ACT authorities were warned of two dangerous dogs at a Belconnen public housing complex months before a resident was horrifically mauled.
Daniel Meyers lost a finger, part of his hand and tricep, and suffered nerve damage after he was set upon by the pit bulls in March last year.
Mr Meyers is suing the ACT government for allegedly failing to prevent the attack despite receiving warnings from residents over three months.
Documents filed in the ACT Supreme Court by Ken Cush & Associates on Mr Meyers' behalf allege that the government acted negligently and owed residents a duty of care.
The lawsuit alleges the government failed to ensure the complex was kept safe by removing the dogs, and says the risk of serious harm and injury was foreseeable.
The government is yet to file its defence.
In a response to questions, a government spokesman said that Domestic Animal Services, at the time of the attack, was investigating the dogs and had already issued a warning about them after an earlier incident involving another resident.
Mr Meyers said the dogs, whose owners he said had been subletting a public-housing unit, had concerned residents for months and had previously harassed others.
He had returned to his unit one night when one of the dogs broke its lead and attacked.
The second joined in and he fell to the ground as the dogs latched onto his arms before he regained his feet.
He only managed to escape after wrenching his limbs free from the dog's teeth – causing significant injuries – and running.
The attack could have been much worse, as one of the dogs had tried to maul his head. Instead, it bit into a set of headphones he had been wearing.
"I thought 'that's it, I'm dead'. I was ready to die," Mr Meyers said. "If I didn't have [the headphones] on I probably would've died there and then.
"[Parts of my arm and hand] was all just hanging out [after I broke free] ... There was blood everywhere ... It really freaked me out.
"I used to love dogs. Now I hate dogs like that. I see dogs now and I think of the attack."
Court papers say the authorities received a first complaint on December 15, 2015.
On January 8, 2016, a resident contacted the government and the then relevant minister, Simon Corbell, to say he had been attacked by the two dogs.
On the same day, the registrar of Domestic Animal Services, Fleur Flanery, directed that information about the governemnt's response should not be given to the media.
An animal warning harassment notice was also issued on the same day.
Further complaints were made a week later and, in February 2016, an official sought advice on powers to seize the animals.
Mr Meyers was attacked by the dogs on March 15.
A Transport Canberra and City Services spokesman said domestic animal rangers had launched a probe after the January complaints.
"No charges were laid for the January 2016 incident as it was a harassment notice, however, in March following a serious attack, an investigation commenced."
The spokesman said the dogs were seized after the attack.
"One dog was surrendered and euthanised, the other dog was declared dangerous and remains at Domestic Animal Services whilst the investigation is under way.
"This is an ongoing investigation, [the directorate] cannot provide further comment at this time. Further advice can be provided when appropriate."
The spokesman said the media ban had been imposed as it would have been inappropriate for the government to comment publicly while the facts were still being established.
City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the investigation's outcome would be reviewed to ensure current laws were effective.
"If they aren't, I will look to progress the necessary amendments," Ms Fitzharris said.
"The penalties in the Domestic Animals Act are very serious for dog attack incidents, and can include imprisonment."
Almost 250 dog attacks were reported to the government in 2015; 153 resulted in hospital treatment and 116 dogs were seized.
Mr Meyers' bid is the second high-profile lawsuit brought against the government over its response to warnings of dangerous dogs.
Jack Hartigan alleged he suffered personal injury as a result of negligence by the ACT commissioner for social housing after he was scalped, had his face torn open, and suffered numerous other bites to his arms and legs during an attack by two American pit bull terriers at a public housing home in Griffith in late 2010. He was aged six at the time.
The government, in its defence, denied it owed Jack a duty of care and argued the tenancy agreement did not ban the tenant from keeping pets.
Justice Hilary Penfold, who heard Mr Hartigan's case in July last year, has yet to hand down her findings.