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What happened to Tom… (the dog attack!)

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Following the recent announcement of the banning of XL bullies by the UK government I wanted to share my own story of what happened to my husband when he was attacked by a dog. I’ve shared a few more thoughts about banning of dog breeds here.

This post is going to talk in depth about the nature of the dog attack, injuries and will feature content along this nature – consider this your content warning that this is for ages 18+.

There are a couple of photographs showing some of Tom’s injuries, but these are after he’s been ‘patched up’, so not as bad as they were initially.

I’ve shared a small amount of information about what happened on the night my husband was attacked, on my Instagram previously, and showed a little of the blood trail and aftermath too, but I’ve never been in-depth with it, like I will be in this post. 

I’m not looking for sympathy or pity, or anything else, which is partly why I’ve waited so long to compile this post. That and processing all of the trauma is something that takes a long time too. Just being able to sit down and put it all in words isn’t something I’d thought about until a few days ago.  

This is my lovely husband, Tom, I’ve wrote a little about him before. There is so much that I could say about Tom but I’ll keep it short, as this post is going to be mammoth – he’s an amazing kind soul, loving father and husband, valued member of our family but also an all round good person. 

Tom holding Luna in a field 4 months after his attack.

Tom has waited his whole lifetime for a dog, and so in February 2023 we picked up a Cavapoo puppy, having researched that this was a suitable breed for our family, unlikely to be aggressive and would suit our family dynamics well. Then we saved up in advance for pet insurance, immunisations, toys and enrichments, as well as booking in a training course to help us through the first few months of having a boisterous puppy in the house (alongside our 2 and 7-year-old daughters!). 

Fast forward to early April 2023 and Luna has been walking for a few weeks with us, learning tricks and commands, and is semi well trained (for a puppy!). 

On 12th April 2023, our youngest daughter’s 2nd Birthday, we had a wonderful family day packed with joy. The evening stretched on a little too late, tidying up from the joys of the day and trying to get two super hyped up sugar-filled little ones to bed. 

This meant that the usual 8pm final dog walk in a local field turned into an 11pm quick walk around the block, to allow Luna to toilet outside before bed, and to hopefully reduce the chance of any barking overnight as we live in a terraced house and love our neighbours! 

Given the late nature of the day, and that my husband is 6 foot 2 and well built, it was never even a discussion about who was doing that dog walk. Something I’m sure many other households will know well. It feels safe for a tall man to pop outside for anything right? Anyway, Tom put on Luna’s harness and lead, got the treats and dog bags and off they went. 

At 11:01pm Tom left our house, and walked around the block where we live. He was just 5 doors from home, at 11:10pm, and while walking along with Luna, who was only around 2.5kg at the time, he suddenly heard the sound of a dog running fast towards him.

Tom looked around and then he saw it, an XL bully type dog. This dog was running, full speed, towards him, and it was clear that it was not coming to say hello. 

What happened next was a sustained attack, for several minutes, by the dog. It took around half of that time for the owner, and his friend, to come through the garages, and make it across the street to where Tom was being attacked right outside someone’s home. 

By this time the dog has ripped Tom’s wrist open, ripped out his tendon for his thumb and began to internally sever Tom’s arm including the ulnar artery. Tom was attacked around 5 or 6 times by the dog, it’s a bit of a blur for him of course. He was bitten repeatedly on the hand, wrist and the dog even attacked the underneath of his opposite arm leaving a jaw shaped scar that still remains 5 months later as a final attempt to attack him as the owner pulled the dog away. 

Tom's arm after the final dog attack

The owner of the dog, and his friend, kept repeating “I told you”, “I told you”, over and over. Seemingly well aware that their dog was out of control and aggressive. They were beating the dog with a chain lead, hitting it repeatedly, pulling it and they were unable to get control of the dog. Two full sized grown men couldn’t control this dog, which tells you how strong it was. 

This is the moment when an eyewitness, in their own home, opened the window and started to intervene. They were shouting to the owners of the dog to get the lead on it, to get it under control etc, and I wonder how much this intervention potentially helped Tom. Thank goodness for this amazing person being confident enough to shout out and try to be helpful to my husband in this crisis. I’m cautious not to share much of this part here as I don’t want to potentially identify the eyewitness. 

By the time the careless owners finally they get their animal under some sort of control Tom has had his wrist 60% internally severed, his ulnar artery is torn open, his tendon for this thumb has been completely ripped free off his body and he is starting to bleed out. Literally moments from death. 

If Tom had fallen to the floor during the attack that dog would have continued and I’m sure Tom would probably have been killed right there in the street. 

Once the attack is over, the owner of the dog turns to Tom, looks at him. They said “you’re going to be ok, you’re going to be ok” and then they ran off and left him. They head up the road, to where they live (right near my own home) and they leave Tom staggering down the street, bleeding uncontrollably. 

It’s now 11:14pm and Tom has made it the few doors home. As he pulls himself up to our front door, repeatedly saying the word “please”, he is willing himself to make it home where he knows help will be found, but he is unable to ring the doorbell or use his keys. 

