Kerry Hawthorne inspects her bandages and the donor area where her skin had to be removed to make the graft.
Kerry Hawthorne inspects her bandages and the donor area where her skin had to be removed to make the graft.

Kerry?s early-morning runs on hold after dog attack

By MEL MARTIN

FOR nearly three decades, 60year-old Kerry Hawthorne has run the same 7.5-kilometre route, but while on her regular morning run a couple of weeks ago, she was literally stopped in her tracks, ending up in hospital for a skin graft.

"I was taking my morning run down Bailey Avenue, and I came across a young girl with three dogs, two little ones and one border collie," she said.

"The dogs all came across the road to me, so I stopped running, and told the girl those dogs should be on the lead."

But as soon as those words were out of her mouth, Kerry says the border collie, who was sniffing around her ankles with the other two dogs, took a chunk out of her calf muscle.

Seeing the damage, Kerry knew she was in trouble and asked the girl to take her to her nearby house.

"Her grandmother drove me to the emergency department, and the doctor said I'd need a skin graft," she said.

For six days after the operation, Kerry's leg had to be completely still, and for the next six weeks, she will be unable to do any exercise.

"When you're as active as I am, it's really hard. And at my age, I'm concerned about trying to get back into the good fitness I had after so long without exercise," she said.

She has also had to take sick leave from her job, and is missing out on income from her touch refereeing job.

The dog is now under a proposed 'dangerous dog' declaration from Coffs Harbour City Council, which, if successful, would put special restrictions on the dog, including wearing a muzzle and being enclosed behind special fencing.

But the declaration must first go through an appeals period.

And although she knows the owners are not planning to euthanase the dog, Kerry believes that would be the responsible thing to do.

"If it was my dog, I would have had it put down straight away," she said.

"The owners said it was out of character, but I would not hesitate, no matter how out of character.

"My concern is that I wasn't doing anything, I wasn't mov- ing or gesticulating, that dog just went for me. What if I had been a child, or had had my one-year-old grandson with me? It's not an attack that a Band-aid can fix."

The incident has left Kerry with more than just physical scars.

"I'm worried how I'm going to handle dogs. They've never worried me before, but now any dog comes near me and I just want to get away."



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