Dog Awareness #daw21

Dealing with the aftermath of a dog attack

‘I’ve still got the scars. I will have them all the time. I am moving on – but I can’t wear bikinis any more.’

Chester-le-Street postie, Vicky Fallon, is so matter of fact about her experience – that it’s hard to tell that it has been just six months since she was attacked by a German Shepherd dog while out on her round, writes Zoe Walker.

‘I have got over the anxiety a little bit,’ Vicky says. ‘It’s still there. But it’s not like it was at first. I have a German Shepherd dog myself. So I have been trained in how to deal with dogs for many years.’

Vicky was out on her round when the dog escaped from a property she was delivering to after a customer opened the door. As soon as it escaped, Vicky’s canine knowledge kicked into action.

‘This doesn’t work with small dogs – but as it was a big dog, I crossed my arms in front of my face and neck,’ she says. ‘The dog was as tall as I am on its back legs, and it was going for my face and neck.

‘I didn’t run. A dog’s instinct is to chase you – and they can run faster than you can.

‘But because I crossed my arms, I was bitten on the arms, and protected my face and neck.’

Like so many posties who have experienced a dog attack, Vicky says that the psychological effects are as long lasting as the physical ones.

She says: ‘I stay away from dogs on my round now. You don’t know if a dog is going to turn.’

A self-confessed dog lover who is ‘more of a dog person than a people person, to be honest,’ Vicky says her attitude towards dogs has changed: ‘I don’t give out dog biscuits. I am very wary.’

After the attack, Vicky went to hospital, where they cleaned her wounds, gave her a tetanus jab, x-rays and sent her home with antibiotics.

She suffered from haematomas in two of her wounds, due to the sheer pressure applied by the dog, and explains that although she did not have any stitches, the wound looked just like a ‘shark bite’.

The bravery Vicky has shown in the aftermath of the attack is obvious. She’s direct and clear and honest about what happened. And says she is still getting over the experience, six months down the line.

She urges caution to colleagues – even the most ardent of dog lovers – and advocates collecting as much knowledge and know how as possible about dog behaviour.

‘The scars are there still,’ she says. ‘But you have just got to keep going. You have got to put yourself out there.

‘My dog has helped me an awful lot. My advice to anyone who has experienced something similar would be to try to be around as many dogs - in your family for example - as you can. I immersed myself in dogs – we have a lot of dogs in my family.

‘I know my dogs and I know how they will react. But with any other dogs – you just never know.’

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8 Jul 2021