A Lostock Hall man has spoken of his heartbreak after his dog was savagely attacked.
Martin Eastwood's border collie, Zebady, was mauled by an unmanned dog thought to be a Staffordshire cross on Monday, October 21 at around 1pm in Tardy Gate Park.
The 44-year-old support worker is now raising £3,000 to help cover vet bills after Zeb was twice rushed into emergency surgery due to tears in his neck that just missed his main artery. The money will also pay for a massive skin grafting procedure.
Martin said: "Zeb's really suffering. It's been a horrific ordeal for all of us. I still haven't really come down from it."
Martin and his partner Kaley Smith (40) were travelling towards the shops with Zeb and his best mate Diesel, who were on leads and walking to heal, when they saw two Staffordshire-type dogs.
"The larger one came running towards us quite menacingly and it became quickly apparent what was going to happen. You just know," Martin added.
"I tried to shield Zeb but the dog sank his teeth into him. I immediately dropped to my knees and was frantically trying to separate them. The attacking dog had no collar so it was hard to control it and it was quite a fight.
"Zeb was incredibly distressed. There was blood everywhere and I was trying to prize the Staffy's jaws apart but it was so ferocious and intent.
"Kaley and I were screaming for the owner and people were coming over to help but it wasn't anyone's dog.
"Zeb was in a terrible way and had a huge neck laceration."
The police were called at around 1-30pm and rushed Zeb to emergency surgery in the back of a police car.
Despite a successful operation, he later developed a serious infection causing all his skin around the stitches to break down and begin rotting away.
He was raced back to surgery but his skin was so damaged that it could not be restitched and operators were forced to cut out an infected area that Martin said was bigger than a dinner plate.
Zeb will also undergo a huge skin grafting operation costing around £800 when his wounds heal.
Martin said he and Kaley have had to physically sit with Zeb to hand-feed him and support his body so he can sleep.
He added: "He's in such an awful way and has only just been able to feel comfortable while sitting down. It's a small blessing but I think his recovery will take months."
Martin has taken time off work to provide daily care to his pet.
He said: "Zeb is very nervous and has some level of post-traumatic stress. He feels so uncomfortable outside. He's struggling and is scared of his own shadow."
It's a far cry from the energetic and "ridiculously intelligent dog with bags of personality" who Zeb once was.
His owners also feel rocked by the attack.
"Kayley won't go out at all with our other dog Diesel. It's so sad. She's really upset," Martin said.
"We're popping Diesel in a van and going to remote places.
"I myself am quite a big chap but I feel disturbed when I hear a distressed dog. My heart rate jumps.
"I think Kaley's mindset right now is that if she had been on her own she physically wouldn't have been able to do what I did. It's been traumatic all round. The day it happened and since has been awful.
"We're both support workers at the same place and Kaley's been doing my job on top of hers while I'm at home caring for Zeb. It's another level of pressure and it's really taken its toll."
But the community has rallied around the couple ever since they first set up a Go Fund Me page for Zeb. One lady, who works in pet rehabilitation, has offered free sessions to help Zeb feel safe in parks and around other dogs.
"There's been overwhelming support. It's just amazing. In the world we live in these days, the amount of donations and support we've had is nice to see. It's from the heart and it's wonderful. It's heart-warming," Martin said.
"Zeb is becoming quite famous now. A woman at the vets asked, 'Is this Zeb?' And gave me £20. She said she'd come to the surgery just to donate the money to him. It was one of those moments that bring a lump to your throat. It was quite something."
But the fund-raising page is also designed to raise awareness, according to Martin.
He added: "People need to see the extent of his injuries because it's not just another dog attack. It happens all the time.
"There used to be loads of dogs on the streets but there were dog collectors picking them up. Today people are breeding dogs themselves and there are lots of abandoned animals around. It just adds to the problem.
"We need better vetting of owners and people should have licences to keep a dog.
"A pet is part of the family and any animal lover should see them like that, so having a license shouldn't be an issue to them.
"Something needs to be done because it happened on a park full of kids and it's an ever increasing problem.
"I can't see any other resolution than the old-fashioned way of enforced licenses."
Officers are now working with the South Ribble Council Dog Warden and their investigation is ongoing.
They say one of the dogs involved in the attack was injured by a member of the public while the animals were being separated.
A South Ribble Police spokesperson said: "During the incident, one of the offending dogs was stabbed by a member of the public trying to restrain the animal.
"In total, three dogs were injured. They have all had surgery and are recovering.
"Two of the dogs involved remain seized by police.
"We are investigating a report of a burglary at the address where the two suspect dogs live on the day of the incident and are looking into this as a potential reason for why the dogs were in the park."
To make a donation to Martin's Go Fund Me page, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-zeb-with-vet-fees-after-viscous-dog-attack?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet