Face ripped open

Face ripped open

A pregnant Pakenham woman who no longer has feeling in the right side of her mouth after a Staffordshire bull terrier allegedly bit her face still has more questions than answers, almost four months later.

The family still awaits the outcome of Cardinia Shire Council’s investigation that would determine whether or not to seize the dog responsible for her injuries, which required reconstructive surgery to both lips and more than 40 stitches.

Tori Bayley, 17, and her sister Kiah were re-interviewed last week, with questions relating to where the parties were standing at the time of the incident, what they were wearing, the colour of the dog collar and leash, and what the weather had been like that day.

They also received an email on Monday asking for the family to re-send photos of Tori’s wound prior to surgery.

Kiah told the Gazette that she and her sister had been patting the dog, which they had known since it was a puppy, on the footpath outside their house at about 3pm on Wednesday 3 August.

She said she witnessed her younger sister take a step back to show the dog owners her baby bump, when the dog allegedly jumped up and bit Tori’s face.

“There was a lot of blood,” Kiah said.

“The bite tore open her upper and lower lip. She had flesh from her lips ripped out by the Staffy.”

Since the victim was 16 weeks pregnant at the time of the incident, she was unable to take strong pain relief.

Tori is now “too scared” to walk past the house in their street where the fully-grown white and brown Staffy lives.

Kiah said the council did not make contact with the family until about two weeks after the incident.

The victim’s mother Marianne Fletcher said the council officer who re-interviewed her daughters last week had sat in her home and “just smiled” at her.

“The way we’ve been treated by the council is almost abusive. It’s like they’re hurting Tori again and again,” she said.

“If it weren’t for that dog, Tori wouldn’t be scarred. All I want to see is that dog seized. It should pay for what it did to Tori.

“I was working that day and got the awful phone call. I was beside myself. All of a sudden your child’s in pain and you’re worried about her losing the baby.

“And what do I get? I get the pleasure of listening to that dog bark. It’s an ongoing reminder that nothing’s been done.”

Kiah said they had been interviewed by a council officer in August and that many of the questions asked last week felt repetitive.

“The council already had that information. I feel like some of those questions, like what we’re wearing or what the weather was like, are not even relevant,” Kiah said.

“The fact is she was bitten.

“We’ve gotten an email from a council officer with a smiley face at the end of a sentence. It’s like they’re not taking this seriously.”

Kiah said that when she had begun asking questions of her own, the council officer started packing up their belongings in preparation to leave.

“Tori still struggles,” Kiah said.

“The right side of her lips are numb and she’s lost feeling in her mouth.

“She has really bad days sometimes. The scar is decent. It’s really affected her confidence as well.

“Meanwhile the dog is still being walked in our street and is left tied up outside shops.”

The Gazette was supplied with Facebook message exchanges between the parties, where the dog owner claimed to have a friend who works at the council.

The messages also suggested that this council staffer visited the Staffy owners’ house and performed a “test” to determine whether the dog would attack a stranger.

The council failed to respond to the Gazette’s request for comment in confirming or denying these claims and whether this has impacted the investigation in any way.

In another dog attack, Cardinia Shire Council officers were quick to seize a mastiff that attacked a 29-year-old Pakenham man in late October.

Cardinia Shire Council development and compliance services manager Debbie Tyson said council was alerted to the incident on the day of the attack and launched an investigation the following day.

“Council prosecutors will review the statements of the witnesses and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute,” she said.

“Council officers may seize and impound dogs where a dog attack has resulted in injury to a person or animal, with consideration given to the specific circumstances of each reported incident. In this case, it was not considered necessary to seize the dog.”

Ms Tyson said the council had up to 12 months from the date of an alleged incident to undertake a thorough investigation and commence a prosecution where deemed appropriate.

The Gazette contacted the owners of the dog, but they did not wish to provide comment.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.


About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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