Leyland woman seeks changes to the law after Staffie rips dog's belly open in latest attack

A South Ribble woman is calling for tougher controls on dog walkers after her own dog was savaged by a Staffie in Leyland.

Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 9:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 3:12 pm
Gemma Potts, from Leyland, was attacked by a Staffy near her home on Sunday, January 26. She suffered biting to her hands and wrists.

Gemma Pots, from Leyland, is speaking out after her four-year-old cairn terrier cross was mauled by a loose Staffordshire bull terrier outside her home in Merlin Grove on Sunday, January 27.

The 28-year-old, who runs her own jewellery making business, said it took five neighbours to prise the Staffie's jaws open and free her beloved dog Rox.

She is now campaigning to make it illegal for all dogs to be off their leads in some public spaces.

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Gemma Potts, from Leyland, was attacked by a Staffy near her home on Sunday, January 26. She suffered biting to her hands and wrists.

Gemma said Rox's stomach was "ripped open" and emergency surgery, at a cost of £1,500, was needed to save his life.

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She said: "As we left home to take Rox on his bedtime walk, a woman was knocking on a neighbour's door.

"When the door opened, this massive dog came running out towards us.

Gemma said Rox's injuries were so severe that a part of his intestine could be seen hanging from the wound in his stomach.

"He saw Rox straight away and went for him.

"I saw the dog's jaws open wide. So I threw my hand at its face as a distraction, because Rox was my priority.

"I just wanted to save him from harm, I didn't care what happened to me."

Rox in happier times before he was attacked by a Staffy in Leyland.

Gemma's brave act of self-sacrifice worked and the crazed Staffie "locked" onto her hand instead.

"I passed Rox to my sister and told her to run home with him, but the Staffie let go of me and sprung after Rox and got him", said Gemma.

"He locked down on him and wouldn't let go. The sound that Rox made will never leave me. To hear him squealing in pain was just heartbreaking.

"Rox was screaming and crying and there was blood everywhere. My sister was trying to hold on to him and got her hands butchered in the process."

Vets had to insert plastic tubes into Rox's stomach to drain out any infection from the bites.

Gemma said Rox was finally freed from the Staffie's grip after a neighbour punched the dog in the testicles.

According to Gemma, Rox is lucky to be alive.

"If not for my neighbours, Rox would be dead", said Gemma.

"When he was attacked, his intestine was actually hanging out of his body. He almost bled out.

"It was horrible. The skin where he was bitten is very thin and was hard to stitch up.

Rox underwent life-saving surgery to treat a six-inch tear in his stomach at a cost of 1,500.

"The vet had to insert tubes into his tummy to drain out any discharge and infection that was building up behind it.

"So we had blood and water and infection dripping out of him for days afterwards.

"But the vet is happy with his progress and the hole where his intestine was hanging out is healing well."

But Gemma said Rox is still suffering from psychological trauma and believes he has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

She said: "Rox is physically doing better, but mentally he is scarred.

"He won't go near any other dogs or people now. When he sees dogs that look like Staffies he cries and pulls away.

"It's a shame because Rox has only just turned 4-years-old, but he's too scared to play with other dogs.

"I just want my playful little pup back."

Gemma said Rox's fear and anxiety around other dogs has now become uncontrollable.

"It took almost a week to get him to walk past the spot where the attack happened. He won't go near any other dog without lying down or barking.

"It's a shame because Rox was such a great little boy, but the attack has changed him.

"He loved people but he won't go near anyone that doesn't know him now.

"He struggles to stay asleep and he is always waking up after having nightmares."

Gemma was left with a hefty vets bill for £1,500, but the Staffie owner has agreed to pay the costs.

In August 2018, two Staffordshire bull terriers became loose in Cocker Lane, Leyland and attacked a pensioner and her dog.

Margaret Nowell, 69, suffered injuries to her hands and her Border and Patterdale Terrier cross had to have his leg amputated in a £3,500 operation.

In December 2018, a pensioner and her puppy were attacked by two loose Staffordshire Bull Terriers in Ashton.

Jill Jones, 68, was rescued by neighbours after the two dogs knocked her on the floor and bit her hands. She was taken to Royal Preston Hospital where she underwent surgery to treat her wounds.

Gemma said the incidents have spurred her to begin campaigning for stricter controls on dogs in public spaces.

She said: "I am going into campaigning to raise awareness on what can happen with dogs, even "friendly" ones, if they are not properly controlled.

"It's all about control. Dogs need to be kept on leads at all times when out on walks, unless it is out in the countryside.

"When Rox was attacked, the man did try to get his Staffie off him, but he just couldn't do it. It was too strong.

"Staffies are powerful, and if like this one, they've been trained to fight, you have no chance to stop them.

"There had been five of us trying to get the dog off Rox and it was only when one of my neighbours got down on his knees and punched the dog in the testicles that he let go.

"It's a dangerous dog that couldn't be controlled. Rox has had run-ins with other dogs in the past, but both myself and the other owners have been able to separate them without any aggravation.

"But this dog ran over to kill. It's very dangerous."

After the attack, the dog was seized by police before being returned to its owner the next day.

She said: "The Staffie is still there. It's so scary. When I am out I just can't stop my own anxiety getting the better of me, let alone trying to calm Rox.

"Any Staffie I see I just freeze. I feel sick to my stomach knowing I could come across it anytime.

"Rox saw the dog for the first time the other day whilst he was looking out of the window and he went absolutely mad barking and crying.

"The neighbours around us are all scared too, just in case the dog accidentally gets out again and gets to their dogs.

"I know some of them use to let their dogs run free on their front gardens, but won't do now and I don't blame them!"

Gemma, a self-professed dog lover, wants to see the government force dog owners to take more responsibility for their pets.

She believes all dogs should be kept on leads in public places, including streets, parks, nature trails and canal towpaths.

She said: "Dogs are dogs at the end of the day and it only takes that one second to snap like this one did and then a life is ruined.

"I wouldn't risk it just to let my dog off a lead. I still don't have feeling in my thumb and part of my hand and I run my own jewellery-making business.

"I don't get sick pay and if I don't get the feeling back I may have to give up my business.

The only thing I got lucky with was having a decent owner of the other dog who took full responsibility.

"If we can just get it into people's heads to act responsibly and keep their dogs on leads at all times, I'll be worth it."

Police have been approached for comment.

Gemma Pots suffered bites on both hands. She said she has lost some feeling in one of her thumbs.
Gemma suspects that Rox is suffering from PTSD after the attack. She said he suffers nightmares and will not go outside for walks.
Rox, a Cairn Terrier cross, had just celebrated his 4th birthday when he was attacked by a loose Staffy in Leyland. Rox underwent emergency surgery to save his life after his stomach was "ripped open".