CervicalCheck campaigner Stephen Teap has told how, after being attacked by two dogs as a child, the hardest part of dealing with the trauma is the following 10 years.
He and Cork paediatrician Dr Niamh Lynch who was also mauled by a dog spoke at a meeting in Cork about responsible dog ownership following a spike in reported dog bites.
The event was organised before the pitbull attack on Alejandro Miszan, 9, in Wexford who has been left with life-changing injuries.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Lynch said being attacked by a dog in her 20s was a shocking experience and seeing children with dog bites through work has made her passionate about children's safety around dogs.
“More than 100 people will present to emergency departments each year with dog bites, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
“So we don’t really know the true number of children who are bitten every year.
“Dog bites are preventable injuries. The first thing we need to do is set dogs up properly behaviourally and the second is responsible dog ownership. There are a lot of dogs running around off leash.
“Every one of those dogs is an accident waiting to happen, potentially with tragic outcomes.”
Stephen Teap also suffered a dog attack aged nine which left him with lifelong trauma.
He said “time slowed down” as two Rottweilers “ripped the clothes off my arm and leg” leaving him needing more than 100 stitches.
He said Alejandro Miszan “doesn’t realise yet the hardest part of his life is yet to come” — spending the next decade dealing with the fear every day. He added:
The event was co-hosted by Esther Ring from Top Barkz canine education centre.
“A bad mood isn’t hereditary,” Ms Ring said, adding she is in favour of education around canine behaviours before getting a dog, much like a driver’s test is a prerequisite to driving.
She said incidents can greatly affect dogs between eight and 11 weeks old which can “imprint” fears for their lives and it’s important to understand their behaviours and respect their space when its needed.
At the talk, dog owners, and experts were adamant there are no “bad breeds” of dogs and much of a dog’s behaviour can be attributed to its environment and interactions with humans.