A MAN who was mauled by his own pet dog has spoken for the first time about the horrific attack.
Hartlepool man Garry Clark was left with serious facial injuries after his dog Bandit unexpectedly turned on him.
The 46-year-old had taken five-year-old Bandit and his other Staffordshire bull terrier Tipsy for a walk at Grayfields recreation ground, opposite his home in Jesmond Gardens, when the incident happened.
Garry, who got the dog as a six-week-old pup, said: “I thought I could die.”
He was left with a flap of skin on his cheek “hanging off”, a severe injury to his lip, two wounds in his left temple, a two-inch gash to his throat and two half-inch wounds in both arms.
He had to have plastic surgery at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where he received 96 stitches.
But Garry said Bandit was “his mate” who would never normally hurt anyone and he misses him like a member of the family after he was destroyed by a vet.
Garry had unclipped Bandit’s lead and bent down to unclip Tipsy when, for some unknown reason, Bandit launched his savage attack, around 10.20pm on July 18.
He said: “Bandit just came and got hold of my arm.
“He wasn’t even growling when he was going for me.
“When he first bit me I knocked him off with my right hand.
“He must have thought ‘we are playing here’, but he kept coming back and getting worse.
“Then he came and got hold of my cheek and lip. The pain was terrible and my partner later had to throw two shirts away because there was so much blood.”
Garry said the ferocious attack lasted for five minutes, until he remembered Bandit liked to play with rags.
So he pulled his coat over his head so Bandit got distracted and the dog ran away with his jacket across the field.
Garry fled through a hole in the fence to his next-door neighbour’s and told her to stay inside and ring the police.
He ran to his own house where his partner, Elaine Gordon, a 45-year-old care home cook, thought he had been attacked by a man.
Police officers arrived and found Bandit in Garry’s neighbours’ garden.
One officer accompanied Garry to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
He was sent to the James Cook University Hospital the next day, where he had plastic surgery and was kept overnight.
While Garry was in hospital, police officers captured the black-and-white dog.
With Garry’s permission, a vet arrived and put the pet to sleep.
Garry, who is dad to Shannon, 14, and Aarron, 27, and step-dad to Michael Gordon, 21 and Martin Gordon, 23, said: “It’s horrible but it was for the best.
“He was always there, he was my mate. I wish I could bring him back but not to hurt anybody. I’m glad it was me he hurt and not a kid.
“He was a good dog – he was just excitable and boisterous.”
Unemployed Garry, who has had four Staffordshire bull terriers, added: “I would still recommend the breed because they are a lovely dog.”