Surgery for Blackpool dog attack victim

A taxi driver needed plastic surgery after having his hands mauled by a mastiff-type dog in Blackpool.

Saturday, 28th May 2016, 6:00 am
John Gregory in hospital recovering from a dog attack which left both hands bloodied
John Gregory in hospital recovering from a dog attack which left both hands bloodied

John Gregory nearly lost his thumb trying to prise the dog’s jaws open after it launched a ‘ferocious, vicious, and sudden attack’ on his beloved cocker spaniel Bessie.

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital before being transferred to Royal Preston Hospital, where he went under the surgeon’s knife for his horrific injuries on Monday.

The 51-year-old, of Hodgson Road in North Shore, now wants the dog’s owner, who fled the scene, brought to justice, and said: “I want this guy to know what he has done.

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John's injuries have left him unable to work for several weeks

“I want him to take responsibility for what he has done.”

Mr Gregory and his wife Natalie, 50, were stood talking to a neighbour across the road from their home on Sunday evening, with Bessie enjoying the sunshine in their front garden across the road.

Out the corner of his eye, he saw three dogs being walked down the street — one off its lead — by a man in his late 20s or early 30s.

One of the dogs, described as a brown brindled mastiff, jumped at the wall, reached over and grabbed eight-year-old Bessie by her collar, and hauled her onto the pavement.

John's injuries have left him unable to work for several weeks

“She was screaming and yelping,” Mr Gregory said.

“I darted across the road, almost rugby tackling my dog to get her to safety.

“I had her in my arms, wrestling the other dog off, and I had my hands in the dog’s jaws, trying to prise it open, just instinctively.

“It released but clamped down on my left hand, almost tearing my thumb off.

“I just remember the crunch and me screaming, ‘It’s got me, it’s got me’.”

Mr Gregory frantically tried to free his hand, rolling on the pavement beside his parked Ford Mondeo.

The dog momentarily released its grip, only to clamp its teeth down on his right hand too.

During the chaos, his wife called the pair’s son Harry for help.

The 31-year-old who lives yards away in Lichfield Road, ran to help and pulled Bessie to safety.

“The guy said he was going to take his dogs home and come back, but hedidn’t,” Mr Gregory added.

“We think he’s local because we have seen him before.”

Mr Gregory was given first aid by his neighbour and daughter-in-law Sally, before an ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.

He was x-rayed at Victoria Hospital, treated, and referred to Preston, where he spent 24 hours recovering before returning home yesterday.

Despite his ordeal, Mr Gregory said he is not out for revenge, and recognises things could have ended differently.

Just 30 minutes before the attack, his grandchildren Joey, nine, and Mia, six, were playing in the garden with Bessie.

He said: “I know the ultimate consequence for the dog and, as an animal lover, I hate that, but my grandchildren were playing in the garden half and hour earlier and it could have been much worse.

“The ferociousness, and viciousness, and suddenness of the attack was not what you would expect from a dog in the street on a day-to-day basis.”

Bessie, who Mr and Mrs Gregory have had since she was a puppy, escaped injury and has shown no signs of any lasting damage.

Mr Gregory added: “All I can say is thank God she was wearing a collar, which is what saved her life.

“She is still her same, happy, loving self.”

The mastiff’s owner was described as white, in his late 20s or early 30s, around 5ft 10ins, with stubble, short brown hair.

He may have been wearing jeans or jogging bottoms, and a lightweight blue or grey jacket.

One of his other dogs was called Angel, Mr Gregory added.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said the attack was reported at 7.50pm on Sunday.

“A man in his 50s was found at the scene with injuries to his hand,” the force said in a statement.

“He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital for treatment.

“Inquiries are ongoing.”

The officer in charge of the investigation did not respond to a request for a comment.

The attack is one of several of its kind in the past 12 months.

In October, Lisa Woodcock’s eight-year-old Yorkie Russell Sally was mauled by a black Staffordshire Bull terrier being walked off its lead near North Pier.

The dog survived after undergoing emergency surgery at Vets4Pets in Cleveleys.

The same month, a Husky or Akita-type dog, called Cracker, was put down after attacking a 67-year-old woman who tried to stroke it in Lord Street, Fleetwood.

And mechanic Rob Lloyd’s chocolate labrador was lucky to survive after being mauled by a husky-type dog close to the Solaris Centre in South Shore.

Owners of dogs that attack face up to 14 years in jail if a person dies as a result, five years if a person is injured, and three years if a guide dog is either killed or injured.

Readers are urged to dial 999 if they see a dog out of control. Information can be reported to police by calling 101.