‘A split-second can change somebody’s life’ - Attack victim calls for dogs to be kept under control

Helen Carpenter in hospital after breaking her back in a dog attack. Photo: Bill Smith Helen Carpenter in hospital after breaking her back in a dog attack. Photo: Bill Smith

Mark Shields mark.shields@archant.co.uk
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
9:28 AM

A disabled woman who was left with a broken back after a dog attack has urged owners to keep their pets on leads – warning “in a split-second it can change somebody’s life”.

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Helen Carpenter in hospital after breaking her back in a dog attack. Photo: Bill SmithHelen Carpenter in hospital after breaking her back in a dog attack. Photo: Bill Smith

Helen Carpenter has been in hospital with a fractured vertebra since the attack on Thursday, but still doesn’t know when she will be discharged, or if she will make a full recovery.

Speaking from her bed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the 40-year-old called for owners to take responsibility for their animals to ensure others do not go through what she has.

“People should not go into shops and leave their dogs outside wandering about. They are animals and they are unpredictable,” she said.

“Do not leave your dogs unattended because in a split-second it can change somebody’s life.”

Mrs Carpenter suffered her injuries between 4pm and 5pm on Thursday, as she was going to the shop on the corner of Heigham Street and Horsford Street, where she lives.

The bull mastiff snarled at Mrs Carpenter before jumping on her and pushing her into the road, where she was knocked out briefly. When she came to, she saw the owner of the dog attaching its lead and walking away.

She has been suffering regular nightmares since the attack.

Describing the owner’s actions as “horrendous”, Mrs Carpenter said she was glad that it had not been her daughter or another child that had been attacked.

“I have a 12-year-old daughter I’m so concerned about. I get tearful thinking about it and she needs me and I can do nothing. I’m incapacitated - because I went to the corner shop,” she said.

Mrs Carpenter was partially paralysed in her right leg by a car crash 15 years ago, and is registered disabled.

She said: “It was absolutely terrifying because there was nothing I could do about it. I’m 4ft 10ins and I imagine the dog weighed between 12 and 15 stone, so I could do nothing. I was completely helpless.”

Mrs Carpenter is the latest in a number of victims of dog attacks in Norwich in recent months.

On June 2, 48-year-old Mark Marshall suffered injuries to both hands after a Staffordshire bull terrier attacked him in Taverham.

Two weeks later, Mhairi Claxton’s guide dog Bramble was injured in an unprovoked attack in King Street.

Police are continuing to investigate the Heigham Street incident, and are appealing for witnesses.

The owner of the dog is described as tall, well-dressed and in his late 30s.

Anyone with information about the attack on Mrs Carpenter should call Norfolk police on 101.

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