A mother whose daughter was attacked by a dog in Lisburn’s Wallace Park on Sunday said the girl was ‘traumatised’ by the incident.
Our picture clearly shows the animal’s paw marks amid heavy bruising to the 11-year-old’s leg.
Her family is in no doubt that but for the trousers she was wearing at the time she would have needed hospital treatment.
Now the youngster’s mother, who did not want to be identified, is calling for all dog-owners to keep their pets leashed around children in the city’s parks, whether the authorities insist on it or not.
The Lisburn woman told how her husband and daughter had been playing ball in the park, while their own dog was tethered nearby.
“This dog that was off the lead came over and squared up to our dog,” she said. “My daughter lifted our dog out of reach but the other dog jumped up and pawed at her.
“Another woman came over and held our dog while my husband tried to calm our daughter down; she was in hysterics.
“She was totally traumatised. She loves animals, but this has just knocked her for six; now she won’t take our dog out for a walk on her own.”
Also facing a vet’s bill, for treatment of her own pet’s puncture wounds, the appalled parent said the dog’s owner didn’t seem overly concerned.
“He appeared with another dog that was on a lead, and muzzled; he called the other dog away and said ‘Sorry, it
hasn’t done that before. It’s as well it wasn’t this one; it would’ve bit you.’
“We talked to the dogwarden and she said dogs can be let off the lead as long as they are well behaved and come when they’re called once, but surely on a day like Sunday, when there are children playing in the park, you should just be safe and keep the dog on a lead.”
News of the incident comes hot on the heels of an appeal from Lisburn and Castlereagh UUP Councillor Robbie Butler for dog-owners to exercise firm control over their pets.
Personally aware, he said, of a family who had to remove their disabled child from their own garden because a “bad-tempered” dog was being walked off the lead nearby, he argued dogs should be on a lead at all times.
Responding on the Star’s Facebook page, Beverley Cragg said: “My daughter aged 4 absolutely loved dogs until last year when we were walking home a small Shih Tzu out on its own started to jump up and down on her and her younger brother.
“The dog was excited and only looking to play but they were terrified and being on my own trying to get the dog to stop and unable to lift them both it was a nightmare.
“The dog followed us home too with them both squealing. Now my daughter won’t even walk past a dog on a lead without squealing when before she would of been straight over stroking them.”
Gretta Gibson Brown said: “I was bitten as a child by a dog whose owner had just said he wouldn’t touch me. Some dog owners need to get a grip and realise other people are sick of dog mess, aggressive dogs, and worst of all, the ‘throwing a deaf one’ dog owner. . .”