Thankfully I’m still awake, out of character for this time of night, and I hear an unusual noise at the front door. It’s the sound of Tom’s shoe tapping on the door as he tries to get my attention without frightening our children. As someone who’s always alert to different sounds I came downstairs to the front door and there I saw Tom. 

Tom had a very visible injury as I open the door, and in his shock, he remarks that he needs a bandage! I initially thought he had been stabbed because of the location of the blood on his clothes (it’s splattered up to chest height) and is all down his leg too. At the hospital later I’d notice that his pocket was even full of now congealed blood such was the volume lost. 

I’d left the stair gate open upstairs in my haste to find out what the noise was at the front door, as my daughters were sound asleep, but as I opened the door and screamed “Oh my god” I heard the sound of my 7-year-old daughter getting out of bed. I felt sick at the thought but I knew Tom needed my help the most.

As we have a 2-year-old I had to shout up to my now awake eldest daughter to shut the stair gate. Unfortunately she misunderstood and came to the gate at the bottom of the stairs, not the top, and she saw her Dad bleeding profusely. I was so proud of her maturity as I explained that I needed to help Tom and she would have to sit upstairs with her sister, to stop her toppling down the stairs unaided through the open stair gate, and trust that I would make sure everything was ok and be there to see her just as soon as I could. 

I knew I needed to move Tom from the hallway of our home and so I took him to sit on the sofa in our lounge, just off the hallway. As he sat down I began to collect up tea towels from the kitchen and I started to wrap them tightly around the wrist. I could feel the blood spraying out of his wrist and while I couldn’t see the damage, due to all the blood and trying to stem it as quickly as possible, I could tell that his wrist was severely injured while holding it. 

I rang 999, explaining that my husband had been attacked. He was in shock and so he wasn’t able to speak so well, but he managed to tell me that it was a dog attack, and then eventually he said that they had got the dog back on the lead and left. This meant that the ambulance service were safe to attend to help the situation without police presence. 

As I called 999 I collected a belt from Tom’s trousers upstairs, and made a tourniquet around Tom’s arm. I could see he was changing colour very fast, partly shock, and partly the blood loss, which the paramedics estimated to be around 2-3L in my home by the time they arrived. Without the blood loss in the street too, which people in our neighbourhood were commenting on for days – one woman even felt the need to tell me to get it cleaned off the pavement because her dog didn’t like it. Very helpful! 

While on the phone to 999 I was doing my best to stem the blood flow, and realising that this was an incredibly life threatening situation we were in. 999 were coaching me through dealing with extreme blood loss and helped me to stay calm and composed for Tom.

I was trying so hard to press on Tom’s wrist, with all my strength, and felt helpless that I have my own disability and wasn’t as strong in my hands as I’d like to have been in that moment. I kept reassuring Tom that he would be ok and I would have to keep the pressure on his wrist which was very uncomfortable for him due to the open wound. 

Both of our daughters were upstairs screaming throughout the 10 minutes I was stemming the blood flow. Aurora, 2, was crying out because she wasn’t used to waking up to her sister upset. Daisy, 7, was begging for someone to come and help me, begging for her Dad not to “lose all of his blood” and it is fair to say that those 10 minutes were the absolute worst of my life. 

Trying to call up words of comfort to your children while you witness what you think will be their Dad, your long-term partner and love of your life, dying right in front of you, was so traumatic and I can only imagine just how scary it was for Tom, who began to share words that felt like they were him acknowledging that he knew he was going to die. 

When I went to get the belt I tried to convey to the 999 operator that I know people panic about blood loss but I was very calm and I needed her to understand that I was sure my husband was bleeding from his artery and he really did need urgent assistance. The operator reassured me that they were on the way as fast as possible. 

By the time the ambulance arrived, at 11:28pm, Tom is very, very unwell. Because Tom was bleeding so much the paramedics did what they referred to as a ‘scoop and run’. This is a technique used to ensure that during the first vital minutes after a large trauma that the patient is transported to hospital as fast as possible. 

Of course they are the professionals, and managed to help stem the blood even better than I had. They were kind, considerate and compassionate throughout. True heroes. Tom was in the hospital within minutes of them arriving at our home and there instantly were a team of people waiting to help him to stay alive. What a godsend our crippled NHS can still be. 

Tom was quickly transported to hospital where he had an x-ray to check for broken bones and then he had the artery pressure dressed and a plastic surgery consultation was arranged for the following morning. Tom was heavily medicated for the first few hours and was treated with a tetanus and a few other things. 

I read a comment on a Facebook page, or perhaps a news website, which said that they had seen Tom in the hospital and he looked like he had been attacked by a chainsaw. That really accurately sums up how he looked to be honest and reading that a few days later just reminded me of how close we came to a totally different life for our family now. 

