing the dog's reaction, the man quickly "stepped back" and ran away in the opposite direction from what she was walking.

Still guarding his owner, Silvio stayed firmly in front of the woman until her husband arrived - constantly looking up at her to see whether she was OK.

"When we got back home, I was obviously still a bit shaken up, and Silvio just rested his big old head in my lap giving me the sweetest look ever and calming me down," she added.

"He got so many treats and hugs and big kisses. I just can't even thank him enough.

"I knew he is protective of me but way closer and more protective of my husband, but I never really thought much about what he would do if we were legit in danger.

"He usually loves everyone and demands to be petted by any person he meets, which is probably why he let that man pet him since I didn't sense any danger at first. I assume the guy was doing this to test out if Silvio was dangerous or not."

The woman's husband took Silvio home from a friend's house when he was just one year old. The dog was "super skinny and covered in ticks" when he rescued him.

She said: " The friend lived close to the lake, and Silvio showed up with a frayed rope around his neck and a huge scar on his neck.

"He thought it looked like someone slit his throat and dumped him at the lake, or tied something heavy to the rope and dumped him and Silvio was able to get free.

"They've been best friends ever since. I will love and protect that dog like he's my child."

Despite being illegal in the UK without exemption, experts say pitbulls can make great pets when raised with care and compassion.

Animal welfare charities including Dogs Trust, the RSPCA and The Kennel Club have issued calls for the law on banned breeds to be changed, saying the government should instead impose "new measures that would put more responsibility on owners of dogs who show aggressive behaviours".

Do you have a dog story to sell? Email paige.freshwater@reachplc.com.

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