Mother’s anger after young girl attacked by Doberman at city beach

A mother of a 10-year-old child who was attacked by a Doberman on Ballyloughane beach this week says such dogs should be muzzled at all times.

Vickey Smith from Oranmore says her daughter Leah, who was awaiting surgery at University Hospital Galway at the time of going to press for injuries sustained in the incident, says it has left her eldest child “terrified”.

Leah was with her grandmother and younger brother Cian (8 ) at Renmore beach on Tuesday evening around 8pm when the event took place. They were returning to their car.

She was walking by a parked car when the dog, which was seated in the back of the vehicle, “came out with his paws” through the open window and attacked her child on her left hand, says her mother.

“Basically the woman’s dog went for her hand. Leah was in shock and screamed. The palm of her hand was bleeding. The woman didn’t apologise, she drove away.”

Vicky took her daughter to hospital and remained in A&E until 4am on Wednesday morning. “They took her for x-rays and then got the plastics team to look at her. They asked me to bring her back in on Wednesday morning. She has no broken bones but has no feeling in her index finger and in the next one. They are not sure if the tendons are damaged. They mightn’t be.”

At the time of going to press on Wednesday afternoon Leah was undergoing surgery to establish the extent of her injuries.

“We will know more after the surgery. I don’t mind dogs but something like this has never happened us before,” says Vicky. “Now I’m more wary. A Doberman should have a muzzle on at all times. This dog was in the back of a car with the window fully down. Leah was very upset after this, she was crying for ages.”

Leah Smith says she wanted to be a vet when she grows up but has changed her mind as she is afraid of dogs now.

“I keep thinking of the dog snapping,” she told this newspaper. “I was swinging my bucket around and then the dog put his head out the window and snapped at me. I got a shock and then I screamed. It’s very sore.”

Her mother says the incident could have been a lot worse and insists lessons must be learned from it. “A dog shouldn’t be in a car in that heat. Owners must exercise more control over their dogs, they should have muzzles.”

Cllr Terry O’Flaherty says under the dog control act Doberman dogs are one of 11 breeds which must be on a lead and muzzled in public places..

“The dog involved in this incident was in a public area even though he was in a car. The window was opened, he had access to get out so he should have been muzzled.

“The laws are there but they are not being enforced. I would call on the guards to patrol the beaches especially in this warm weather. I see it all the time in housing estates and beaches. There are pitbulls with no leads or muzzles. I am very concerned. It is posing a danger.”

Following a bye-law adopted in 2008 by the Galway City Council dogs are forbidden from Galway city beaches or their waters between 9am and 8pm during the months of May, June, July, August, and September. Before 9am and after 8pm from May to September they are permitted provided they are on a leash and are not causing a danger or nuisance.

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