Dog attack girl has 175 stitches to head injuries

An eight-year-old girl needed 175 stitches to repair horrific injuries to her face and head after she was mauled by a dog she was told she could stroke.

Sky Barker was playing outside when she asked the owner of a Japanese akita if she could pet the animal.

But as she approached the dog, which was tied to a wall, it leapt forward and grabbed her head in its mouth.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Despite her ordeal and the prospect of being scarred for life Sky does not want the dog put down and police have no powers to have the animal destroyed.

Her father, Brian Hackett, told how Sky survived as she was able to roll beyond the reach of the tethered animal and the emergency services were called.

She was rushed to hospital for a four-hour operation and had 60 stitches to the back of her head, 85 in her face and 30 inside her cheek.

Mr Hackett was on his way home from work when he received a call from Sky's mother Amber Barker, from whom he is separated, telling him his daughter was in hospital after the incident in Rastrick, West Yorkshire.

The 33-year-old joiner said: "She is lucky to be alive. She was playing in a communal area opposite where she lives with her mum when it happened. Apparently the owners had only had the dog a couple of days, so why would you let it be around children like that when you don't know if you can trust it?

"The first thing I knew about it was when her mum called me and told me what had happened, she heard Sky screaming and came running out. I rushed to the hospital and I was just horrified for her.

"I am so annoyed by what has happened, and not just because of Sky but I want to make sure that this dog doesn't attack anyone else now because next time they might not survive."

Sky has only just managed to crack half a smile and doctors have warned that it could be 12 to 18 months before she regains feeling and movement in her face.

Mr Hackett, of Brighouse, said: "We are trying to make her use the muscles in her face by making her smile as much as possible, and she is just managing to smile on one side of her face now.

"Sky is going to have to go through a lot of pain in the future because of this attack, and I just don't want something like this to happen to someone else. Since the attack I have seen the dog out on a lead with the owners and I want to make people aware it is still in the area."

Despite her ordeal last Thursday, Sky does not want the dog which savaged her to be put to sleep, her father revealed.

Mr Hackett said: "Sky would pick up and care for absolutely any animal, from a dog down to a spider or an ant and look after it – that is just her way.

"Since the attack she has been a bit wary of other dogs but she is all right with our three dogs because she knows she can trust them. It says everything about her that even after the attack she said she didn't even want the Akita put down. She said she wants it to go away and doesn't ever want to see it again but she doesn't want it to die."

The Japanese akita breed is considered to be one of the most dangerous dogs in Britain, numerous reported attacks resulting in victims needing stitches and surgery.

Akitas are not listed as dangerous dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act but they are classed as a fighting breed. Because the dog is not listed under the Act, the police say they cannot force its owners to have it destroyed.

A spokesman said: "Because of the classification of this particular type of dog, we cannot seize the animal and have it put down. Instead, all we can do is strongly encourage to the owners that the dog is put down.""

The spokesman said that although there was nothing they could do, the owners have told police that they plan to have the dog destroyed in the coming days.