The end result of this dog attack is that Tom has been left with limited mobility in his wrist and thumb for life. Tom had a 3 hour long surgery, and spent 4 days in a hospital away from home, because of the risk of sepsis and other nasties from the dogs saliva and the depth of the dog bites.

The surgeon was able to graft a new tendon for Tom, a spare from the index finger, but unfortunately this has since ruptured and broke apart and now he’s going to face the possibility of another surgery. Tom has less mobility in his wrist, his thumb can only move in certain ways and he still suffers pain 5 months later.

Tom's wrist after his tendon replacement and surgery to replace his thumb tendon

If you’re not reading this post as a regular watcher of my Instagram then you’ll want to know this, but what happened to the dog owners… Absolutely nothing. Those disgusting animals left my husband, to almost bleed to death, and never came forward to the police. 

As for the police themselves… They were called to the hospital, by the ambulance service or hospital, I’m unsure which, due to the severity of Tom’s injuries. 

They spent several hours taking statements, right in the midst of Tom feeling atrocious, to be as accurate as possible. Then they issued a press release to local newspapers. 

This had incorrect information about the time of the attack, and as most local newspapers just churn this press release out without adding anything or fact checking, some even using bots / AI software to do so, this meant that for the first 1-2 days the information given to the public was incorrect. The chance for people to see it, and check their own CCTV footage etc, was mostly lost due to this error. 

The whole police enquiry felt very lacklustre. Rest days delayed the obtaining of local information apparently. We don’t know for sure as we weren’t kept well informed of anything. 

The police told Tom they wanted to pursue a case, we never rang 999 for the police or contacted them – I just rang for an ambulance! 


After this initial effort everything seemed to just grind to a halt. A voicemail was received from the police, then further contact explaining that they were closing the case due to lack of evidence. As if there were 10s of people walking a dog at 11pm on that single street who would be responsible for this. Another example of the absolutely damaged police system, underfunded, under appreciated, constantly bogged down with paperwork from ridiculous policies and not actually paid to patrol the streets or serve most of the public anymore. 

I will add that the police officer himself did seem very genuinely interested in helping, so this is not to bad mouth him personally should he somehow see this. We all know how chronically underfunded everything is! And what a shame that is…! 

My husband would have bled to death in the street, in just 10 minutes, and those two men just went home. They returned to their normal life. They kept walking their dogs around where I live, still not even on a lead. They never even apologised at the time. They just returned home, where they must have spoke about what happened, as young children walked past my home, and made comments about “That’s the man who was attacked by XXXXX”. 

I’m sure you can understand how sickening it was to hear those comments, picked up the security cameras that multiple neighbours have in my street, and hear how casually they were talking about this dog attack changing the course of life forever for us. 

Tom has a hand and wrist that works to around 65% of it’s previous ability. His wrist is restricted in movement still and he is in constant pain. He had 5 months off work, and only now is he starting to be able to return to work, initially on a part-time basis.

Banning one particular breed of dogs will never stop people like this roaming the streets. Walking their dog late at night, off lead is clearly not the answer for a violent or aggressive dog. A lead, muzzle and adequate training is the answer. Owners who actually want to have a dog who follows commands, and is a functioning part of society is the answer. Owners who understand fear, aggression and other traits of dogs, as well as the unpredictably of some dogs, are the answer.   

The banning of XL bullies will not prevent these irresponsible dog owners from walking the streets. It won’t stop people thinking they look cool or intimidating by owning dogs that have been bred to have a particular look about them. Anyone already breaking the law, and taking their aggressive dog with them, isn’t going to be bothered about potential legal ramifications. 

How are the police going to enforce banning of another dog breed, when they don’t even have the resources to successfully prosecute people whose dogs attack now. People think that they seize dogs and they’re instantly killed, that’s not how it works. Even dogs that don’t show signs of being aggressive are going to do so when they’re detained for months at a time with minimal enrichment or socialising on the basis of a report from a member of the public or other person whose ill equipped to decide what breed a dog even is. 

That’s not the answer. I’m not saying I have the answers either, or that I’m an expert on dog behaviour, so I’m sure you’ll find better resources to learn more about that than from me. 

Anyway that’s enough from me.

Thanks as always to everyone whose been supportive of our family while we’ve been through this trauma and we hope that we’ll be able to start putting our life back together now. 

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Codie

Tuesday 5th of December 2023

The 2 paragraphs were you talk about your poor girls being distressed and Tom starting to say things as if he thought he was dying; made me sob. I cannot even imagine the trauma for you all x

katykicker

Tuesday 5th of December 2023

It really was so much trauma for us all, glad that the first months are behind us!

Kim Carberry

Saturday 16th of September 2023

I have seen your Instagram stories about what happened to Tom but it seems so much worse when it is all written down. Sending love and hugs. It is so scary how close you came to losing Tom and even scarier that the dog could still be wandering around. It is a sad shame that the police couldn't do more. x

Jan

Monday 18th of September 2023

Reading this it was horrendous. Love you good job you have a sensible calm. Head in this situation.

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