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UPDATE: Exeter City Council to review dog lead policy following horror attack that left woman in hospital

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

  • Helen Dale and her dog Poppy

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A TERRIFIED woman is recovering from serious injuries in hospital after being bitten as she wrestled her pet from the jaws of a vicious dog.

Helen Dale has spent the last four days in hospital and undergone a major operation after she was attacked while frantically trying to rescue her Jack Russell Poppy in Belmont Park, Exeter.

The 45-year-old contract cleaner said she was “horrified” that a second serious dog attack in the park in the space of a few months has been allowed to happen.

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Last August Diane Walton watched her puppy mauled to death in Belmont Park.

And Ms Dale said the horrifying images of the previous attack were going through her mind as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, being walked off the lead and without a muzzle, locked hold of Poppy’s leg in the park on Sunday.

Speaking from her bed at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Ms Dale said: “It all happened so quickly. I got on the floor and tried to push and kick the dog off her. I just kept getting images of the dog that was killed in August and of that happening to her.

“I did not want her to be torn about the park. I knew that if I let go I would not see Poppy again.”

Ms Dale said the dog did eventually release Poppy and she picked her up and fled to a neighbour’s house. “I am just so glad I was able to get her off and get in the way of it. Poppy and I are both lucky. It could have grabbed my neck or head as I was lying down and I know I could have bled to death,” she said.

“Because of the adrenalin I had not realised I had been bitten until I looked at all the blood on the phone as I was calling my partner,” she said.

Poppy was taken to the vets where she has been patched up and Ms Dale to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. She has a fractured hand where the dog’s jaw broke her bone and her little finger was almost severed. She has already had one operation and been told she may need another one.

“Why don’t the owners use muzzles? If not at the very least keep them on the lead,” she said. I feel very sick and upset about what happened. I am still in shock. But unless I intervened Poppy would be dead and it is like any mother protecting their young.”

Ms Dale, who lives in Newtown and used to walk Poppy in the park twice a day, said: “I will not take her there again. I am petrified. I am a dog lover but these dogs are killers. Once they have jaw locked they don’t let go. I honestly cannot believe this has happened in the same park again.”

Following the first attack, a meeting was held by councillors, officers and police to look at possible action to prevent future attacks. But Ms Dale said: “We have not seen a dog warden there since. I don’t think every dog should be kept on a lead but the dangerous ones should. You have got no chance with a dog like that. Do they have to wait until a child is mauled before they do something about it? That is what will happen.”

Her partner Eddie Ashton added: “These dogs should not be allowed on the streets without a muzzle and a lead. If this is allowed to go on it is not long before a child gets hurt.”

The dog’s owners, a man and a woman in their 20s, who may have had a child with them, have not been traced. Call police on 101 quoting reference number DE14 391.101 with information about the attack, which took place on Sunday, January 12.

Following the incident, a city council spokesman said: "We treat these incidents very seriously and were alarmed to hear of this attack. Our sympathies are with the victim and we will be reviewing our policies in light of this latest incident.

"We have been carrying out regular patrols of the park but we cannot have a permanent presence there. So far we have not witnessed any recent problems in Belmont Park but would ask members of the public to contact the police if they have any information about this incident or any others in the park or other parts of the city."

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  • pete13  |  January 16 2014, 3:31PM

    I believe in Scotland they are considering the muzzling of all dogs in public areas.....I believe that is the case in Belgium.....I certainly think that is a bit unfair but would like to see dogs on leads in public places ,especially on the highway and places where children play.

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  • RAMBO1945  |  January 16 2014, 4:21AM


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